How to solve some of life's conundrums without saying a word.
"Silence isn't empty; it is full of answers."
It was a big "wow" moment for me when I read the following two findings about silence.
1. Two minutes of silence is more relaxing than listening to "relaxing music," based on blood pressure measurements and blood circulation in the brain.
2. Two hours of daily silence led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.
Further measured benefits of silence/stillness include: cleansing and detoxifying the mind, expanding creativity, boosting the immune system, reducing stress, experiencing peaceful calm, nourishing the heart, and letting you see your inner life.
On a spiritual level, silence sets the stage for seeing clearly how much internal mind chatter goes on, along with how many stories we make up and remain mired in. Most important, it becomes obvious how all of that interferes with inner peace, mental clarity, our own true nature, and receiving the higher guidance of our soul.
A personal experience
Some years ago I participated in a weekend-long Vipassana meditation. We meditated in silence, walked in silence, ate in silence and kept the silence even when we were not meditating. What happens after a while is you become the observer of your own thoughts. Then it is possible to notice if they are true, and to just let them pass through.
One afternoon while meditating, I literally witnessed myself creating a fictional story in my mind and having all kinds of emotions related to my completely made up story. I even found myself crying about it. It was a big "ah-ha" moment to observe that this was all made up, and it was self-created mental/emotional entertainment keeping me from deep inner peace. I realized how often that must happen. And it became important to be silent and catch myself and let it go.
I also learned that silence is not scary or lonely; it is peaceful and strangely full. Some traditions refer to this silence underneath all the internal and external noise as the void. It is a place and a state of being filled with stillness and pure potential-fully pregnant with possibilities before they are activated.
External manmade noise
It's no surprise that noise pollution produces negative effects in people. In fact, when we are in locations where there is a lot of external noise, it is so stressful that we often stop hearing it. (I once lived over a subway station and never heard it.) The problem is that even though we cut off awareness of the noise, it continues to escalate stress in our bodies.
One of the simplest ways to connect with silence is to go for a silent walk, or bike ride, or ski, or just sit outside in silence. Leave the phone and the ipod at home. Nature's sounds are intentionally designed to be like a symphony of peace and recalibration to our DNA and our souls.
Five more suggestions
Turn off the radio when you are driving.
Enjoy an unplugged evening.
Notice the silence right before you fall asleep.
Meditate for 15 to 20 minutes a day.
No idle brain
When the heart is open and the brain can be calmed by silence, we can finally tap into our inner stream of wisdom and inspiration. The brain is resting from being on guard, having to process external and self-created noise. Therefore, it can actively process and bring us information from our higher self.
In silence, peace
Silence and peace belong to all of us. It is who we are-pure awareness. In silence it is possible to experience the spiritual wisdom and scientifically proven fact that we are all interconnected; we are all one. Then this is no longsome "woo-woo" cliché. When enough people embody inner peace, it can build to a tipping point and create international peace. PJH