green slope in forest on mist day

The Importance of Silence

All of men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone

Blaise pascall

Many of us will do just about anything to avoid a state of boredom. Alone in an empty room staring into the ceiling and doing nothing but examining our thoughts seems horrendous. Faced with this situation we quickly turn to our mobile phones scrolling aimlessly, browse the internet or watch television. Any distraction will suffice to avoid boredom.

We pride ourselves on outward achievement, and on constantly having something to do. Being busy has become a status symbol in our culture. It demonstrates to others that you are important and have achieved some level of success.

However, not all cultures think of this issue with the same perspective. Eastern philosophies emphasize the importance of introspection and stillness. The practice of meditation asks us to sit alone with the contents of our mind and thoroughly examine them. Are we acting on our impulses? Are we processing our emotions? Are we thinking through our actions and goals?

The answer is not retreating from society in a Buddhist monastery, but rather incorporating the practice of stillness in our day to day lives. To be frank, not everything is as urgent as we think. We don’t have to respond to many of our text messages or social media notifications immediately. Things can wait.

Modern day society constantly fills our minds with information 24/7, and it is unsustainable to think we can consume all of it. So today, spend some time with nothing but your you and your mind, in stillness.

 People today do not know how to rest. They fill their free time with countless diversions. People cannot tolerate even a few minutes of unoccupied time.

They have to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, reading anything at all, even the advertisements. They constantly need something to look at, listen to, or talk about, all to keep the emptiness inside from rearing its terrifying head. 

Thich Nhat Hanh

This article was adopted from an article posted on my personal blog A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life – In Search of Inner Freedom

15 thoughts on “The Importance of Silence

  1. This is really good. I have been contemplating about being comfortable in this silence of mine. Meditation is really good. I have started to love it and noticed that I am getting calmer and more aware of my thought processes. Besides, I am learning to slow down and be more patient. My mood is better too!

  2. Although I’ve very much a westerner, I do love silence and have time every day when I will sit in the stillness. I’ll contemplate whatever has caught my eye and go inward from there. It makes me feel more centered to do this.

  3. Silence has been a consistent theme today – I’ve taken this to be a very important message. Thank You!!

  4. Thank you for a lovely post.

    I experienced silence for five whole days in my friend’s apartment.

    I had traveled from the US to visit my nonagenarian mother in India. Though I am fully vaccinated against COVID and had tested negative, my son (a physician specializing in critical care and pulmonary diseases) who has seen his share of COVID patients, advised me to self-quarantine to protect my mother.

    I will always cherish this gift of silence. I immensely benefitted from those five days of no physical contact with the outside world. Apart from letting my family know that I was fine, I used my cell phone as little as possible. I read, wrote but mostly, used my time to reflect, enjoy the stillness, pray, rest, or just be in the present.

      1. The main lessons silence taught me:
        To be unhurried,
        Enjoy the “me time”,
        Most importantly, to be completely at peace.
        Best wishes.

  5. I sense that not many are prepared to face the basic hurdles of loneliness or call it staying still with our own mind and emotions. That’s because there is a lack of maturity in handling such quietness. Also, there is a fear which can be used as an escape card, for example, when there is a problem with the external world or people, I can escape from their presence or leave the place, but when it comes to inner battles of emotions, expectations, desires that’s when things become complex. Therefore, silence and solitude is a wonderful rehearsal for healthy ageing.

    1. Beautifully said, the one person you can never escape is yourself, so we all must learn how to become better acquainted with our inner lives.

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