Sound of silence

A spoken word can cut through the air like a cold shiver on a winter night. Words can mean so much in life, but sometimes can offer too little, when all you need in the moment can be silence. Why is it that we have to fill our lives with constant motion? Whether it’s television, our phones or even random scenarios that entertain us. Is it that hard as human beings to just enjoy silence?

Have you ever been in a crowd during a moment of silence? I mean a true moment of silence that gets to the point of awkwardness. You stand for minutes on hand, whether it’s in remembrance of a loved one or a just cause. For the first minute, you sit there and reflect. Maybe you take the time and think about the situation and who was lost or what has happened. Then time starts to set in. You now hit minute two and you find it hard to continue to concentrate on what your original thought was. Your mind starts to deflect to other things. What do I want for lunch? What does this person have on next to me? How much time has gone by? Is it 2, 3, 4 minutes in already? We are doing this for 5 minutes right? 

Maybe you need another example. This happens quite often. You are deep in a conversation with someone that both of you have mutual interest in. As the person you are talking with talks passionately about the topic, you start to now think about what you want to say next. As you think about your next statement that you want to make, you stop listening to what the other person is actually saying to you. You now are filling your mind with extra thoughts to fill the void of silence that you should have when listening to someone. You are now officially not listening to the person, you are thinking about how to respond to a situation.

Why is silence so hard for us? Did our ancestors not sit and think for hours on end about how to get their next meal or where to lay their head? Were they not content with nothingness around them? Did they have to fill the void constantly to make life have purpose? 

Minus the fact that some significant others find that there is a silent treatment that is of value in their lives, silence has many benefits when for the right reason. 

Silence has actually been found to be beneficial to brain growth. It helps relax your body. It also increases creativity in your mind as you naturally are thinking through situations in your head. Some of the greatest minds in our lifetime have spent great amounts of time alone, including Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.

Do not speak – unless it improves on silence.

Gautama Buddha

In many religions silence is used as a form of contemplation, liberation or even a feeling of getting closer to god. Buddha Gautama practiced a form of silence called noble silence. If a person would ask a question (especially if it were one of the fourteen unanswerable questions) he would choose to remain in silence as opposed to offering an answer. This goes along with the fact that he felt if breaking silence with an answer that didn’t give actual knowledge, it wasn’t worth the time.

Think about that for a minute. If we all decided to speak only when it would be of significance, what would happen? Does everyone remember as a kid when your mother would tell you, “don’t speak unless you have something nice to say?” This might come as a more simplified version to this thought, but still very relevant. Maybe it’s not as much to if you don’t have anything nice to say, but more towards if you can offer no value to a conversation.

More often than not, we praise people for saying something. Have you ever been in a meeting and you are forced to talk? Even if you don’t have any value to add to the conversation? There have been many times in meetings where I find others speaking, just to speak. If you are just reiterating ideas that have already been shared, is it really necessary to break silence? Should we really praise people for just speaking as opposed to those that might only speak once, but it has a profound affect on the conversation?

When you find yourself alone in the future, take it as a reward. Use it to your advantage. Enjoy the silence and let your mind wonder free. You’d be surprised at how much you will get out of the situation when you’re not constantly looking for something to do. Your creativity will spark and you’ll gain new understanding of things that you might never have before.

Polish your mind to reflect the shimmering beauty of your words and actions.

Michael Bassey Johnson

Start today, take just five minutes away from the world. Sit and just practice silence. No phone, conversation or other form of distraction. Just simply you with your thoughts. I bet you’ll gain much more substance from the sound of silence than the constant sound of speech.

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I've lived several places in the United States. Born in Michigan, lived several years of my life in Florida and currently in California. I was enticed with travel from an early age. I've traveled around most states in the US and have ventured across Europe. As my love of travel continues, my passion grows deeper with learning about new cultures and what makes them unique. Travel with me as I gather my thoughts on travel and experience the world through my lens.

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