All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.
“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu – While some people dislike a silent environment, equating it with being alone and lonely, others look forward to spending time with just their thoughts, seeking silence with eagerness, as if anticipating a gift. Indeed, silence offers profound benefits, many of which we aren’t even aware of.
Silence is good for overall physical health and well-being
Besides giving our ears a break, silence has been shown to offer significant health advantages that boost overall well-being. From a physiological standpoint, silence helps:
- Lower blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attack.
- Boost the body’s immune system.
- Benefit brain chemistry by growing new cells. A 2013 study found that two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region, a brain area linked to learning, remembering, and emotions.
- Decrease stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline. Furthermore, according to a 2006 study in Heart, two minutes of silence relieves tension in the body and brain and is more relaxing than listening to music. This was attributed to changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
- Promote good hormone regulation and the interaction of bodily hormone-relate systems.
- Prevent plaque formation in arteries.
- Lending credence to these observations, science now recognizes the harmful effects of noise pollution on human health and cognition.
I was at a shopping mall the other day and observed a group of eight teenage friends – boys and girls. They were walking together, each focused on their mobile devices. Most appeared to be texting other people. A few were speaking on their phones. None of them were speaking to each other.
As I watched with interest in this new phenomenon that allows us to engage in multiple modes of connectivity at once, I chuckled to myself when one of the boys fell into a girl as he tripped getting off the escalator. The mishap occurred because he was texting while walking, sometimes as hazardous as texting while driving! The teens laughed too, and then quickly returned to their respective conversations on mobile devices.
It’s mind boggling to imagine how many conversations were happening while those eight teens walked through the shopping center. But what’s more important is to ask the question, “When do young people find time to be in silence, to reflect on who they are in a world with constant chatter?”
Why Silence is Golden
The reason we should ask the question, and encourage teens to explore silent spaces, is because we know that self-reflection is important to human development and learning. John Dewey, a renowned psychologist and education reformer, claimed that experiences alone were not enough. What is critical is an ability to perceive and then weave meaning from the threads of our experiences.
The function of self-reflection is to make meaning. The creation of meaning is at the heart of what it means to be human.
Adolescence is a time when young people discover their unique identities. They need moments of silence to reflect on their experiences – to discover who they are as individuals, what kind of relationships they desire, and what they value and believe about life. Tuning out the noisy world helps young people develop the ability to reflect and grow.
Five Ways to Foster Self-Reflection in Teens
The act of sharing our experiences with others is the first part of developing reflective practices that lead to greater awareness and learning. When adults invite teens to share thoughts and feelings, they affirm the value of a young person’s experiences, help them see things through other eyes, and support the process of reflection. Taken from Dewey’s work on learning, here are five ways to encourage a teen’s ability to make meaning from their experiences:
Rather than talking only about the surface of experiences, invite conversations that ask teens to go deeper. How did that experience make you feel? What were you feeling in your body? Anxiety? Fear? Exhilaration? What does that say to you?
Explore a teen’s attitudes that resulted from a particular experience. Dewey recognized the tendency in all human beings to see what we wish was true rather than to accept evidence of what really is. When adults challenge young people’s assumptions, it encourages them to think more deeply about their choices.
Honor the validity of young people’s thoughts and feelings rather than judging them. Adults should accept ideas with open-mindedness; a term Dewey says is not blind acceptance of another person’s way of experiencing the world but a willingness to listen to different perspectives. When we accept and listen to a young person’s feelings, it gives them permission to explore meaning in greater depth.
Talk about self-responsibility. What are the real-life implications of my thinking and feeling? Dewey examined the link between how we think, feel, and act. Being responsible implies that we are acting on meaning that is fully our own, not someone else’s.
When we engage young people in conversations that encompass the above suggestions, young people become curious and desire growth. They are ready for self-reflection. When this occurs, they will likely find their own ways and times for silence and introspection. They will ignore the noise of text messages, cell phones, and nonstop activity. They will appreciate the importance of silence and the golden beauty of the learning that emerges from within.
Here is 15 empowering quotes on silence to bring powerful clarity and insights to your life.
1. “Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch
Silence has enormous power. It can help you bring an argument to a halt or deepen the connection when you are sharing a wonderful moment with your loved ones.
2. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
What hurts is not when our enemies criticize us, but when we seek support from those we trust and are left alone instead.
3. “Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.” – Josh Billings
Silence is one of the best ways to get your point across. It shows that you can stand your ground after you have made your point.
4. “True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit. What sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn
The mind can take us on a roller-coaster ride. One moment it makes us worry about what happened ten years ago, the next moment it makes us sad about the past. Learn to quiet your mind so that you can harness the power of your spirit.
5. “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” – Elbert Hubbard
Only those that truly know you can understand your silence, not just your words.
6. “Work hard in silence, let your success make the noise.” – Frank Ocean
It’s important to remain humble. Don’t go on announcing every small win, let your success make the noise for you.
7. “Through the portals of silence, the healing sun of wisdom and peace will shine upon you.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
It’s only when you are silent that you can perceive the higher wisdom, higher energy. This is why people are silent when they pray to God. You have to get away from the noise to hear your intuition.
8. “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa
Nature works in silence. Yet, the flow of the wind, the beautiful sky, trees, and flowers convey the most beautiful story without words when we just look at them.
9. “Sticks and stones are hard on bones aimed with angry art. Words can sting like anything but silence breaks the heart.” – Phyllis Mcginley
Harsh words can hurt us, but what hurts us even more is silence of our loved ones, which weakens our trust in them and eventually, in ourselves.
10. “Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being.” – Deepak Chopra
You have to still your mind to bring your inner gifts, your creativity, and wisdom to life.
11. “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” – Abraham Lincoln
Learn to speak up when people step on your boundaries. If you aren’t assertive, people will take advantage of you and you will never get what you want.
12. “I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent.” – Publilius Syrus
A harshly spoken word is un-eraseable. Often silence is the best option.
13. “Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than the silence.” – Spanish Proverb
It’s not healthy to talk without reason. Speak when you can bring peace, wisdom, or love to the people in front of you.
14. “Silence is foolish if we are wise, but wise if we are foolish.” – Charles Caleb Colton
If we are wise, we know what to do or say, and therefore, to remain silent is foolish. But if we don’t know what to do or say, then we must remain silent until we get the answers.
15. “Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Words come out of the void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.” – Wayne Dyer
From dusk comes the dawn. From darkness, the light defines itself. Similarly, from silence comes our creativity. Every creation, big or small, that you see in the world came from silence.
Suggestions for entertaining silence
At a loss for effortless ways to get in the practice of entertaining silence? It isn’t as difficult as you might think, and anyone can begin to cultivate silence to help benefit overall health and well-being.
Try these suggestions:
- Invite a friend for a walk outside in nature. Then, make sure to walk at least part of the way in mutual silence. You can also walk solo to get more in tune with nature and allow your mind to take a quiet time-out.
- Remain in bed an extra 5 minutes before getting up for the day. Use this time to slowly awaken to the world, basking in the silence of the sleeping quarters, letting your thoughts wash over you. Say a silent prayer of gratitude for all that you have and ask for blessings for the day ahead.
- Engage in deep breathing exercises. This helps calm your mind and quiet it at the same time.
- Meditate. This practice can be whatever you want it to be, from simple to more intricate. Teach yourself or join a class, whatever works for you to get in the habit of silently witnessing your thoughts.