Having the Discipline to Stay Quiet is a Powerful Tool
Making the Most of Silence
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” — Rumi
Nowadays, everyone has an opinion, and — let’s face it — so many of us feel entitled to express them all the time. There should be more attention and respect given to silence.
I’m all for freedom of expression. I’m a libertarian on specific issues, but that doesn’t mean I always have to exercise those rights.
This is when silence comes in so handy; having the skills to hold your tongue or defer your opinions is something we should celebrate rather than ignore!
It’s our prerogative as free individuals to choose when and how we want to use our voice — or whether we want peace for a while.
And sometimes — though it may not be popular to admit it — staying silent can be more powerful than speaking out.
What is the Power of Silence?
Silence has a way of speaking for itself without words. It allows us time to process our thoughts and emotions before we act or respond. This can be helpful in times of stress, anger, confusion, or when we want to avoid saying something rash.
Instead of being quick-tempered, silence allows us to reflect on what we want to say.
Moreover, silence can also offer clarity; by taking a step back to observe and listen — instead of talking — you may gain greater insight into how someone else is feeling or perceiving a situation.
Withholding judgment or opinion until all sides have been heard (not only yours) means you are willing to try to understand what is happening.
Silence can also be a form of respect — particularly when someone else needs to talk, and you are willing to listen. This type of respectful listening can create trust and build relationships. It indicates that we are interested in expressing our opinions and open to hearing the other person’s point of view.
Silencing your inner critic can be much more beneficial than listening to it.
Many of us get so caught up in our thoughts and opinions that we forget how much energy we expend in expressing them. Often at the wrong times or places!
Being able to practice silence means being able to take a step back and assess situations before jumping into them. It allows us to think through different perspectives without getting swept away with emotions or biased outlooks. It gives us time to reflect on what has been said instead of responding off the cuff.
This kind of analytical thinking means that when you speak, you will consider many angles and be better prepared.
Besides, if you are feeling stressed or anxious about something, taking a break from talking can help ease those feelings.
Taking some quiet time away from conversations and social interactions allows you to ground yourself again. So that when you feel comfortable enough to jump back into life, you’ll feel more confident about expressing yourself.
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” — Will Rogers
How to Practice Mindful Silence in Everyday Life
My friends know this about me. I don’t answer the phone, and I rarely text back immediately. I decided not to carry my phone with me all the time in the last couple of years. This is one of the things I do to practice mindfulness and silence.
It doesn’t mean that to practice mindful silence, you need to drop your phone in the ocean (which would be great for some of us).
Here are a few quick tips on how to incorporate more mindful silence into your everyday life:
Make time for yourself every day. Whether it’s a few minutes or an hour, carve out when you can be alone and unplugged. Meditate, journal, read, or sit with your thoughts — whatever helps you find peace within yourself.
Avoid multitasking when possible. Multitasking takes away from being present in the moment. It robs us of the opportunity to be silent and listen.
Pay attention to your body and feelings. Make sure you take a few moments every day to check in with yourself, noting any physical sensations or emotions that come up as you go about your day.
Practice being present during conversations. Be mindful of how much time is spent talking versus listening when engaging in conversation with others — if it’s one-sided, try to shift the focus back to what the other person has been saying.
Take regular breaks from technology and social media. This can help reduce stress levels and allow you to be with yourself for a bit! When scrolling through your newsfeeds, try to be conscious about what you’re seeing and how it’s making you feel.
Take deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed or stressed — this will help calm your mind and body so that you can think more clearly without getting swept away in emotions.
Listen intently before responding — instead of immediately jumping into the conversation, take a few moments to listen and process what is being said before forming an opinion or response.
Take breaks from conversations — if you find yourself getting too caught up in discussions, step back to give yourself some space. This allows you to re-focus and think more clearly without being too invested in the conversation.
Reflect on what you say before speaking — take a few moments to consider your words before speaking out loud. This will help ensure that you are communicating effectively and not saying something that could be misinterpreted or hurtful.
Be present and attentive — when someone else is talking, pay attention to them instead of letting your mind wander off into its thoughts. This shows respect for their opinion and makes them feel heard.
These tips make practicing silence an easy regular habit in your everyday life that will benefit you and those around you.
Practicing mindful silence in everyday life isn’t as complex as it seems — all it takes is practice and self-control.
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” — Elbert Hubbard
Ancient Philosophies Used Silence to Gain Deep Insight and Increase Their Awareness and Understanding
One ancient philosophy that utilized silence as a tool for gaining insight and understanding was Taoism. The Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text by Lao Tzu, emphasizes the importance of listening to and practicing stillness to gain wisdom.
One can gain clarity and peace of mind by taking time away from the chaos of everyday life to be with oneself.
Buddhism utilizes silent meditation techniques to help people reach enlightenment and inner peace. Silence is a way to tap into their inner thoughts and feelings without being distracted by the world’s noise.
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus also advocated using silence to learn about oneself and deepen one’s understanding of the world. He believed that one should practice self-discipline, restraint, and reflection to gain insight into the nature of life. He argued that one could learn to understand their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions better by spending time in silence and solitude.
Finally, Indian philosophy utilized silence to gain a deeper understanding of the universe. The Upanishads, ancient Hindu texts containing spiritual teachings on life and death, emphasize the importance of being still to access higher levels of consciousness.
It is believed that one can explore new realms of thought and reach enlightenment by practicing silent meditation techniques such as yoga Nidra (deep relaxation) and pranayama (breathing exercises).
In conclusion, staying silent has its advantages — it allows us time for reflection, encourages thoughtful conversations, shows respect for others, and helps calm anxiety.
When everyone around you is clamoring for attention and voicing their opinions left, right center — take a step back and consider whether silence might be more potent than speech this time round — after all, sometimes not speaking up is exactly what needs doing!
So next time someone starts speaking up too loudly — maybe take a moment’s pause before joining in — see if there’s anything meaningful or valuable that comes out of silence first!
That little peace could go a long way toward creating a healthy environment where meaningful conversations can thrive! Who knows? You may even enjoy it too!