Sitting in silence is a method used to quiet the mind and become present. To do it, you simply sit and don’t talk or do anything.
In today’s noisy and distracting world, it can be challenging for a beginner. Often, people don’t realize they’re being influenced by their conditioning and what’s going on around them, especially by the constant chatter of their minds.
So, what does sitting in silence look like on a practical level? We’ll explore that next.
What Does Sitting in Silence Look Like?
As stated above, sitting in silence is a simple concept. You find a quiet place to sit comfortably and don’t talk or do anything.
It sounds easy. But, it’s quite tricky for most people, simply because the mind refuses to be quiet. In the silence, it practically shouts to be heard.
Thoughts will race through your mind, competing for your attention. They’ll remind you to pick up the kids after school, finish the laundry, find a gift for your spouse’s birthday, and how much you didn’t like the lady at the checkout yesterday.
From the outside, you may look like someone peacefully sitting in the garden, eyes closed, enjoying the quiet afternoon. While on the inside, your mind is forcefully urging you to get up and finish the weeding.
So, the problem becomes how to still the mind and enjoy the benefits of sitting in stillness. It won’t do to try and suppress your thoughts or make them go away. That approach can make it work even harder to get your attention.
And, don’t start thinking of your mind or thoughts as an enemy. They serve their purpose and are a useful tool when we need them at appropriate times. It’s important to stay away from judgment and self-criticism.
Next, we’ll take a look at an especially powerful distraction that’s relevant to today’s culture – technology.
Sitting in Silence and Technology
Along with the flood of thoughts, the pull of our smartphones and other technology is powerful in keeping us from embracing silence.
If you feel you can’t go a few minutes without checking your phone or other devices, place it (or them) in another room so it’s less accessible.
The distraction of technology is very real and many people cannot resist the urge to check their notifications every few minutes (or even more often).
If you find you’re particularly dependent on your devices, you might find the practice of sitting without them frustrating at first. But over time, the practice may help you to find a balance.
So, when you start with the practice of sitting in silence, it’s a good idea to have a technique for keeping your attention off the racing thoughts and urge to reach for your phone.
The simple solution of focusing on your breathing can be good support for getting yourself centered.
Focus on the Breath to Still the Mind
Focusing on your breathing is an excellent and easy way to still the mental chatter that goes on in the mind as soon as you try to be still.
While you’re sitting quietly, notice your breath as it flows naturally in and out. You don’t have to change it, just notice the rhythm as it comes into your lungs and exhales back out.
You may find it more comfortable in the beginning to close your eyes. But you don’t have to. It’s entirely up to you to decide what your preference is.
What you’ll find is that while your attention is on your breathing, you don’t pay attention to the random thoughts floating around in your mind.
However, at first, you’ll wander back to your thinking after only a few seconds. Don’t give up. You didn’t fail. Just acknowledge any thoughts that pop up, without judging, and bring your attention back to your breath.
If you keep doing that, the time you spend without thought will increase considerably. Over time, it will become much easier to sit in stillness for long periods, with internal silence.
A breathing exercise is an excellent way to still the mind and take a mental break in any situation. It’s very portable, and you can use it in all kinds of daily situations, not just for sitting in silence.
But, what does sitting in silence do for you? Are there benefits? We’ll look at that aspect next.
Is Sitting in Silence Good for You?
Sitting in silence provides many of the same benefits as a formal meditation practice. Physically, they include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Boosts immunity
- Brain cell growth
- Decreases stress
- Regulates hormones
- Improves blood circulation
These are encouraging reasons to increase your practice of seeking silence regularly. In the areas of psychology and emotions, the benefits include:
- Increased creativity
- More self-awareness
- Increased awareness of the environment
- More interest in self-improvement and relationship mending
- Better sleep experience and less insomnia
These benefits are just as impressive as the physical improvements, and they provide ample reasons for cultivating silence in your daily schedule.
So, let’s look at ways you can add the benefits of sitting in silence to your daily routines.
How to Add Silence to Your Daily Schedule
In the beginning, it’s a good idea to practice sitting in silence on your own in a quiet place, without obvious disruptions. It allows you to develop the practice and strengthen your ability to turn off the mental noise and external distractions.
However, as you master the ability to become silent internally, you can take this method to any situation that suits your preferences.
You can add a few moments of mental vacation during your lunch break on a park bench. Or, you can sit in your office alone for your coffee break. If you carpool and must wait for people, use the time to sit quietly and still your mind.
There are many ways and places to add stillness into a busy day. Use it as often as you can to stay focused in the present moment and renew yourself.
Sitting in silence is a useful practice to keep yourself grounded and centered in the rush of daily life when your mind and other distractions clamor for your attention.