The old song by Simon and Garfunkel was so right: silence really is golden, but maybe in more ways than we realize. In our urban, busy world we don’t get enough outer silence. There’s always the sound of traffic, TVs, other people in their apartments and the general buzz of the city as we go about our daily business. These days we have to hunt out the quiet spaces, but they are there as I discovered just the other day.
I’m selling my apartment, so we have the bi-weekly ritual of having to go out with the dog for 45 minutes during house viewing and find somewhere to be. As my dog is a bit old and grumpy (he’s 85 in human years), we try to seek out places that avoid other dogs and small children, which is hard in a café-obsessed beachside suburb of Sydney. As we took a walk up the road we discovered a small nature reserve that had been recently restored. Pristine bush tucked away in the city, green, tranquil and no sound, that’s bliss.
But most times nowadays we have to either travel out of town or wake up early to catch the stillness we all need. I enjoy getting up and meditating at 5 a.m. before the streets around me get busy. But whatever you do, try finding some “outer” silence. Increasingly, scientists are showing that noise pollution can slowly erode quality of life and actually be harmful to our health, with some studies suggesting a link between noise and heart health. Medical evidence is increasingly suggesting that there are significant benefits of being in silence, including that silence:
- boosts your immune system.
- lowers blood pressure.
- reduces stress hormones such as cortisol.
- helps hormone regulation.
- keeps your brain healthy.
But there is another silence we can access if we cultivate it. Inner silence comes when we meditate. It’s a deep, quiet, calm space that resides in each of us.
If we take the time through meditation we can engage with it, use it to help ground us and release our stress. In the inner silence we can just be in the present moment, accepting everything just as it is and connect more deeply with ourselves. It’s a time when we can experience that we are greater than our ego and put aside our overactive monkey mind. This makes this time an opportunity for rejuvenation, self-compassion, and connection. The sense of connection brings more compassion toward others.
So in your busy, noisy day try to carve out some time for silence, both outer and inner. This will help you to reconnect, refresh and renew your sense of well-being. See if you can hunt down those quiet, secret spaces in your local neighborhood and spend some time there. And for your inner silence try vispassana meditation or some qigong practice. Whatever form of silence you choose, know that it truly is golden for your well-being.
Meditation photo available from Shutterstock