“‘Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.’ – Amir”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
One positive thing that has happened in my life thanks to the lockdown and living alone for an extended period of time is that I have started appreciating the importance of silence and valuing it more. Although I have a natural preference for silence in my immediate environment, I have realized how important it is for healing, both physiological and emotional.
I have even started a new practice called Silence Sunday meditation sessions for myself, where I sit silent for a brief time, around 10-20 minutes every Sunday morning. I simply close my eyes and meditate without any guidance or music. Previously, I found unguided meditations difficult and less pleasing, but now I have started enjoying them more and more.
As I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, which I highly recommend for everyone, I’m realizing how drastically things have changed in the past few decades. In our modern life, we are constantly bombarded with sensory stimuli from every angle. And since our brain has not evolved to handle these unending attentional demands that we encounter throughout the day, this puts a significant load on it, exhausting it in the process.
As a result, the outer “priorities” rob us of the opportunity to spend quality time with the most important person in our lives — ourselves.
When our brain is in a distraction-free environment, i.e. idle and detached from external sensory inputs, we are able to finally explore our inner cosmos and tap into our thoughts, feelings, ideas and memories.
Silence gives us the opportunity to rediscover our inner world. When we engage in what researchers refer to as “self-generated cognition” i.e. activities such as daydreaming, visualizing, meditating or just sitting doing nothing and letting our minds wander, the default mode network of the brain gets activated. Triggering this network can be a game-changer in our lives — it helps us create storylines and make meaning out of our life experience, cultivate compassion both for ourselves and others, and be more creative in general.
Engaging this network via silence equips us to participate in reflection which is a much deeper state than the occasional introspection. We equip ourselves with the ability to connect the dots in a seemingly disorganized and chaotic world filled with random events. We become more self-aware, and get inspired to live a more aligned life and improve ourselves in the areas that we find challenging, whether it be finances, work, health or relationships. In simple words, silence helps us restore balance in our lives.
So, as you navigate your everyday life, engage in silence whenever you can. It’s the best way to experience and explore our deeper essence and consciousness. As Rumi beautifully wrote, “In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”