It’s what we crave when we escape to the beach, the woods and the mountains. It’s why we prefer “private” balconies, back yards and islands.
Silence is what we instinctively seek when we need to “clear our heads” or “get some air”.
The physical health benefits of silence and stillness are lengthy, take a look at just some:
- reduces stress which lowers blood cortisol and adrenaline levels
- boosts brain chemistry
- improves energy
- boosts the immune system
- regulates hormones
- prevents plaque from forming in arteries
- reduces pain
- reduces inflammation (for more on why this is so important, check out this article www.eatingwell.com , 10 Ways to Reduce Inflammation http://bit.ly/1waO1Tk)
- aids in optimal digestion of food
- relaxed central nervous system
- weight loss (for more on that, check out this article on Shayna Hiller’s blog at http://bit.ly/1BfkEP4)
So, for all the benefits of being silent and still, why have we filled our world with the exact opposite?
Constant distraction covers the real, authentic, raw, unfiltered, vulnerable us.
This is why so many people fill their bodies with coffee and grab a smart phone within minutes of waking up. It’s why televisions are left on all over the house, even if no one is watching them. It’s why people reach for a cocktail in a noisy bar after a hard day at work.
When we sit in silence, in stillness, so many feelings and thoughts rise to the surface, many of them unpleasant, and so we try to suppress those feelings quickly, by drowning them out with noise and numbness.
Having to face ourselves can sometimes mean feeling the judgment, shame, negativity, fear, self-loathing, insecurity, anger and depression going on inside of us.
And that’s okay.
If we allow those feelings to surface, and we acknowledge and observe them, rather than immediately trying to escape from them, we will be able to accept and then learn and grow from those feelings.
Once we do this, being silent and still puts us in our natural state of being.
“Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of the gods.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we are in a place of silence, we start to notice how our food tastes, the beauty of the flowers, trees and grass outside, the blends and textures on the canvas of a painting, the breeze, our own breath.
There is power in silence.
When you choose to be silent, you have more control in conversations. Business leaders practice this when negotiations have come to an impasse.
Being silent means you observe more and speak less. This allows people to say what they need to, and they know you’re listening, and that they can trust you.
“A thoroughly good relationship with ourselves results in being still, which doesn’t mean we don’t run and jump and dance about. It means there’s no compulsiveness. We don’t overwork, overeat, oversmoke, overseduce. In short, we begin to stop causing harm.” – Pema Chodron
Being in a healthy relationship with others starts by being in a good relationship with ourselves. Silence is a great way to nourish our relationship with self.
In addition to improving relationships, many people find that sitting in silence/stillness fosters gratitude (which among other benefits has also been linked to improving immune health). Additionally, sitting in silence improves your judgment as you’ll start to pay more attention to your 6th sense or “gut feelings”.
I’d urge you to start paying attention to the noise in your life. Loud music, television, video games, smart phones/tablets, gossip – which is unhealthy “noise” perpetuating more noise, filling the silence with trivial conversation…
Consider creating a space where you can invite silence/stillness into your day.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa
For more on the benefits of stillness in nature…. Can You Hear Nature’s Sounds by Barbara King for NPR http://n.pr/1FPsXFa
For those of us whose plates feel too full … Human Beings vs. Human Doings by Joan E. Childs for The Huffington Post http://huff.to/1waPgC5
Tell me your stories of stillness. Where do you go to find silence? What scares you about silence? Tweet me or leave a message here!