Si­lence is golden

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

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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