Silence has been valued throughout the ages. Sages such as Confucious (“… a true friend who never betrays”) and Lao Tsu (“… a source of great strength”) to Muhammad Ali (“… golden when you can’t think of a good answer”) have extolled its virtues for personal growth.
And then there’s how Garry Shandling put it:
The world is too noisy and distracted to probably ultimately survive. Everyone needs to shut the f*ck up. The answers are in the silence. Monks set themselves on fire to protest and to make this point. Just consider it.
Well said. But unfortunately, it’s easier said than shushed.
The digital noise we’re grappling with nowadays doesn’t necessarily make a sound, although noise pollution is a growing health crisis.You don’t even have to be conscious of the caphony to experience brain drain. Telltale signs include feeling distracted and unable to focus, solve problems, or come up with new ideas.
The quiet place isn’t scary at all …
There’s been loads of research on the positive effects of silence. Whereas noise ratchets up stress and tension, it’s been shown that as little as two minutes of quiet can be more calming than listening to “relaxing” music.
Even more compelling is evidence from a 2013 study on mice that showed just two hours daily of silence led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus — the seat of memory, emotion, and learning. This means a little quiet time can help alleviate symptoms of even severe conditions including depression and Alzheimer’s.
Pondering in peace isn’t passive, either. It’s an active way to flip your brain’s switch to “default mode,” and access the powerful flow of feelings, thoughts, memories and ideas to help you make sense of the world, as well as empathize with others.
The sound of silence
It may seem impossible to grab a piece of quiet but as the Chopra Center points out, it’s less about finding silence, more about cultivating an awareness of what’s already there.
So while meditation is always a great way to tune out the noise and tap into inner peace, accessing quiet can be as simple as taking a walk in nature or just paying attention to the stillness of early morning before you hop out of bed.
By allowing your brain to let down its sensory guard, you rep the benefits of self-awareness and reflection. So go ahead, steal some time for yourself, and restore what noise has robbed from you.