Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons had that right. Silence CAN be golden which I learned in a recent silent meditation retreat.
Mr. Valli is singing about not being the one to tell a girl her boyfriend has cheated on her, he believes his silence will relieve her of the pain from a broken heart. But in this retreat there was no holding back the truth. We were practicing listening to our hearts and hearing what they had to say about the silence.
And mine had a lot to say.
I experienced the joy of saying nothing by leaving the words at the door. This allowed me to concentrate on what my mind and body had to say while practicing yoga, meditating, and even while eating. Slowly I adjusted to processing without speaking, to listening more intently, to smelling, feeling, and even tasting with more intention. It was joyful to turn on ALL of my senses which I tend to close down because I am trying so hard to say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
In the silence I was able to explore hearing my own mind without the interference of others and the judgments that can accompany them. I listened to my body when it told me not to go deeper into that yoga pose. I listened to my heart when it told me to let go of the anger I felt about something inappropriate that happened during the retreat. I listened to me, myself and I, when she said she loved me and thanked me for taking such good care of her.
Science even tells us silence is golden. Dr. Paul Haider writes in a recent article in OMTimes Magazine:
• Silence lowers blood pressure and allows you to deal with life’s challenges in a better way.
• Silence is like recharging your phone… your mind needs to recharge too… and it does more recharging in silence than it does during sleep.
• Sometimes you have more chatter going on inside your head than you have noise outside. Close the door… take a few deep breaths… and sit somewhere for a while and just watch the chatter slow down.
• Silence boosts your immune system… making it easier for your body to fight off invading bacteria and other pathogens.
• Silence makes you happy, spending time in silence boosts your brain chemistry… and as a great side effect you’re able to focus better too
• Silence makes you look and feel younger and at the same time have a lot more energy.
• Silence reduces stress (lowers blood cortisol levels and adrenaline levels) which is the biggest killer in the world… adding 30 minutes of silence a day can change your life.
• Silence allows for good hormone regulation and interaction of all the hormone related systems in your body.
• Silence keeps plaques from forming in arteries… helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes
• Silence reduces pain, and also helps your brain to become more interactive, so you work with more of your brain… leading to higher cognitive abilities.
It was only six hours, but I left the retreat feeling energized and ready to listen more and speak less. My eyes can now see that silence truly is golden.
Find out more about silence from Dr. Haider at Benefits of Silence
To read more about my experiences with silent retreats go to Hear the Silence