Something that’s been conspicuously missing in our society today is silence. Every moment of our day is infiltrated by sounds, whether we like it or not. On a recent trip to New York, I found it startling how many people go about their day with earbuds in place and not for the noise cancelling purpose.
What’s so bad about allowing silence? Writing this article took place around midnight on Wednesday. My husband and two dogs were fast asleep. I sat listening for silence. The only audible noise was the dryer finishing up the last bit of laundry. Despite that, I felt the presence of silence. It felt calming and peaceful.
Research for this article lead me to some very interesting insights on the benefits of silence. Rebecca Beris shed a light on the topic with her article in Conscious Life News that in 2013, researchers from the Brain, Structure, and Functional Journal conducted a study on mice to monitor their response to sound and silence. Silence was intended to be the control in the study, but it turned out otherwise. The article noted that scientists discovered that when mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day, they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning. Beris states, “This doesn’t necessarily translate to tangible health benefits; however, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. In short, silence can quite literally grow your brain.”
We’ve all reached a point where we want to scream SILENCE! It normally occurs after a stressful day when we’ve run out of time, patience and gas, and everyone around us requires our full attention. Is it possible that it takes both knowledge and silence to effectively enhance our brain’s potential?
This evidence confirms that meditation should be a regular part of our daily lives. Consider it a coffee break for your brain, minus the coffee. The mice in the study were given two hours of silence per day which might seem a little unrealistic in our busy lives. I’m challenging you to start out with 15 minutes of meditation in the morning and eventually adding 15 minutes at the end of the day. Once you acclimate yourself to short bouts of silence, keep increasing the minutes.
I know from experience that I whole-heartedly set a schedule to meditate 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night with excellent intentions; however, without warning, my day will begin to run me and the meditation minutes get cut from my silence budget. It’s time to start strengthening your mental muscle to prioritize meditation as a personal and spiritual requirement.
Hey, what do you have to lose, functioning neurons, maybe? Remember, silence is golden!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune Sunday, February5, 201