Are you sometimes overwhelmed by an ever-growing to-do list and the need to run all the time, while listening to the newest music, podcasts or skyping? Do you find yourself in situations when all the noises of traffic, your phone and people wanting to interact with you at the same time make it impossible for you to think clearly? Have you ever felt the need for silence?
Silence is one of these things that are not experienced very often, at least not if you live in a city or on a busy street. There are so many distractions nowadays, duties, chores, calls to make, buses to take and so on… that at the end of the day we may find ourselves not having any moment of silence at all during a day filled with meetings, commuting and entertainment. My one piece of advice is…
A little bit of silence is beneficial for your body and mind. It’s in these silent moments, when we decide to have some ‘me-time’, that we can truly relax, look at our thoughts and decide what our next steps are. When you look at some of your thoughts, you have a chance to not act automatically anymore, but to make your habits more conscious, and possibly even change some, if you like.
Silence is the basis of mindfulness meditation – a practice proven to calm your mind and body, and make you appreciate (sm)all things that happen to you every single moment. You can practice sitting or walking meditation. As Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn puts it,
You can stop the running. You can arrive in the here and the now. And you don’t need another person to tell you whether you have arrived 100% or not – you know. If you have arrived, you feel peace. You feel comfortable with the here and the now. And when you have arrived like that, you smile a smile of success. (you can watch the video of him speaking here)
Silence does not need to be connected to a meditation practice. It can be practiced in your office, during a coffee break, even in a toilet. There is always time and space for mindful silence. It can require a decision to slow down for a couple of moments, but it is always possible and accessible. Although meditation brings amazing effects, even a moment of pure silence can bring fantastic results. You don’t need to make a lot of effort to do anything; it’s quite the opposite. It’s about un-doing. Not doing. Spending some time on your own, quietly.
It’s no news that silence is good for you. It can apparently reduce stress, and even pain. It has been proven by neuroscientists in a brain scan that mindfulness meditation calms the areas in our brain associated with pain and with ego (self-centeredness), among other benefits. You can watch the video here. It also helps you make better decisions, notice more of what’s happening around you, and nourish your loved ones in a more compassionate and mindful way. And you can explore your passions that way too. It only takes a couple of thoughts and ideas to crystallise in your mind before you start a new hobby or venture out on a new enterprise or project that you have just imagined. It also strengthens your intuition. And when you are more alert to your intuition, you can take more initiative both in your life and in business. For me, I think it’s worth it.
Silence can also make you happier. If you get a moment to appreciate who and what you have around, your level of joy increases. From the place of quiet gratitude you can experience many beautiful things. Also, being able to ‘be with yourself’, being comfortable on your own, is an important step on the way to form meaningful relationships and friendships. Only if you are comfortable with yourself you can truly be with another person. And also, only if you can truly nourish yourself, you can take care of your loved ones. That’s another argument to start practicing silence.
This is especially important if you’re and introvert. Although everyone benefits from moments of undisturbed silence, introverts need it the most. Their brains require it to be able to function well in an increasingly noisy environment. You can read more about how an introverted brain craves silence here. It’s not without the cause that they say silence is golden.
If you have a business, artistic, or practical question and you want to find the best answer, sometimes it doesn’t come immediately. I have discovered that the more I actively try to find a creative solution, the less creative it becomes. Then, all of the sudden, while I’m quietly washing the dishes afterwards, the answer comes to me in a flash. That’s what your subconscious does – when you ask a question, it deals with it ‘in the background’ of your thinking and when it’s ready, it presents you with the best answer to what you were looking for. The only thing you need to be receptive to that process is… a moment of silence. If you are relaxed and quiet, preferably focusing on some manual or repetitive work, then you are most likely to benefit from this process.
Another way to practice silence and stillness is to go out in nature, sit in a park for example, and enjoy the experience. Complete silence may not be possible, but even focusing on the sounds around and not speaking (and not thinking too much) can make you centred and receptive. Besides, nature has a lot of healing properties, documented by many book authors and scientists. Walking barefoot on the grass (in silence) is very powerful, and is a subject of another article I’ve written.
It’s OK. We are busy. You don’t need any dramatic steps to take. As the Kaizen method advises, one small step is enough to change your habits for good, if you repeat that step regularly (more of this can be found in the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer). Even one minute of silence, if practiced every day, can train your brain to rest and bring you a good portion of peace of mind in the long run, plus countless bodily and mental health benefits. Because,
He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak. – Ausonius
I’d like to hear your comments about this subject. Has silence helped you in some crucial moments? Do you like to retreat to yourself sometimes? Or, on the other hand – is it uncomfortable for you to be on your own for a prolonged period of time? I’m looking forward to seeing how you feel about it!
Anna Wawrzyniak is an intuitive writer, songwriter and a keen researcher on humanistic subjects, healing techniques, ancient knowledge and anthropology, passionate about exploring the ways they relate to the modern world and contemporary society. You can know more about Anna in her blog “What Anna Writes” and contact her on Twitter.