“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
While some people dislike a silent environment, equating it with being alone and lonely, others look forward to spending time with just their thoughts, seeking silence with eagerness, as if anticipating a gift. Indeed, silence offers profound benefits, many of which we aren’t even aware of.
Silence is good for overall physical health and well-being
Besides giving our ears a break, silence has been shown to offer significant health advantages that boost overall well-being. From a physiological standpoint, silence helps:
- Lower blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attack.
- Boost the body’s immune system.
- Benefit brain chemistry by growing new cells. A 2013 study found that two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region, a brain area linked to learning, remembering, and emotions.
- Decrease stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline. Furthermore, according to a 2006 study in Heart, two minutes of silence relieves tension in the body and brain and is more relaxing than listening to music. This was attributed to changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
- Promote good hormone regulation and the interaction of bodily hormone-relate systems.
- Prevent plaque formation in arteries.
Lending credence to these observations, science now recognizes the harmful effects of noise pollution on human health and cognition.
Silence promotes psychological and emotional benefits
Taking a break from difficulties at home, work or school is often best accomplished with a conscious choice to entertain silence. Without the distractions of tech devices, ringing phones, incoming messages, unexpected assignments or chores, or the demands of children, co-workers, family members and friends, it’s easier to calm the mind and restore balance.
Silence may help in the following areas:
- Creativity – When allowing thoughts to go where they will, inspiration may bubble up. Solutions to current or long-standing problems may suddenly occur to you, or a work-around or innovative approach may seem more feasible. Ideas for going in a different direction could coalesce, helping build momentum and excitement for spinning them off into yet other potential avenues to pursue.
- Awareness of self and environment – Once you’re comfortable in your silence, you’ll notice a distinct shift in your ability to be more self-aware. In addition, you can better appreciate the world around you, including your immediate environment.
- Reflection – Silence permits the kind of reflection that is beyond mere introspection. It promotes the ability to connect threads in a seemingly disorganized, disconnected world. After meditating in silence, you may be more motivated to mend significant relationships that have become strained, embark upon a self-improvement program, pursue a more challenging career path, vow to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
- Sensitivity to flow of life force – As a living organism, becoming aware of your essence, your flow of life force is important to maximizing your potential and impact on those closest to you. No one exists in a vacuum. We’re all members of the human species. As such, our life force separates us from all other species.
- Insomnia – In a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, older adults experiencing insomnia found relief in the form of improved sleep quality and less daytime impairment after undergoing a 6-week intervention of mindfulness meditation.
Suggestions for entertaining silence
At a loss for effortless ways to get in the practice of entertaining silence? It isn’t as difficult as you might think, and anyone can begin to cultivate silence to help benefit overall health and well-being. Try these suggestions:
- Invite a friend for a walk outside in nature. Then, make sure to walk at least part of the way in mutual silence. You can also walk solo to get more in tune with nature and allow your mind to take a quiet time-out.
- Remain in bed an extra 5 minutes before getting up for the day. Use this time to slowly awaken to the world, basking in the silence of the sleeping quarters, letting your thoughts wash over you. Say a silent prayer of gratitude for all that you have and ask for blessings for the day ahead.
- Engage in deep breathing exercises. This helps calm your mind and quiet it at the same time.
- Meditate. This practice can be whatever you want it to be, from simple to more intricate. Teach yourself or join a class, whatever works for you to get in the habit of silently witnessing your thoughts.