The value of silence is greatly underestimated in modern day society. Not only are we unable to truly cherish silence, but we also give our very best to avoid it. Most people simply can’t stand silence, which is why they run from it. They try to keep their minds entertained as much as possible. But once they are confronted with silence, a feeling of helplessness and uneasiness starts to emerge. Consequently, the state of ‘not doing’ and the silence that accompanies it are widely regarded as the ultimate sin or punishment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Silence and stillness are not our enemies. They can be great teachers and a source of profound reflection. By allowing stillness to unfold, you can come closer in touch with your ‘true self.’ Besides that, silence has a tremendous restorative power and can help you to recover happiness and contentment. Here’s an exploration of the great power of silence.
We live in a culture in which silence, stillness and contemplation are no longer part of the average person’s day-to-day life. On the one side, we are continuously confronted with noise and disturbing sounds. No matter if it’s industrial noise, music or cars passing by, true silence is incredibly difficult to come by. On the other side, our minds are bombarded with (in most cases truly irrelevant) information. Consequently, calmness and stillness of the mind have become phenomena unbeknownst to large parts of society.
These two factors greatly influence our lives. They have become so omnipresent that it’s difficult to imagine that only a few hundred years ago, prolonged phases of silence were a regular part of life. Whereas it was once considered unnatural to be surrounded by (annoying) sounds, it has become the norm of present-day life. Instead of running from it, we actively seek to “enrich” our lives with a great variety of (auditory) stimuli. Living surrounded by noise, however, has a variety of negative effects on us. Not only is the (mechanical) noise that surrounds us fundamentally disturbing. But it is also a factor that greatly increases our stress levels.
In this modern day and age, it has become the norm that auditory and visual noises are all around us. Even more so, the fact that our senses are being bombarded with information seems natural to most of us. There’s a sheer flood of external stimuli seeking to catch our attention. The act of processing and filtering these huge streams of information drains us. It greatly reduces mental energy and contributes to the feeling of being constantly in a rush. Nervousness, anxiety and tensions are the likely outcome. Even more importantly, the information overload shifts our attention away from that which is significant and meaningful to the unimportant and insignificant.
“Silence is a source of Great Strength.”
Stillness can help to reestablish harmony and balance. It can become the calm counterpart that aids us in our ability to better cope with a hectic and stimuli-driven life. The power of silence can further provide a means of helping us to recharge batteries. It introduces stillness and calmness to our lives and in doing so helps us to live more in balance.
The power of silence
Table of contents
Over the course of decades, a variety of external distractions (noise, entertainment, etc.) have become integral parts of regular life. The process happened slowly but gradually. It occurred largely unquestioned. Rather than being considered disruptive and unproductive, the new state of affairs became omnipresent and widely accepted. An ever more growing number of the people alive today grew up in this state. For them, being distracted and entertained all the time has become the norm. They know no difference to this state of being, so they assume that it is natural.
Modern-day people are no longer confronted regularly with periods of silence. A wide variety of technological gadgets and spare time activities quickly eliminate even the slightest traces of silence. As a result, we are no longer used to silence. We don’t know the great potential that can be accessed through calmness of the mind. What is even more disturbing, the vast majority of people have become afraid of silence.
Silence resembles inactivity and is therefore considered highly unproductive. Additionally, whenever the average person this confronted with silence, a feeling of discomfort starts to arise. Silence confronts them with all kinds of questions and thoughts they would rather ignore. Silence has therefore become something most try to avoid at all costs.
Instead of being irritated by ceaseless activity, most people feel uneasy when there’s nothing to draw away their attention. In short, silence is perceived as a painful punishment. It is widely regarded as an enemy that strictly needs to be avoided.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Silence is not only a great ally, but it also can have a profound but powerful impact upon our lives.
Why is silence and stillness so powerful? What’s the benefit of silence? Here’s an exploration of the power of silence.
1. Liberation from the inner noise
From the moment we wake, we are confronted with inner noise. This seemingly never-ending stream of thoughts, memories, daydreams and fears fully occupies the mind. It has become an omnipresent barrier that prevents access to the deeper levels of the mind that are characterized by natural quietness.
The mental chattering can occupy us to such a degree that we are no longer able to properly concentrate on the task at hand. The reduction of our attention span, however, is only a minor consequence of the inner noise. Something that weighs far heavier is the fact that the inner noise causes us to pore over worries without an end. It can be greatly troubling to be imprisoned within a vicious circle, unable to stop imagining horrible scenarios about the upcoming future.
Silence has the power to liberate us from the omnipresent chatter of the mind. It helps us to shift our attention from the past or future back to this present moment. By doing so, we start enjoying the beauty of the moment, instead of pondering about past mistakes we cannot make undone and worrying about things that haven’t even taken place.
2. The great teacher within
Silence and stillness are not our enemies. They can be powerful allies and great teachers. We only need to listen.
Silence helps us to become more relaxed. The mind no longer has to filter and process unlimited streams of information. Additionally, the ongoing chatter of the mind is slowly reduced. Like a sea that is slowly coming to rest after a storm, silence slowly introduces tranquility and peacefulness to our stressed minds. It can further help us to clear our minds and encourages a state of clarity to emerge. Our thought processes are less driven by instincts, desires and the ego. Instead, they become more in tune with the intuition and a person’s true virtues.
The powerful effect of silence can help us to better understand what the teacher within has to say. There are many different descriptions for the teacher within. Some call it intuition others consider it to be a purer part of oneself. The whole concept can mean all kinds of different things to different people. However, labeling this source of wisdom from within is not important.
All that matters is that silence brings us closer in touch with an important source of wisdom, clarity and peacefulness.
3. Connection to the true self
External stimuli and the unending mental chattering prevent us from ever being able to be who we truly are. Instead of being our authentic selves and living with integrity, we allow external influences to greatly shape who we are and how we behave. This whole process can happen entirely unbeknownst to us. Like sponges, our minds unquestioningly pick up all kinds of behaviors, opinions and perceptions from the world around us. Therefore, we are to a great extent products of our environments. During the course of many years, we slowly have lost touch with our true essence. We are no longer deeply connected with the true self that lies at the root of our being.
The true self is our ‘real self’ that is not influenced by external influences or the ego. It is our very core essence and our source of true authenticity. When we are connected to the purest part of ourselves, we let go of the defensive facade of the false self. Instead of chasing material possessions and running from our fears, the true self manifests a certain feeling of security and acceptance. It is a great source of peacefulness and calmness.
The power of silence helps us to (re-) connect with a more authentic part of ourselves. By overcoming external noise and internal chattering, something that usually lies dormant starts to unfold. It is a part of ourselves that does not surface while we’re busy watching TV, or while being thoughtlessly engaged in the chatter of our minds. Only in a state in which the mind is calm and perfectly still, the true self and its various manifestations come to the surface.
Silence is the most important requirement for this process. Meditation, however, can help the individual to perfect this process.
4. Mental clarity
The ceaseless bombardment with information and the chattering of the mind clouds our consciousness. This kind of brain fog slows mental processes down and makes us act in a dull and emotional manner. Countless times in life we experience firsthand how emotions negatively influence the decisions we meet. Whenever we allow our emotions to take over or react blindly, negative consequences are almost always the result. Sooner or later we come to regret the decisions that we meet without having established mental clarity.
Through the act of regularly delving into silence, we can ground ourselves. Stillness of the mind helps us to establish and maintain mental clarity. By spending each day some time in silence, we can greatly increase the clarity of our mental processes. Doing so can have a profound impact in your life. Once accessed daily, this kind of clarity acts as a power source that fuels your actions throughout the day. You’ll be less inclined to experience mental fogginess. Also, the decisions you meet will become less emotional and response-driven.
5. Inner peace
In a world of turmoil, silence can help us to reestablish peace within ourselves.
To a large degree, we are unable to change what happens in the world around us. It is therefore all the more important to take great care how we react to these events. Even more so, it is crucial for our well-being that we find ways to calm the waves that were caused within by the various storms of the external world sweeping across our minds. Stillness can greatly help you to establish inner peace. It can help you to better cope with the things that happen around you by allowing you to maintain inner peace.
6. Increased concentration
As already outlined, silence can help you to calm down and to enter a state of mental clarity. An excellent side-effect to this increased clarity lies in significant improvements of your concentration. If there is less mental chattering that distracts you, your ability to focus on a given task will increase tremendously. As a result of increased concentration levels, you will become a lot more productive at everything you do.
7. Shifted attention from the irrelevant to the important
Far too often in life, our focus lies on entirely irrelevant things. We spend a great deal of our time chasing material things we don’t really need or try to impress people we don’t even like. Even more so, we also succumb to the temptation of engaging in entertaining but useless activities.
Silence can greatly help you to rebalance your value system. It will quickly shift your attention away from that which is unimportant to more meaningful aspect of your life. In doing so, silence can act as the catalyst that encourages us to spend more of our time for meaningful purposes.
8. Less bothered by the little things in life
In life, every one of us is confronted with a wide variety of unimportant things. These little things are truly insignificant, but many of us place great emphasis upon them. We haven’t set our priorities straight, so we fall prey to worrying about things that are not even important.
Cultivating the habit of enjoying silence can help you to reduce the impact little things can have upon your life. Mental stillness can give you the necessary tranquility to simply let these things pass by. Instead of being irritated or offended by minor occurrences, silence can give you the necessary mental strength to treat these things as they are.
We’re living in the age of information. Hectic, stress and a seemingly never-ending flow of information has become part of our daily lives. For this reason, it’s all the more important to cultivate silence. It helps us to reduce the negative side-effects of the bombardment with information. It further allows us to recharge our batteries and to gain access to a greater part of ourselves.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the power of silence. Has silence and contemplation helped you to become a more balanced individual?