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Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Benefits Of Momentary Silence


Do you ever find yourself asking: “Why is it SO LOUD?”. Inside your head and out, the noise can become overwhelming before you even realize it. Think about it: When was the last time you sat in complete silence? Those moments are likely few and far between, right? Did you know that the very essence of our beings requires these brief moments of absolute nothingness? Now, you know. But what can you do with that information? How do you find quiet moments when everything about your life is just so busy? That's exactly what we're going to look at.

First, let's look at what “silence” really means.

The dictionary definition of silence is:

“absence of any sound or noise; stillness.”

Of course, we're not talking about absolutely silence. You'll always hear something, like the sound of your blood pumping through your veins. That's a natural sound. One that can't be silenced. The idea of silence as it pertains to your health is more in reference to stimulating noise (the television, music, conversation, etc).

In the modern day and age, where exactly are you going to find a total absence of that kind of sound? The fact is, you really can't. Even when you're sitting alone, without the television/music on, there are background sounds outside. Cars driving by. Airplanes flying overhead. There is a constant state of motion within the world, causing a consistent buzz of sound.

What can you do, right?

Before we talk about how to find silence, let's look at why you really need silence in your life.

  • Noise is a well-known stress factor 
  • Noise can trigger the fight/flight/freeze reaction inside every individual
  • Noise can increase anxiety
  • Noise makes it hard to focus and reduces concentration
  • Noise can be a distraction
  • Noise can keep your body/mind in an “active” state

The fact is, whenever there is excessive sound, our bodies react by staying alert. That's why the issues mentioned above occur. In order to concentrate, you have to focus. To focus, you have to have complete silence. In order to have complete silence, you have to relax. To relax, you have to have complete silence. Do you see how the cycle finds itself entirely reliant on your ability to drown out the noise around you?

When the world quiets down to a mere white noise, that's when your body starts to slow down. Your stress levels drop. Your mind relaxes. Your body finally rests. There is no anxiety and you can find yourself more focused on the tasks ahead.

Why is it so hard to achieve that level of calmness?

As human beings, we're now conditioned to live in a certain level of anxiety. We need the noise around us to drown out those thoughts of loneliness, depression and utter failure. Without that noise, we would have nothing but our own thinking to keep us company. Sometimes, thinking is the most dangerous thing you can do. Sometimes, silence is nothing more than a nightmare.

But every once in a while, a nightmare is needed to keep you level.

So, how can you find that comfortable silence that your body needs?

There are options, like a retreat off in the middle of nowhere, where the only sound is birds and running water. Not all of us can afford to take that kind of vacation from our lives, though. Many of us wouldn't want to. You simply have to find a way to bring the natural silence to your own home.

  • Turn off all your electronics
  • Focus on the sound of your body as it's working to keep you alive and healthy
  • Drown out the buzz of the world around you
  • Find an inner serenity that calms your soul

These are the real tricks to finding silence in the modern age.  But, not the only suggestions. The above list targets the things you can do right now and from the comfort of your home. Shutting off “the buzz” of life is hard, though. It's not possible for everyone. For those people, it's crucial to incorporate the buzz of the world around you by:

  • Listening to the white noise of traffic from your window/porch/park
  • Heading to the park to lay in the soft grass and listen to the birds, or the sound of children laughing and playing in the distance
  • Watching the stairs and hearing nothing but the hum of the traffic
  • Listening to the rain as it's hitting the window pane
  • Sitting beside the ocean (any body of water) and listening the waves slowly making contact with the shore
  • Sitting in a forest and listening to the rustling of the wind through the trees or the birds in the distance
  • Camping and listening to the roaring fire (or sitting in your living room, if that's an option)

Lastly, you can always download a “white noise” application that plays soothing sounds (like anything mentioned above). It's a last resort, because the idea of silence is to get away from the buzzing of the modern age. Any electronics, despite their use, are a constant buzz. A constant distraction. Try using a method suggested above and leave your cellphone behind.

The idea is simply that you find a way to become more attune with nature and less with technology. Reduce “the buzz” until you no longer hear it, or learn to drown it out with other sounds.

Even if you're tempted to maintain the noise-levels, to reduce thinking and avoid facing yourself alone in the silence, you have to make occasional exceptions. Of course, one of the easiest ways to relax and drown out “the buzz” is laying in the bathtub with classical instrumental in the background. The [soothing feeling of the water aids in your relaxation] and helps you clear your mind.

Really, all that matters is you find inner silence. If your method isn't the same as everyone else, that's fine too. There is no right or wrong way to find silence – but if you don't seek it once in a while, there's  a good chance you'll slowly drive yourself insane.