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Ever notice how loud life is?
Noise pollution has continued to double every three decades. Ambulance sirens are now six times louder that they were 100 years ago. Why? Because our world is noisier than ever before.
And all this noise is causing more stress, according to University of Pennsylvania’s professor Mathias Basner. He notes that “the body will excrete stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that lead to changes in the composition of our blood—and our blood vessels, which actually have been shown to be stiffer after a single night of noise exposure.”
And there’s more. All this additional noise can increase your risk of hearing loss, depression, stroke, and even cardiovascular disease. Whoa.
Learn To Listen
The holidays are coming up… and you know what that means: listening to a lot of conversations with relatives—and possibly about topics that you don’t necessarily find compelling. And sometimes it’s all just too loud. Stressful. Exhausting.
I wonder how we could make this a more fun, energizing, and compassion-building experience?
Let’s listen to the silence between the sentences.
Ma, a Japanese term loosely translated as ‘pause’, helps us to stop and notice the space between words, sentences, musical notes, breaths, sounds, feelings.
When we pause we stop the world. When we stop the world we find inner peace, clarity, calm, grounding, we can listen deeply both internally and externally, and so much more.
Ohhhhhh. So that’s why it’s a great idea to meditate!!!
How Silence Benefits Your Brain
Silence—or the absence of noise—can benefit our brains in many ways. In the past I’ve referred to Harvard’s research on silence resulting in increased cell density in the prefrontal cortex (emotional regulation, decision making, problem solving and more) and the hippocampus (learning, memory and more), and reduced cell density in the amygdala (aggression, threat perception and more).
Duke University released research on the benefits of silence a few years ago. They placed mice in soundless booths for 2 hours daily. Then they tested the effect of five types of noise on the mice’s brains. After each noise they measured cell growth to see where the highest growth of neurons were. The hippocampus was the winner. Mice, like humans, live in fairly sound-dense environments. And like us, silence is a less common sound to them. Thus their brains responded with greater arousal and action.
Have you ever noticed that there’s actually a sound of silence? To me it sounds like snowing falling—a calm white noise of sorts. The Duke researchers noticed listening to silence cause a positive stress response, called eustress, which they believe is what stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
What To Do Now
Do you know how to listen to silence? If not, there are a bunch of techniques in my blog here. And if meditation isn’t your thing, simply listen to silence, as you walk, run, sit quietly. Then notice how your life improves. And your brain will too!