Silence . Most of us do not have enough of it in our modern lives. While I am usually engaged in sharing ways to be expressive in every way, I rarely touch upon the very big reasons to balance that expression with quietude.
Silent retreats are soaring in popularity because the need to escape noise is becoming a tangible reality for the overstimulated. I have heard more than one person tell me recently, ” I just need a clear mind, ” struggling in the midst of so much noise. While it may seem like silence is a cop-out- a way for people who can’t express themselves well to hide from self-expression- silence is the opposite.
Silence is immensely productive.
Here are a few reasons to embrace more silence in your life, and a few ways to get a little silent retreat going in your life…!
Increased clarity. When you fill the air with all sorts of noise- music, non-stop banter, urban screeching sounds- you fill the air with waves. These waves are what we hear as sound. When you decrease these waves flowing in all directions and stay quiet, resisting the urge to run random radio in the background of your morning drive or diving into the heart of the city on a day off, you have more time to experience the flow of your own thoughts. You will have a sense of where your energy has been going, a very revealing experience for people who have been lost in the many directions that noise can pull your attention.
Yin makes you magnetic. We all need yin & yang for balance. Achievement-oriented people tend to value yang. Yang is the loud, active energy of life. Yin, however, is the rejuvenating, calm, cool energy that brings things toward you magnetically. Yin is receptive.
Living a deeper, more connected life. Embracing silence is a way of forging a deeper connection with yourself and with others. Bob Edelstein explains in The Power Of Silence in Psychology Today, ” Paying attention to the silence as the space between our verbal exchanges allows the meaning of these exchanges to be assimilated into our psyches and from that place of depth, our creative engagement naturally flows. Creative engagement with our internal processes allows us to discover more of who we are, to take in previously hidden aspects of ourselves, and to reconfigure ourselves, if we so choose. This is what allows us to be more deeply authentic in the present moment. By being more authentic, we become more self-actualized and can impact our world in powerful ways.”
Improving your short-term memory. Recent research has shown that for short-term recall (IE; preparing a presentation, if you are about to take a test) silence can be better than any sound.
“The latest research carried out at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) shows that music can interfere with short-term memory performance regardless of whether we like the music or not.
When students were played music while recalling a list of consonants in their presentation order, they remembered fewer items than when they performed the same task in a quiet environment. It was also found that musical preferences had no bearing on how much the volunteers were able to recall.” (via)
(*classical music defies this categorization. You can read more on the Mozart Effect here.)
Meditative inspiration, if you dare to have it. As Steven King says, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” In quiet, or at the least in the absence of booming distraction, you can get into deeper levels of meditation. When I resist quiet- like reaching for a cell phone when I am sitting down to do my Buddhist chanting practice- I know I am resisting the practice. When you can allow yourself quiet, you can get to more profound levels of seeing yourself clearly and tuning into a meditative space more intently. The willingness to shut down the noise, however, is like breaking an addiction to being numb and distracted. Silence allows you to enter spaces of magic if you are willing to let yourself enter that inspiring zone of utter freedom. This is powerful stuff.
Inspired to shut off the phone more, turn down the radio volume, or simply spend more time listening instead of talking? I certainly am!
Enjoy the silence! xoxo Dana
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