We’re fascinated by the words. But where we meet is in the silence behind them. ~Ram Dass
Why do we need silence? That disarming question launched a recent conversation I had with a health reporter. The answer to that question has many parts.
Why? Because there’s inner silence and there’s outer silence. They’re related, but they’re not the same. Also, silence isn’t a static thing. It’s dynamic, and it weaves through our lives like an invisible umbilical cord, nourishing our minds and souls and connecting us to a vast inner and outer cosmos.
But the truth is, most of us don’t get nearly enough of it. We suffer as a result.
A Short History of Silence
Historically, humanity lived with a great measure of silence in our lives. Recorded music was a complete novelty less than one hundred years ago.
Heavy machinery, construction, traffic, and the omnipresent drone of the modern age commenced just a few hundred years ago. And still, that only effected the relative few who lived in the cities.
Why We Need Silence
In contrast, these days most of us live in a buzzing field of ambient noise. TVs, iPhones, booming car stereos, whaling sirens, honking horns, and shouting neighbors are a steady state experience here in the city.
If you live in an urban environment like I do, noise pollution is everywhere. What most of us don’t realize is how it slowly erodes our quality of life. Unseen, it seeps into us and disquiets our minds.
In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) has started tracking the harmful effects of noise pollution on our health and cognition. According some recent studies, ongoing exposure to noise pollution, “may lead to higher blood pressure and fatal heart attacks.”
A Deeper Layer of Silence
But what does this have to do with inner silence? So far, we’re just talking about silence at the superficial level. Of course there is a deeper layer of silence—inner silence.
You see, that kind of silence is an integral part of who we are at our core. You could even say that it’s part of our nature.
At the center of you and me there is a reservoir of perfect stillness and silence. Meditation offers reliable passage to that ocean of calm that lies beyond the noise of your mind.
And here’s the thing. All of us need regular contact and communion with that part of ourselves. It keeps us sane, centered, and grounded in the best part of ourselves. It’s where we reconnect with the source of who we are. That’s one of the best reasons to make meditation a daily habit.
The Benefits of Silence
The good news is that silence is never far away. If you pay attention, you can notice moments of silence that slice through the noise like shots of sunlight through autumn leaves.
In this episode of the podcast, we explore the benefits of silence in meditation and in our lives. We also examine the effects of too little silence and the toll it takes on our physical, emotional, and psychological health.
According to Dr Paul Haider, the physiological benefits of silence include:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boosts your immune system
- Boosts your brain chemistry
- Reduces stress (lowers blood cortisol levels and adrenaline levels)
- Allows for good hormone regulation and interaction of all the hormone related systems in your body.
- Keeps plaques from forming in arteries
We explore a number of questions related to silence, for example: what lessons can we learn from silence? How can we get more of it? Can we nurture inner silence even while our minds are distracted? There is so much to glean from this vast topic, but at the very least, silence show us:
- There is much more to us than what we think.
- How to pay better attention to the world around us, our relationships, and how we are in the world.
- How to be open at the level of your being, and not just your mind.
- How to connect with life more directly, more intimately, and more richly. You become sensitive to the flow of life force in yourself, in others, and in your environment.
In this episode of the OneMind Meditation Podcast, we also spend time unpacking the value and benefits of silence in the context of stress, solitude, rejuvenation, creativity, health, noble silence, and presence.
- If you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like our Meditation for Life Mini Course
- Learn more about our free awareness meditation course, How To Free Your Mind & Discover Deep Peace
- Take a self-paced introduction to Meditation, explore the Core Training Program
- Leave us a rating & review on iTunes
Klara Hoss says
Thanks Morgan for this excellent summary on silence. Silence is what is stolen from us in the civilized world, but as a result we lost ourselves.
I regard this topic very important, so I curated your post to my readers. Thanks again.
Morgan Dix says
Hi Klara, Thanks so much for your comment and I’m happy you liked this short summary on silence.
Beautiful and awesome, as always. Thanks Morgan!
Morgan Dix says
Thanks a lot Michaela!
Thank you for a wonderful and soothing commentary on silence. I would appreciate your advice on a very difficult situation:
I live in NYC, and while I have endured the still-ongoing construction of a luxury building across the street since May 2014, from Monday-Friday, 7am – dusk, and Saturdays from 8:30 am – 4:30 PM, I have become almost depserate due to a bridge-building city project below my window that began in August, during the following hours: Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm, AND READY? 9:30 PM – 6AM Mon-Fri, for the next 2 years.
I follow a daily home yoga practice of 90 minutes early in the morning, which I started 1 1/2 yers ago. I am sure this has helped. But the relentlessly grating and intolerable noise from this city project is intolerable on so many levels. We have fought against the nighttime hours, but the city has acted unconscionably and illegally , and will continue to do so.
I sometimes have to leave to sleep, and go in the bathroom to talk on the phone. It’s that bad. And now I am sure I have some PTSD because whenever I hear an unexpected loud contruction noise I jump. I am not alone in this matter – my neighbors too have suffered greatly.
What can I do, or rather, how can I look at this, arrive at a measure of acceptance, I guess, so that I can live through the barrage?
Many thanks for your thoughts, and for your work.
Morgan Dix says
Thanks for your feedback and comment. All I can say is Wow! That’s quite a situation and it certainly sounds untenable. This may sound ridiculously simple at this stage, but do you sleep with earplugs? When I moved to Boston from the country I had to start using them because I just couldn’t sleep at night from all the noise on the streets? It made a huge difference for me. This sounds a little more intense than that, cause that noise was punctuated. Yours sounds more constant and truly invasive.
The only other think I can compare it to was when something happened in my family that I couldn’t do anything about. It drove me nuts, but it was categorically out of my control. Once I knew that I couldn’t do anything about it, I was able to surrender. That made a big difference for me and brought me some peace of mind. So I guess if there is a lesson to take from that for your situation, it would be just to make sure you’ve done absolutely everything possible to get them to stop. And if it doesn’t work, maybe surrender is your last option. I wish I had better answer than that…Good luck!
Thank you Morgan so very much for your thoughtful response. I do wear earplugs, have been since I moved here 11 years ago. There is nothing that I nor my neighbors can do – it is completely out of our control. I recently came across a passage from my book by Viktor Frankl – Meaning of Life, where he says – and I’m paraphrasing – that in the concentration camps, when the men would give their last bread to each other, that this was sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man except his attitude in a given situation. I had a feeling that surrender might come up, and I have had moments in my life where I had to do this. But I fought the whole time – like now, which got me nowhere really. This time I will take your advice to heart, and maybe read a lot about what true surrender is, without the fight. I suppose it may take some practice. Thank you again, I appreciate it very much.