Ever since I went to a Vipassana Buddhist Meditation course when I was 22, ( nearly 40 years ago!! ) where we meditated 8 hours a day and stayed silence for 10 days, I have been fascinated by silence. Although the whole experience was gruelling physically and emotionally what my friend I remember distinctly was having sore jaws one hour in, after talking again on the 10th day! Also my mind was so clear and calm the feeling has never left me. I have found myself craving that feeling again and have followed many pathways to silence whether its taking days or weekends by myself in uninterrupted silence or organised gatherings in quiet places like Ashrams or courses I have always sought it out!
Apparently one of the quietest place on earth is a room in Minneapolis an anechoic chamber in the Orfield Laboratories where the silence is so profound people have only lasted 45 minutes and have reported they can hear their heartbeat! Monasteries on remote Scottish Islands and in India or different parts of the world also attract those that seek out quiet and silence.
There is scientific evidence that regular periods of silence have some surprising physical and mental-emotional health benefits such as boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and relieving stress. A 2013 study showed two hours of silence could help grow new cells in our hippocampus- part of the brain responsible for learning, emotions and memory. Without regular periods of silence we can feel overwhelmed and agitated.
I have introduced silence in our Afternoon retreats here at The Karma Studio for the 4 hours people are here which allows them to dip their toes in and is often a very new experience for some…. This at least introduces you to a short break from our world full of interruptions, notifications and traffic but the most powerful source of silence is that which we find within after reconnecting with your essential nature. Since my studies of iRest Yoga Nidra meditation I have become of aware of the most effective and sustainable forms of inner silence is to welcome all messengers and sensations in the body which effectively allow you to drop into moments of inner freedom from thoughts, emotions and beliefs by staying in the body and feeling. You cannot feel in the body and think at the same time!