While we surround ourselves with work and other activities, what is equally important in our daily schedule, is to define an artificial space where we are able to reflect in silence without the disturbance of outer noise. A space where we can truly ‘listen’ to silence and experience inner stillness.
Researchers have used silence as a control and in their experiments over time, have tested the effects of silence and sound, These observations have shown how silence can have a marked tangible outcome.
In a 2006 study, physician Luciano Bernardi experimented with two dozen test subjects, who were made to listen to six musical clips and he usedsilence as a control in-between the music clips. The trials revealed that a two-minute silent pause between music, proved more relaxing on the brain than listening to the music itself. He also found that there was an improvement in the blood pressure and blood circulation of the subjects.
This study proved that the effect of silence was intensified by contrasting it with sound. Even though listening to music requires attention, what is intriguing is the key findings-the pause between the music, which also had an effect but an opposite one!
Another study in 2013 was conducted by Duke University’s regenerative biologist Imke Kirste. In this test a group of mice were exposed to a selection of sounds and like Luciano Bernardi, she used silence as a control. It was found that listening to silence for two hours every day caused the brains of the mice to grow new cells in the hippocampus. Hippocampus is the region of the brain that is associated essentially with memory, learning and emotional responses.It is believed that stress reduction and mindful meditation considerably expand the hippocampus.
Hence research suggests that silence lowers blood pressure and is beneficial in brain chemistry. And there is evidence that our brain grows new cells in the hippocampus. Further studies have established that silence significantly boosts overall well-being.
If we luxuriate in silence, as recent studies indicate, silence will not only help our nerves and our minds respond positively to the ecosystem, it will dramatically improve and facilitate our creativity and learning.
In spirituality silence often implies to inner stillness. The serenity of silence awakens our consciousness. Since our brain recognizes inactivity, whenever possible we should try and choose silence. And over time we will begin to acknowledge silence and appreciate how it reduces the adverse effects of noise which we experience daily. Hopefully the discipline of silence will direct us to recalibrate our lives.
The idea is to learn to practice stillness of mind and meet life’s challenges with equanimity. We can do this by advocating and cultivating quiet times for ourselves, as well as exercising the option to vocalize ‘Silence Please!’