Silence is golden
FROM the moment we let out our first cry, we add to the soundtrack of life.
A big chunk of this soundtrack is conversations with others, and as we get older, communication becomes more layered, dynamic and complex.
Navigating or keeping up with a conversation today can take up more brain space, time and energy than ever before.
In our hi-speed world, we are all about engaging. Our world is already full of people and products fighting for our attention, resources and time.
Without realising it, we end up being part of all that noise because we’re told to be constantly engaged.
Whether with friends during a lunch break, strangers on the train ride home or by tapping away on our phone screens, we are immersed in something other than ourselves. What many of us don’t realise is that this can sometimes prevent us from a much-needed recharge.
Studies have shown that silence helps brain cells grow and that in silence the brain is able to process things best when it is focused on self-reflection instead of goaloriented responsibilities or tasks. At the same time, silence relieves stress.
A culture that emphasises the need for silence and solitude is springing up against our backdrop of noise. Silent retreats, silent parties and even silent speed dating is becoming more desired. What used to be confined to religion is now widely accepted as the fulfilment of every human’s need for rest and respite.
I am an introvert. But I can also be extremely sociable. What happens in my struggle to strike a balance is that my constant push to be engaged in conversation and invested in relationships means that my calendar is usually filled.
Without my alonetime, however, I get drained mentally, physically and emotionally. And I think many of us feel that way, but we can’t place a finger on why we feel the exhaustion creeping up on us or why our fuses seem shorter. The reality is that our brains need a break.
Thanks to understanding family, friends and colleagues, I can safely withdraw into a shell of silence. In that shell, I am alone; away from blaring ads on television, the bright fluorescent lights of billboards, the sound of fingers tapping away on keyboards, and the demand for my attention, words and thoughts.
Each of us should feel confident, and comfortable enough to retreat into a shell of silence. Research has found that two minutes of silence relaxes us more than two minutes of “relaxing” music after measuring changes in blood pressure and circulation in the brain.
Needless to say, we must invest in relationships; without them we would be lonely individuals. We must engage in conversations, for they expand our horizons and teach us new things about life and ourselves. But in joining the rhythm of our fast-track world, let’s also catch up with those who have discovered the worth of silence.
We don’t always have to engage in conversation, but when we do, let’s make them meaningful.
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