For many of us, life is a constant series of sounds. Voices, buzzes, beeps, and hums make up the cacophony that is the background music to our daily existence.
When we have a chance to experience silence, we rarely take it. How many of us sit in our car without the accompaniment of music, podcasts, or the voice of Waze in the background? Many of us even find it difficult to go for a walk in silence. We prefer the company of a friend, or at the very list, earphones with audio entertainment.
But as the old saying goes, silence is golden. Although we may really believe this, we still have a hard time seeking out quiet. Our modern brains are so used to noise that without it, we feel like we’re dangling on the edge of an empty precipice with nothing to hold on to.
Even those of us who say we’d prefer some peace and quiet (hello, other parents of 6 kids?) don’t really know how to enjoy extended periods of noiselessness. We are uncomfortable with inaction. To many of us quiet seems, somehow, wrong.
But spending time in silence can increase your overall awareness and leads to greater creativity. Quiet boosts your sense of calm and makes you more patient. And although moments spent in silence may feel wasted, they actually make you a more productive person overall.
So how do we let go of the constant concert of noise we have become so accustomed to? I know that all the self-help books tout spending time in meditation (a commendable practice). But perhaps for some of us, just taking hold of a few moments of meditation would dust off our mindfulness skills. Instead of picking up your phone to fill a few spare minutes, you can step outside and absorb your surroundings. The wind, plants, and birds will take your mind to a place where you stop and notice the stillness within…even just for a minute or two.
You can probably already guess where I’ve found my path to silence. Hiking long trails, even with a companion, means many moments spent in relative quiet. After all, you can only talk to one other person for so long. Spend hours in nature, and your return to a place of silent reflection is inevitable.
On a long hike, you’ll eventually stop for a break. Then, over coffee on a quiet hilltop covered in moss and wildflowers, you may feel the wind on your face, close your eyes, and relish the silence as it washes over you, restoring your inner peace.