As human beings, we need to have strong connections with others, but time alone in solitude is just as crucial. The benefits of solitude and silence are many and accessing them is easy. Keep reading for seven reasons to embrace silence and solitude.
Our fears of being alone are leftovers from another time. Our ancestors survived by leaning on and caring for each other and sharing knowledge and resources. They lived in smaller, tightly-knit groups without access to the luxuries (and pitfalls!) of technology. Their communication was face-to-face, without the constant distractions of intellectual and emotional stimuli.
In contrast, modern life can give us the illusion of being involved. We are constantly inundated with communication without true connection and a wealth of information without wisdom. We are simply not built to process this amount of information and socialization.
The dominant narrative of success and happiness is one of constant and unrelenting productivity, a wildly busy social life, and a never-ending list of accomplishments that keeps growing. Extroversion is celebrated and seen as the default personality mode. If you’re someone who prefers a bit of quiet and solitude, even the people who love you may see it as unhealthy introvert behavior.
But solitude and silence are incredibly healing for both extroverts and introverts. Think of your life in terms of cycles. Just like the earth, you need seasons of rest to fully bloom during seasons of abundance. It can’t be summer year-round!
Here are seven benefits of solitude and silence that help you heal, rest, and grow.
Above all, silence gives you a break. When you strip away the constant notifications on your phone, the drone of the television, the sound of crowds and traffic, and everything that comes with life, your mind is given space to breathe. Silence—although it can be unnerving at first—feels like a cleansing exhale. It allows your mind to truly rest, something it probably isn’t used to. That rest naturally helps reduce anxiety and stress levels while increasing inner peace.
When you sit with yourself in silence, your public masks and societal roles are stripped away, and you’re alone with your true self. You’re allowed to just be who you are and free to begin to recognize your true nature. You’re not obligated to be a parent, friend, or employee—when you are silent, you are simply and wholly yourself. You can begin to access deeper knowledge about yourself and become comfortable with who you are. Authentic mindfulness dawns.
Silence makes you more creative! It gives your mind the chance to process everything that has been taken in and time to cook a little. Humans are natural problem-solvers, artists, and scientists—all of which require a great deal of creativity. Creativity, in turn, requires a great deal of silence.
Silence for spiritual purposes not only gives you inner peace but it’s good for the soul. When you sink into silence, you begin to understand the interconnectedness of everything on earth. No matter your spiritual tradition, silence is spiritually powerful in that it allows you to both be a part of the world and connect with the more subtle forces at work in the universe.
Silence is also a gift of healing. It helps you work through trauma and disappointment. Things that need attention tend to rise up when you’re silent—sometimes things you didn’t even realize were issues—and silence gives you time to work through them and heal. Think of silence like a river. Once the first layers of mud are cleared away, the stones underneath become uncovered and can be washed away.
This one might seem counterintuitive, but silence and solitude actually increase empathy and the ability to connect with others on a meaningful level. Solitude can help you appreciate the people in your life more and can help you diagnose problems in relationships and recognize your behaviors and habits.
Silence is wonderful for your brain. Not only does it give your prefrontal cortex a break from processing stimuli, but in silence, you can tap into something called the default mode of your brain, where you let your mind take over and daydream, contemplate, and get lost in your thoughts. There’s evidence that this state helps to replenish brain cells, too.
To truly tap into that inner quiet place, be sure you’re not still immersed in your daily life—looking at your phone every few minutes, checking your email, working, texting, et cetera, as the benefits of silence are greatly reduced. Dedicate a set time in which you can excuse yourself from your daily responsibilities and focus fully on your development; as little as 10 minutes a day to be quiet and alone. It might be uncomfortable at first, but with time it
may will become your favorite part of the day for your body, mind, and soul.