Some people say that music is the silence between the notes. That's a far-reaching statement, and it's one we can use to hack into a deep and powerful idea: It's in silence that we find energy and peace.
We've all become accustomed to using words to blow off steam and leak energy. We fill the air with small talk and find silence uncomfortable. We complain about not having energy to follow through with our personal goals, yet there’s an enormous amount of it that we squander with words.
Over the years, I've worked an occasional vow of silence into my spiritual practice and found profound value in the stillness it creates. I'll often set aside a Sunday — the cultural day of rest — for my silence practice, so it doesn't interfere with my work and relationships (I just have to make sure to tell the important people in my life what I'm doing!).
Consider starting a silence practice of your own, even if you can't make it through an entire day. Here are five benefits of going a day (or just a couple of hours) without speaking:
1. It builds discipline.
Keeping your mouth shut is hard, and that’s a good enough reason to do it. It’ll help you strengthen your will and allow you to prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes to take on challenges. The ritual of performing this practice becomes an anchor for personal power and motivation. A silence practice can be yours to build on and master over time.
2. It leaves time for introspection.
Once we're unable to comfortably communicate as we’re accustomed to, we’re given a chance to withdraw and keep to ourselves for a bit. In the bustle of today’s world, we never take enough time for ourselves to set a course and evaluate what we’re doing or where we’re going. Is it any wonder we feel lost sometimes? During your silence exercise, consider questions like, “Am I happy with my life’s direction and where I invest my energy daily?” and, “What can I stop doing in order to make room for the things most important to me?”
3. It makes you more mindful of your breath.
In Taoism, we’re taught to cultivate our Qi energy by circulating our breath to vital centers in the body. Over the years, I've heard many of my students complain about how hard it is to remain conscious of the breath. I always tell them it's way easier to do when you’re not talking. You can use the silence to hone your breathing technique and become more aware of where you're sending each and every inhale.
4. It allows you to gather your energy.
We spend a lot of energy talking all day long. The act of pulling this all back and saving it literally feels like catching a breath. Use the Qi energy you harnessed through conscious breathing to bring some balance to the constant outflow. Use your newfound energy to clean up something that’s been bothering you — maybe revisit your journal or get back into stretching.
5. It teaches you to mean what you say.
Once we use words to drown silence, they become meaningless. Saying what we mean and doing what we say are actions a lot of us have trouble with. But our words take on power when they carry depth and integrity. As you grow to find comfort and peace in a silence practice, you'll no longer need to fill space with words hastily. Over time, you'll learn to intentionally measure your words — you'll become better at carrying conversations with articulate clarity. When your words have power, you have power.
There are many reasons to use a day of silence to ask yourself what you need to come into balance and further your personal care. It will allow you to breathe some life back into your dreams and aspirations. It’ll help you tap into your personal power as you align your thoughts, words, and deeds.
For more tips about how to find clarity in your life, check out my new book, The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks To Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace, available for preorder now.
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