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.