On the couch
“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” —Rumi
Some people may enjoy and may prefer silence often. For others, the thought of being in silence can be uncomfortable. Interaction with others is vital for our general wellbeing; however, we can all benefit from solitude and silence.
Whether you are an introvert or a social butterfly, you should try and create some time for yourself to have silence and pause. A constant stream auditory stimulus keeps our attention on the external environment and makes it harder for us to turn our attention towards introspection. Silence allows space to notice the blind spots in our lives what is missing and gives us the freedom to explore future possibilities.
In society, we are becoming more task-oriented and focused on results; however, we can improve our productivity if we take for silence and space. A 2013 study saw that silence has a positive effect on the brain as it helps newly generated cells to differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system.
When you can cultivate silence, clarity develops in your mind and has a soothing effect. Our body and senses are connected, so you will both start to relax overall. Practising silence contributes to more effective active listening skills. Often in conversations, we wait for a turn to talk rather than listening to what the other person is saying. I like to consider silence as a bridge in my interactions with others rather than a roadblock. By consciously practising silence, we can establish more intimacy and connection to the people we have relationships with.
Here are a few benefits of making time for silence during the day.
Number 1 – Stress Relief
Research suggests that noise can have a physical effect on your brain and elevate your cortisol levels – the hormone associated with stress. Working or living in a noisy environment can contribute to chronic stress. Silence appears to have the opposite effect and can help to release tension.
Number 2 – Promotes Creativity
Creativity is an integral part of life. The creative process often requires silence as it is much more challenging to be creative and imaginative when your senses are overloaded. When you practice solitude and quiet in a calm environment, you engage more with your mind. You are much more likely to experience more profound thoughts and feelings when you are not dealing with tons of external stimuli. I find that my best work happens when I disconnect from the outside world and give 100% of my attention to the task at hand.
Number 3 – Broaden Your Perspective
Silence helps you reflect on not just yourself, but your environment and everything around you. A calm, quiet environment can give you the ability to see yourself and your situation from a different perspective – a more realistic one, or from someone else’s perspective. Taking time to pause allows you space to see all sides of a situation. In turn, this will enable you to accept responsibility for your role in what happens to you, gain more control, and reflect on any potential changes you would like to make.
Number 4 – Improved Levels of Emotional Stability
Your emotional stability can also reap the benefits of being in silence. Negative emotions are less likely to affect you, or leave you feeling overwhelmed. Allow space for silence by limiting the overload of sensations in everyday life removes most of the distractions or stressors that may contribute to emotional distress or instability. Silence allows your brain’s attention centres to ‘reset’, and you start to become much better equipped to deal with whatever life brings your way. A 2015 study identified the positive physiological effects of meditative practices on the autonomic nervous system. Basically, silence restores your mental resources and makes you feel more balanced.
Number 5 – Connect with your authentic self.
In the age of social media, it is easy to fall into the trap of performing or worrying about how you are perceived by others. Silence allows space for introspection, an area where you can learn to understand yourself. Becoming more self-aware opens up possibilities and allows you to understand your true potential – you connect on your strengths and weaknesses and a better awareness of what you can accomplish.