Silence: The Forgotten Gift
Article By: Gift Nwagu
Three days ago I asked myself to describe the world I live in with one word. Many words popped up but the one that screamed its name above all others was: busy. Our world is busy and fast-paced. Traffic is on every corner, Salesmen are on every street, neon lights stream from stores right from dusk till dawn. Many major cities are growing and developing likening themselves to tourist cites such as New York City’s time square and Tokyo, Japan.
Needless to say that with all this growth and development we are always surrounded by one form of noise or the other. Even at those moments of potential silence in our homes, we still choose to have sounds around us in the form of TV series and movies, Spotify music and podcasts and even audiobooks. The contemporary youth of today barely knows a time without one form of noise or the others and I know this as a fact because I performed an experiment on myself.
I decided to switch off my laptop, phone and all other potential sources of noise for 20 minutes. Not hard right? Wrong. At the 5 minute mark, I already found the whole experience to be just plain weird. At the 10 minute mark, I felt mild discomfort. At the 15 minute mark, I felt sort of peaceful. At the 20 minute mark, I felt both relieved and disheartened. I felt uncomfortable because the silence was not something I was accustomed to but I came to love the peace that came along with it.
I wanted to know what else silence could do so I did some research. Here are three things that research suggests silence could to for the average human being.
Firstly, it is known to be one of the top initiators of creativity/innovation. With nothing to distract your brain like television. The only thing you’re left to is your mind. During bouts of silence, the brain goes haywire, sprouting random thoughts, one of which could grow into something remarkable. Several physicists, such as Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton, got their great ideas in moments of solitude.
Silence is not only one of the best creative tools, but it also aids memory retention. Silence is tied directly to biological processes and developments. A study conducted by the University of Duke biologist, Imke Kirste, discovered that experiencing 2 hours of sleep causes cell growth in the hippocampus, a region of the brain famous for the storage of memories.
Silence also aids our mental health. I’m sure all of us have heard of the term, ‘meditation’, at least once or twice. People who meditate once a day deliver testimonies all the time of what that brief moment of silence and solitude does for their states of mind. Testimonies of meditators include reduced levels of anxiety, worry, impulsivity, and improvements in emotional intelligence and empathy. There are several benefits this act of silence provides all backed up by research provided in an article by the Live and Dare Blog.
Realizing that the new generations may not be able to reap all the benefits, sleep poses to the general public was very devastating to hear. The newer generations may have to forgo all the rich physical, mental and emotional benefits of silence. I don’t want to live in that reality and I am very sure you don’t want to as well so let’s begin to make an effort to slow down a bit and incorporate quiet times into our daily regimens one person at a time.