In this ever-increasing world of noise, and when I say noise I mean in the form of blue screens and busy social calendars too, our lives are becoming more and more full up and with no space to actually have some time to allow the mind to rest, to digest and to restore and revive and have some silence. Famous people like Oprah Winfrey and many others are starting to check themselves into silent retreats where they get that sense of space and calm that is lacking in society more and more. Read on to find out why a slice of silence a day is good for you.
Why is it important for us to find some quiet time – especially in an age of so much noise?
Being silent gives us the opportunity to create space in our lives. It allows the brain to relax and gives us the space to think, act and play catch up with our mind. We are so overstimulated in this modern age, creating this space can give us health benefits mentally, physically and emotionally. There have been scientific studies into the benefits of silence, of which there are many such as relieving stress, improving memory, calming the mind, stimulates brain growth and heightens sensitivity.
How does it help us relax – what does it do to our brain? Why no noise – not even relaxing sounds or music?
When the brain rests in silence, its given the opportunity to regenerate. studies conducted by the Journal Brain Structure and function found at least two hours of silence a day could create new cells in the hippocampus part of the brain which is essentially linked to our ability to learn, remember things and even our emotions. It affects the emotions by reducing stress because noise can overproduce stress hormones. This happens because a sound wave hits the brain as an electrical signal via the ear, and this causes the body to react to these sounds. The amygdala part of the brain which is associated with memory formation and emotion activates and this leads to the release of stress hormones. Silence can release tension in the brain and the body in just two minutes and researchers found it was more relaxing than listening to music. They have also discovered that silence has the reverse effect and releases tension in the brain and body.
Do we need to ‘practice’ being silent?
It is a good idea to practice being silent, factoring in some quiet time each day. It can only be for 2 minutes. Choose a time that you will be quiet and factor it into your daily routine. You could even keep a journal about how you feel after the silence if you feel calmer, more clarity. You may even start enjoying it! This can be through meditation, going for a walk on your own, switching off all noise at home and choosing to read or relax in other ways instead of watching the TV or listening to the radio. Try it before you go to bed by meditating for 10 minutes or read instead of watching the TV and see how much quicker you fall asleep.
How can we incorporate silence into our daily lives?
Even if you take two minutes to be mindfully silent every day, you will feel the benefit. Try taking a walk. First thing in the morning before people rise is a nice way to do it. If you have a dog or live in the countryside these can inspire you to do this. Choose a few nights a week when no noise is switched on at home. Read, draw, knit or chose a new hobby that is peaceful. Try meditation for 3 minutes in the morning if you are new to it and increase to 10 minutes. You can choose to walk to work in silence. There are quick wins to bring more peace into your day, so try it and see how you feel.
Try a silent morning
On all of our UK retreats, we have a silent walk first thing from 8am – 8.30am and we encourage silence from as soon as everyone wakes up until after the morning yoga at 10.30am. It is a blissful way to start the day, although some people do struggle with the silence and have the need to speak. It is good for them to observe this in themselves and learn from it. The communal silence is even more powerful than when you are on your own. It feels even more silent – in a good way! You capture magical moments on silent walks, like dear darting out in front of you, the sunrise in deep winter time, animals emerging from their slumber, the feel of rain or even snow on your skin. It is truly magical and the connection to nature feeds your soul. Give it a go at home and see how you feel.
Check our calendar page for our UK retreats, we stay in Wales Brecon Beacons National Park, St Agnes in Cornwall, The Lake District, East Sussex, Oxfordshire, and Norfolk. Come and enjoy some silence with us!