Given how little time most of us actually spend in silence, it can be quite an alien experience. Instead, we devote huge amounts of time and energy to talking, communicating and expressing ourselves. Even if we’re not actually talking, we’re likely to surround ourselves by noise - other people chatting, the radio, music or television. But what happens when we cut all that noise out?
One of the biggest things most of us notice when we experience silence is that the voice of our own mind gets turned up a notch. This can be a positive thing as it can be easier to hear your own thoughts more clearly. If your mind is particularly agitated, however, your increased focus on the noise of your mind may be irritating. This is likely the reason why many people avoid silence altogether - they just don’t want to have to listen to those thoughts. (Learn more in Vritti: Calming the Waves of Your Mind.)
But, silence can be golden. What silence does is give you the space to better understand your inner voice. Without the distractions and external influences, you can tune into what it’s saying. Whether that’s a comfortable experience or not, you can learn to develop a healthier relationship with “the voice inside your head.” Like meditation, time spent in silence can give you the space to step back from your thoughts and notice them without reacting to them. You have a chance to disentangle yourself from the internal narrative you may not even have been aware was playing out in your mind. (Read more on Taking Silence Breaks Throughout Your Day.)
Many people, once they get used to it, come to enjoy silence. They experience increased feelings of peacefulness, spaciousness and a calmer, more relaxed existence. They may find that when they aren’t expending energy in talking and making noise, they have more to put into the tasks they are carrying out. Activities can become more absorbing and effortless. As with withdrawing any of our senses, it makes the others more highly attuned. In silence, you might experience the beauty of the world around you more fully, you may be able to taste your food more intensely, or enjoy the feeling of water on your skin as you take a hot shower more profoundly. (Learn about The Joys of Unplugging.)The experience of silence is an intimate one. The only way to work it out is to try it. Try not to be put off if it’s not immediately the rewarding, calming experience you’d hoped for. Allow yourself to cultivate patience as you journey through that stage. You may well find that the rewards are worth it.