What Happens When You Give Yourself the Silent Treatment?
Why does ‘the silent treatment’ get such a bad rap?
I mean, these days silence truly is golden, what with all the ever-present ‘noise’ filling every corner of our world.
Sometimes even when we think we are resting into quietude, when we focus in and listen very closely, we hear the purr of the 21st century.
Wake up in the deep, dark, middle of the night and what do you hear? The ticking of clocks, the hum of the refrigerator, and cars driving by.
Having a nice ‘quiet’ lunch? Oh yes, except for the vibrating buzz of your phone, background music, and microwave heating your food.
You get the picture. You may be able to find a ‘quieter’ space, but these days it is extremely difficult to find a genuinely silent space.
Just why do you insist on (or accept) being enveloped in sound?
Well, many folks cannot imagine what it means to be quiet, let alone silent these days.
Silence implies non-action and non-productivity, and today’s society is all about busyness. How much can you fit into one day, one hour, one minute? You are doing one thing, and already your mind is ten steps ahead thinking of the next thing. Go, go, go!
With busyness comes noise. And you are so accustomed to this noise, it is like that favorite, worn-and-torn baby blanket of yours: it brings a sense of comfort and security.
When your world gets too quiet you feel exposed, awkward and uncomfortable. You may not know quite what to do with your thoughts and focus. And who likes to feel out of whack like that?! It is much more natural and comfortable to wrap yourself in noise.
But…believe it or not, silence is so good for you!
“Silence isn’t empty. It’s full of answers.” ~ Unknown
Okay, so being full of answers sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Let’s look at a few other benefits of giving yourself the silent treatment:
- Stress-relieving: The noise that you are surrounded by triggers your brain to react by releasing stress hormones. The more noise, the more stress hormones are released, and thus the more stressed you feel. Silence helps to diminish the tension in your brain and body.
- Creativity-inducing: When you take the opportunity to ‘shut off’ the outside noises your brain gets to relax and rejuvenate. It disengages from being on high alert. This allows you to tap more deeply into your creative, reflective, and intuitive sides. Bring on the silence and think outside the box!
- Attention-restoring: Do you sometimes feel distracted and unfocused,like you cannot think straight? Give yourself a quick timeout in a quiet space and see what happens. When your brain is at attention non-stop, it becomes fuzzy. Allowing a few minutes of downtime enables your brain to refresh and restore itself.
- Memory-improving: Spending time alone in nature can cause growth in the hippocampus area of your brain. This is the area that is associated with spatial memory. Quiet time enhances your focus and, thus, your ability to record information about your environment and spatial orientation.
- Sense-enhancing: The fewer things you take in, the more intensely you become aware of what you are taking in. Try it. Close your eyes. You become more aware of the sounds and smells around you. By quieting yourself, or being in a quiet place, you allow yourself to place more attention on other senses.
Those are some powerful benefits!
Now you may be thinking, “In today’s busy, noisy world, how am I supposed to find silence?”
Yes, it can be difficult to find that perfectly silent space for an extended amount of time. But finding a quiet-ish space for even a little bit of time will help to transform your day. Start as small or as large as you feel is correct for you:
Take a two-minute, silent mind-vacation: turn off as many distractions as you can, find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and rest into the silence of your mind.
Take a walk: venture outside by yourself, turn off your phone, look around and be inspired by what you see and hear.
Meditate: there are many forms of meditation to choose from, i.e. chanting, guided meditations, silent meditations, Conscious Meditation™, musical meditation. Choose the one(s) that most resonates with you and gift yourself time as often as possible.
Create: when you ‘get into the zone’ of your creativity, you are able to block out other distractions and just focus on the flow of your creativity, be it through art, music, writing, dancing, decorating, building…whatever!
Be in nature: it is difficult not to be drawn into the quiet and solitude of walking along the lake collecting shells, laying on the ground watching the clouds, following the flight of a flock of birds, or sitting with your back against a warm rock.
I bet you have your own ways of finding pockets of silence, too…share your dose of solitude with us.
Do not underestimate the power of silence. Why choose to spend so many of your days in the midst of noise when you could be enjoying the benefits of the silent treatment?
“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.” ~ Unknown
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If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).