Silence is important for your health, and we don’t get enough of it today. I’ve been thinking a lot about silence this week. In fact, I led all of my yin yoga classes in total silence this week and my students loved it. I gave them permission to do whatever felt good to do during the practice. They could silently repeat a mantra to themselves, reflect on the past year, look inward, or just “be.” All of my students felt relaxed, refreshed, calm, loved and supported when they left.
My students experienced both outward and inward silence, which I think is important. So many times I find myself driving in the car with no radio, no audio book, just total silence. It is a small way to escape from the noise pollution in our world. Many people still hear “noise” in their heads, even though it is externally silent. That’s where meditation comes in. It helps you access that inner quiet that has so many health, emotional and creativity benefits.
“Silence is the source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
As noted on PsychCentral.com, 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, the American Psychological Association now recognizes the harmful effects of noise pollution on human health and cognition.
In addition to the above mentioned physical benefits of silence, 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.
While meditation is a wonderful way to experience the benefits of both external and internal silence, it isn’t the only way to reap the benefits.
- Take a walk in nature or sit outside
- Take an extra five minutes when you wake up in the morning to stay in bed a enjoy the silence
- Focus on your breath for five minutes
- Quietly spend time with your pet, stroking them and syncing your breath with theirs
I wish you beautiful silence and serenity these last few days of the holidays, and always. May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease. – Rochelle
About the Author: Rochelle Barcellona is an animal-loving, family-and-friends-embracing, yoga-meditation-and-ayurveda-teaching, happy red-headed yogi who owns Nourish Mind Body & Spirit in Northern California. You may learn more about Rochelle here. Rochelle may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and 916-353-5200.
(Photo of Rochelle courtesy of Bella Barcellona Photography.)