By TERRY SMALL
Silence is golden. This is especially true for your brain.
How often does your brain experience utter silence? It seems everywhere we go, there is noise, noise, and more noise. Peace and quiet? Not so much.
Science says silence is good for your brain. It’s important to seek it out.
Ester Schaler Buchholz, author of The Call of Solitude: Alonetime in a World of Attachment, rightly observed, “Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.”
Indeed. Too much noise, all the time, is not good for your brain.
Consider this: Research from the World Health Organization and European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has linked noise pollution to increased stress, heart disease, sleep loss, high blood pressure, decreased motivation, increased error-making, and lower performance at work and school.
Your cognitive functions most affected by noise are: memory, problem solving, creativity, and reading focus.
Shhh… Benefits of silence
Silence is more important to your brain than you might think.
If you can carve out some quiet time in your day, you get these benefits:
- The growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus – the part of your brain that is associated with memory (according to an ”accidental” discovery by Imke Kirste, a regenerative biologist at Duke University).
- Some much needed rest for your brain. A release from focused attention gives your brain a chance to recalibrate and self-reflect. Instead of listening to what’s going on around you, you get to listen to what’s going on inside your head. You might even discover a pattern, or two.
- A good work out for your memory. When there is complete silence, your brain’s cortex remains active and dynamic. It works at sorting, recalling, organising, evaluating, predicting, and imagining (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2013).
- A break from noise gives your brain a chance to relax, dial down the stress, do its job, and gives you a chance to immerse yourself into your surroundings.
Quotable quotes for your brain
Here are a couple of great quotes to keep in mind.
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata (poem)
“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
If you can, be intentional about finding silence in your day. Maybe you could find a peaceful place in your neighbourhood and go for a walk.
Make it a daily habit. Your brain might just thank you with your next great idea!