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The Importance of Silence, Stillness, and Solitude

Quieting the noise of our digital world brings us back to our real one.

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Courtesy of Curate Labs & Magazine / Unsplash
Courtesy of Curate Labs & Magazine / Unsplash

Written by Susan Reynolds, Co-Founder of LookUp

What would it be like to stop what you’re doing? Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice your heart rate. Go ahead and try it: you will become aware of your inner thoughts, feelings, and senses.

Continue to be still and come back to your feet touching the earth. What about your heart rate? Has it slowed down? Have your thoughts changed in these moments of reprieve from external stimulation, whether from another person, book, or digital device? When was the last time you were in stillness, silence and solitude?

What is solitude deprivation?

In his bestselling book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, Cal Newport talks about the dangers of solitude deprivation, which he defines as “a state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.” The ubiquitous nature of our phones and their availability 24/7 hinders many from taking the time to pause, reflect, and hear their own thoughts.

Many think solitude means retreating by yourself to a remote cabin in the woods, but you can be in solitude in a coffee shop with noise, activity, and people around you as long as you are focused inward. A lack of solitude isn’t due to simply being in the presence of other people; it’s about the consistent the stimulation of information, other people’s ideas, and dings from your digital devices.

From 24/7 connectivity…

Gen Z, the cohort of those born after 1995, is said to be the first generation who grew up with the ubiquitous nature of smartphone usage. In addition, teenagers today spend up to 9 hours a day consuming media, according to a recent Common Sense Media study. Humans are information foragers with a biological craving for new data, sensory input, and information. The portability of a mobile phone has made it very difficult to find time for not only solitude but stillness and silence.

Solitude helps one clarify difficult problems, slow down reaction time, and moderate emotions and feelings. Closing the eyes and feeling the ground, creates a connection to the biological body as opposed to the digitally stimulated mind. It helps regulate an overstimulated nervous system.

…to tech/life balance

The next time you feel out of balance with a little too much stimulation from your digital world, take a break. Drop into stillness, silence, and solitude, even for a moment or two, to come back into tech/life balance.

Originally published on LookUp.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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