December 18 2017
Below is more information about What Silence Teaches Us? from my article in the 2017 Fall Issue of Centered magazine.
And not surprisingly, science supports silence’s benefits. Although there are many studies touting the need for silence, there are two I appreciate that especially highlight its advantages. It’s also interesting that the neither of these studies set out to identify those benefits.
The first, a 2006 study by Luciano Bernardi, a physician and professor at the University of Pavia, Italy, is a selling point for all Type A personalities who might otherwise dismiss any thought of engaging in silence. Bernardi studied the physiological changes of subjects alertly and attentively listening to different musical tracks. However, he inadvertently discovered that the two minutes of silence inserted between the music tracks were more relaxing than the relaxing music, or even the silence at the beginning of the experiment. The benefits of the silence were enhanced by the contrasts of the music itself and the focus it required.
The second, a 2013 study by Imke Kirste, a Duke University regenerative biologist, examined the effects of different sounds on adult mice brains. She used auditory stimuli such as baby mouse calls, music and white noise. Silence was the control group of the study. Kirste found that none of the sounds had a lasting impact on the brain, but surprisingly the control group listening to silence showed cell development in the hippocampus region of the brain, the part having to do with emotion, learning and memory.
I invite you to befriend silence. Spend time in meditation, go for walks in the woods, establish quiet times in work and at home, and definitely unplug. As Henry David Thoreau said: “In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.”
(First printed in the 2017 Fall Issue of Centered Magazine)