“As the tide rolled in, it brought with it fierce waves – they pounded against the rocks with great force. There was no mercy. That powerful sound of waves crashing could be heard even from a distance. Slowly as the hours passed, the tide began to roll back out. The waves eventually dissipated and the sea was calm again. The sand settled back on to the ocean floor, the water became translucent and it became clear to see creatures moving on the sea bed.”

Have you ever noticed how LOUD our world is? Phones ringing, TV’s switched on, music on the radio, children screaming, people chattering, traffic, cars honking… it’s really loud! And our minds are being constantly pounded with these waves… sound waves! Silence in our fast paced and noisy world is fast becoming a hot commodity.

What Research Tells Us About Noise

Interestingly enough, research indicates that people that are consistently exposed to loud environments can experience significantly higher levels of stress hormones. In-fact, in 2011 the World Health Organization linked noise pollution to a range of health issues and concluded that the “340 million residents of western Europe annually lost a million years of healthy life because of noise”. We may not all be exposed to such levels of noise, but to me what this really highlights is the importance and the need for silence!

Research tells us that just five minutes of silence a day can make a difference on our mental well-being. There are also studies that indicate that two hours of silence a day can prompt the regeneration of certain brain cells. Though proven, science doesn’t need to tell us what we can already observe from our own lives, and that is how silence can help us to relax, de-stress, improve our focus and mental clarity.

Why Silence Is So Important

We may find ourselves so busy, that finding time for silence seems impossible and is not a priority. My take on this is that because we are so busy, it becomes even more important that we let the waves settle. Just as the ocean, when the waves dissipate, the water becomes translucent, things become clear. A clear, focused mind is imperative for us to be effective people in our busy lives. And when we are facing problems or stress, as the Dai Lai Lama says, “sometimes all we need is silence.”

The Silence Challenge

If you feel like you’re not able to get enough quiet time in your life, I challenge you to consciously make an effort to seek it out. Start by setting aside at least 5 minutes each day to just to sit and embrace the sound of silence. And if your environment is too loud, create a sanctuary… this could be a room where you close the door, an early morning walk through a neighbouring park, or even just ear muffs on and eyes shut while you ride the train into work. Let the waves roll back out and take a few moments to enjoy the calm sea.

“To hear one must be silent” – Ursula K. Le Guin

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Resources:

Natutil: http://nautil.us/issue/16/nothingness/this-is-your-brain-on-silence

Researcg Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259110014_Is_silence_golden_Effects_of_auditory_stimuli_and_their_absence_on_adult_hippocampal_neurogenesis

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/silence-brain-benefits_us_56d83967e4b0000de4037004?section=australia