The Spiritual Practice of Silence
Until recently our world has been filled with noise and busyness. Passing street cars, horns honking, banging from the nearby construction and many other sounds that take our attention. Our thoughts focus on these distractions and other things throughout the day causing us to drown out the small sweet sounds like the wind rustling the nearby leaves or the birds tweeting their beautiful song. When we actually stop and listen, I mean truly listen, and minimize our inner dialogue we just may notice the rest of the amazing world. It is in this silencing of ourselves were our awareness is heightened and we see our deeper self.
Be Still and Know I Am God
- Psalm 46:10
Silence has a way of creating space within for us to seek the sacred. Its a practice that has been going on for centuries and is still commonly used for renewal and discovery along the spiritual journey. It allows us to let go of the burdens and stresses before us and recenter our perspective to what matters most.
Silence can be scary and intimidating. Some people are scared of silence because silence causes us to examine who we are and just maybe we are unsure if that is who we really want to be. This running away from our true self causes us to make choices that do not correspond to our values or desires. It can ultimately cause us to be overwhelmed and stressed.
Another reason why silence is intimidating is it takes away our most valuable commodity, time. Our lives are busy and to think about sitting silently doesn't seem productive. However the research speaks for itself indicating when we sit silently we are able to tap into our minds, thoughts, emotions, and creativity so that we can be more productive. It also allows us time to assess our mental and emotional states so we can keep good balance and mental health.
Benefits of Silence:
A 2013 study showed when mice were exposed to two hours of silence every day their hippocampus areas developed new cells which become integrated neurons. The hippocampus is a part of the temporal lobe of the brain primarily responsible for memory. It is also suggested that it plays a major role in spatial processing and navigation.
One study looked at various music styles to determine relaxation on the brain. What they found was the 2 minute silent breaks between whatever music styles chosen actually had greater relaxation benefits on the brain than the music.
According to an article on the Huffington Post, higher noise levels have been linked to increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and disruptions in sleep patterns based on an environmental psychologist in 2004. So too much noise can cause health problems. Creating quiet time and space can help fight against some of these health issues that may arise.
This sounds so simple! Yet creating moments to be in a quiet location and silencing our minds at the same time is difficult. Here are some tips for practicing silence.
1. Schedule it - Make silence a part of your routine that is built into your schedule. Give yourself a certain time each day for this moment to happen. Remember the benefits of it and the importance of creating good health of mind and body.
2. Start small - Start with just a few minutes and work your way up to more. As with most things we want to build on success so decide an amount of time you can be successful at being silent and go from there.
3. Turn off Screens - Screens are major distractions for us. Turn off the screens around you and place your phone in a different room. This eliminates the urge to check any vibration or notification that may come. Remember phones are training your brain, so instead let silence do that and forget about what else is going on except this present moment.
4. Go outside - Nature is a perfect place to be for silence. We can clear our minds by connecting to the creation around us. Find your place where its quiet, serene, and connects with you. Truly listen to nature and what speaks to your soul.
5. Focus on your breathe - Silencing our mind can be difficult. Focusing on your breathe brings you back to the moment and yourself. Use deep breathing as a means for structure in your silence.
Wherever you find yourself during the day, take a few moments of silence for yourself to relax, renew, and reconnect with the divine.
Thank you to everyone who is still following along and figuring out what spiritual practice works for you.
This week find a time to bask in silence and see what you experience.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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