How to stay quiet all day


Staying silent helps give you a reason to speak, to analyze your situations and yourself, to be aware of how you are going to react. Silence enriches you. Will you allow it to enter your life?

The Wisdom of Silence: Learning to Talk Less and Say More

“Fear less, hope more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Hate less, love more; And all good things are yours.” ~ Swedish proverb

You know who I really appreciate? Those people who aren’t uncomfortable with silence. Those people with whom you can sit at a table and have a delicious meal and not feel uncomfortable when none of you has anything to say. I love people who can communicate with one another not just with words but also with silence.

I remember going out for dinner one night with two of my closest friends but also with this other person whom we just recently met. And while we were there, I noticed that this person couldn’t stop talking. I mean, she just couldn’t. She kept going on and on and on and I honestly thought my head was going to explode because of all the noise she was making. I just couldn’t believe that a human being could actually talk so much and breathe so little. 

I was amazed and irritated at the same time. She was talking so much and so loud but her words seemed so empty of meaning. She wasn’t really saying anything. You know that quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, that’s exactly how I felt. I could hear her speak but I couldn’t really understand a word she was saying. Not because she was speaking a foreign language but because she wasn’t really saying anything.

We do that. A lot of times we just talk and talk but without actually saying anything. Maybe it’s because we want to feel that we’re heard and that people acknowledge our presence and existence. But is that really the way to go about it? Wouldn’t it be wiser to talk less and say more while at the same time immersing ourselves in those moments of silence and allowing them to just be?

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato

It seems to me that a lot of times we talk just so we won’t keep quiet, thinking that silence is something to be ashamed about, something to be avoided. But it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with silence. I don’t know how we got this idea that silence is awkward and that it should be avoided at all costs. 

“It has been said that it’s the space between the bars that holds the tiger. And it’s the silence between the notes that makes the music. It is out of the silence, or “the gap,” or that space between our thoughts, that everything is created including our own bliss.” – Wayne Dyer

The Wisdom of Silence: Learning to Talk Less and Say More

Silence is a precious gift. In that space between our words, it’s where we find ourselves. When the mind is quiet, when there are no thoughts and no words to be said, we can hear our own heart talking to us. We can hear our own soul and our own intuition. 

Herman Melville has a really beautiful quote that explains exactly what I mean: 

“God’s one and only voice are Silence.” ~ Herman Melville

When we allow ourselves to be quiet, to breathe in and breathe out, without the need to force ourselves into saying another word or think another thought, that’s when we can hear our inner voice, our heart, and intuition. That’s when we can experience our own Divinity, our own beauty, and perfection.

I have learned more from being quiet and from embracing silence than I have learned from thinking and from talking. Silence is my greatest teacher, whispering things in my ear and helping me know things that I won’t be able to discover from anywhere else. 

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. ” ~ Francis Bacon

I honestly believe that the reason why so many of us are under so much stress is that we haven’t yet learned how to quiet our minds and embrace silence. We haven’t yet learned to appreciate and see the value and the wisdom that comes from being quiet.

Who says that you have to be thinking and you have to be talking all the time? Who says that it’s not okay to have moments when you just don’t have anything to say? Who says that you should be talking nonstop even when you don’t have anything valuable to say?

“He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak.” – Ausonius

Learn to talk less, say more. When you use your words, use them because they will brighten someone’s day and because they will teach people something valuable. Don’t just use words for the sake of using them. Use them because you have something to say.

“Much talking is the cause of danger. Silence is the means of avoiding misfortune. The talkative parrot is shut up in a cage. Other birds, without speech, fly freely about.” ~ Saskya Pandita ~love, Luminita

Stay Silent When:
  1. You have nothing to say. ...
  2. You need time to solidify your reaction. ...
  3. It's better left unsaid. ...
  4. You don't have a receptive listener. ...
  5. You want to let your feelings known. ...
  6. You have the power to change something. ...
  7. A golden opportunity comes knocking. ...
  8. Your opinion is requested.

Last week, when your boss asked you for your view on a matter, you said you had none. But inside you were brimming with opinions. Now he’s decided to go with your co-worker’s idea, and you wished you had told him yours.

Yesterday, your neighbor vented her frustration to you about her teenage son staying out late at nights. You ran into her son that same night and scolded him, revealing what his mother told you. Now she’s pissed at you for intervening, and you wish you had stayed silent.

It can be tough to know when to speak. Self-awareness, perceptiveness and empathy are the keys to making the right decision.

Stay Silent When:

You have nothing to say. Sometimes, people speak just because there’s silence. This induces mindless chatter. If you’re talking solely because it’s quiet, you really have nothing to say. Don’t assume something is wrong because someone isn’t talking, as they may simply not have anything to say. Speak deliberately; this is the key to attaining honesty and focus.

You need time to solidify your reaction. In emotionally-charged situations, such as debates or arguments with a spouse or friend, there’s always the risk of you responding in a hurtful or aggressive manner. To gain perspective on an issue, you might need to step back and observe. This allows you to listen to your intuition and logically decipher what’s really going on.

It’s better left unsaid. Avoid revealing irrelevant thoughts and feelings. For example, there’s no need to tell your uncle that you think his wife is unattractive and he could do better. This rule also applies when someone entrusts you with private information. If you reveal what someone has told you in confidence, they’ll have a hard time trusting you again.

You don’t have a receptive listener. There’s no use talking if the other person isn’t listening to you, because the message you’re trying to convey will not be heard.

Speak When:

You want to let your feelings known. To keep the peace, some people bottle up emotions that should be expressed. For example, if your spouse made a tactless comment about your cooking, bring it to their attention instead of stewing silently in resentment. Doing otherwise can cause your pent-up feelings to transform into a sudden burst of rage when you least expect them to.

You have the power to change something. If your words can alter a situation for the better, you should present them. For example, if your brother is wallowing in self-pity because he lost his job, you might humor him or show him the brighter side of life to lift him out of his depression.

A golden opportunity comes knocking. Missed opportunities are upsetting, even more so when one word from you could have prevented them. For instance, you were shy about approaching that guy or girl you had been crushing on for the longest time. Now they’re no longer an option because you took too long to make a move. When an opportunity presents itself, seize it by speaking up.

Your opinion is requested. Everyone has an opinion. If someone asks for yours, don’t be timid; deliver it truthfully and with diplomacy.

How to Become a Quiet Person -

Being quiet
  1. Don't stop talking for the rest of your life. ...
  2. Practice thinking about things before you even say them. ...
  3. Never interrupt people. ...
  4. Get a good, time consuming hobby. ...
  5. Let the other person speak first. ...
  6. Use manners. ...
  7. Release any pent-up energy you may have. ...
  8. Learn your weaknesses.

How to Become a Quiet Person

Are you tired of talking ALL the time? Some people just can't help it, but this article will give you a great start on how to: not just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, not argue as much, and become at a state of mental peace.

Part 1-Being quiet

  • Don't stop talking for the rest of your life.
  • When you become a quiet person, you don't turn into a mute. Only speak when spoken to or when it's necessary and think before you speak.
  • Quiet people still talk, they just hold in redundant or insignificant contributions. Quiet people are seen as intellectual, informative, wise, and erudite. Take your time with your responses and think of something helpful or insightful that will contribute to the conversation in a positive way.
  • Practice thinking about things before you even say them. For example, if you get mad at someone, have what you are going to say "pictured" in your head. Hold it there for 3-5 seconds. Is what you were going to say really worth your time? If not just think them to the person. If a answer is really needed, think and answer in a smart way.
  • Never interrupt people. Interrupting is just rude and gets on everyone's nerves. If you have something to say and someone else is talking, go ahead and think about what you want to say until the others are done talking. This is a good way to involve thinking things through in your every day life.
  • Get a good, time consuming hobby. A hobby will keep your mind occupied instead of your mouth. Some examples of perfect hobbies for this are: reading, drawing, music and dancing. Any hobby will work, but it will only work if you keep your mind focused on it, just make sure you can remain quiet too.
  • Let the other person speak first. That way you are maintaining a quiet persona and showing you have a polite and kind appeal.
  • Use manners. Manners are an important way to help us stop and think about the context of our behavior. Think about whether or not being noisy is being considerate of others' needs. Places such as libraries, theaters, exam rooms, etc. are obvious places where we should keep our voices down. Think about other less obvious situations, such as a restaurant, when someone else is talking, in the car, etc. and see if you can be quieter than normal. When you use your manners, you show respect and benevolence to the other party.
  • Release any pent-up energy you may have. Don't button yourself up all the time just because you're quiet. Get out and exercise to release your energy. Find places where you feel comfortable and do your favorite activities. Go for a run, walk your dog, write a song, or just relax and enjoy a movie. The point is to continue to be yourself and enjoy who you are on the inside, no matter how much you talk or how informative you are. This will help create balance in your life between the moments of keeping quiet and the moments of letting yourself be loud. If there is an imbalance, you can get angry, anxious, and irritated.
  • Learn your weaknesses. If you can't help but blurt things out when you are in school, just begin to work on that. Don't try to quit talking all the time though, just quit little by little.
  • Practice. Being more quiet doesn't just come to you overnight, it takes a long time to really establish it. Don't get frustrated if you have to cut back really slowly. As long as you keep at it, you will achieve your goal of being quieter.
  • Don't be misunderstood! A lot of people think quiet people are people that have problems in life or shy. If they misunderstand you, tell them that you're just a normal and quiet person. If someone is bullying you, being quiet is not the way to be! Go tell someone.
  • Remember to be a listener instead of a talker.
  • Don't forget to be independent. Some people assume that being quiet is a trend and makes you cooler, but it's not. Those people are posers and don't understand the purpose of being quiet. People become quiet people for a variety of reasons, but if you want to quiet down just to be popular, then this isn't the lifestyle for you.

Part 2- Having a Quiet Demeanor

  • Know how to listen a lot. How many times have you found yourself in the midst of a conversation with a colleague, friend, or romantic partner only to look over and notice a glazed look in their eyes and that they’re not really listening to the words you are speaking? If you’re anything like me, a heck of a lot. In a world that rarely stops talking, its rare to find someone listening with quiet intensity to every word you speak. Enter, quiet people.
  • Be observant and don’t miss much. In such a fast-paced world, it’s rare to find a reflective, keen observer. Quiet people, however, with less time spent chatting, have more energy to invest towards observing situations and people. Ask a quiet person their thoughts on a situation or person and you may be surprised to receive an extremely reflective and thorough answer. Less talking translates to more reflecting and observing.
  • Think before you speak. Ever had the experience of engaging in a work discussion with colleagues? The quiet man or woman in the group, who hardly ever speaks suddenly interjects. What’s the response? The whole room listens. With less time spent talking, quiet people have the time to really think before they speak. In this way, they not only offend few, but also take the time to make sure that what they are saying has true substance. Because they are so selective with words, when they speak, it seems like the whole world stops to listen to what they have to say.
  • Be approachable. With their quiet, relaxed temperament, quiet people are often viewed as fantastic confidants. They are often the ears that others run to for advice, respected for their good listening skills, calm temperament, and cautious words.
  • Be introverted. Many quiet people are also introverts, who become charged from alone time. Free from the distractions that often come from being around people all day long, quiet people are able to accomplish a lot with their quiet focus. It is not uncommon to observe a quiet co-worker, alone in his or her office for hours at a time eschewing a quiet focus.
  • Don't intimidate others. With their lack of loud words and exaggerated actions, quiet people rarely offend others in their presence. It’s rare to see a quiet friend speak rashly, or a quiet co-worker reprimand a boss. Because they don’t intimidate others in their presence, they often make others feel at ease.
  • Be calm every time. Ever had the experience of approaching a calm, quiet co-worker over a stressful project? Before you knew it, your entire attitude probably changed as their relaxed temperament rubbed off on you. Quiet people tend to have a calming effect on others.
  • Embrace solitude and all its benefits. In a fast-paced world, the quiet ones are often forgotten. But more often than not, they are the writers, artists, musicians, and creative thinkers who find their greatest inspiration from one thing and one thing only: solitude.

7 Scientific Reasons You Should Practice Being Silent

Did you know that the Finnish Tourism Board raked in great moolah with a marketing campaign about silence? They tried to entice people with how ‘silent’ Finland was and how it would help them discover themselves. And, it worked! We cannot move to Finland, but we can, however, practice keeping our mouths shut for two minutes everyday. Here's how science says it helps.
And it’s about time we listen to science

1. A study found that two minutes of silence can be more relaxing than listening to music

A study in the journal Heart states that being silent has more effect on you than listening to music. The study made a conclusion based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain. It is therefore suggested staying silent for a few minutes to get into a state of calm.

2. New brain cells are regenerated because of silence

A study in 2013 published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function studied the effect of silence on the brains of mice. It was discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning. The study concluded that silence helps the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system, which in simple terms means it can grow our brain.

3. Silence helps your development of cognitive and language skills

The effect of noise pollution on the cognitive skills of the human brain have been extensively studied. One of the studies recorded that children exposed to households or classrooms near railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

4. “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

These lines from Herman Melville perfectly sum up a 2013 study which studied the default mode of the brain. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote that the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

5. Silence relieves stress and tension

Don't Miss . .. And we still don’t remain silent when we’re stressed. Silence reduces the levels of stress hormones therefore making you calmer and preparing you to take on the stressful situation.

6. People who remain silent in stressful situations are great thinkers

A study by Talentsmart suggests that all the top performers have one ability in common and that is to remain calm and controlled during stressful situations. They find silence around chaos and use it for their benefit.

7. Vipassana, the ancient practice of silent meditation, is known to have great health benefits

Vipassana is said to change the lives of people who were unhappy due to stress and tension. It's a great thing to go for if you decide to go for days without uttering a word, and focusing on the good. At first you might face mental inertia, but once you master the meditation technique, there are noticeable health benefits.

Being Silent is About More than Just Not Speaking

Staying silent helps give you a reason to speak, to analyze your situations and yourself, to be aware of how you are going to react. Silence enriches you. Will you allow it to enter your life?

Staying silent doesn’t just mean being quiet. This seemingly passive action goes much farther.

The absence of words doesn’t mean that they disappear. Sometimes, you might think that you stop communicating when you’re silent. However, in reality you are transmitting much more than you realize.

You’re probably not aware of the amount of time you spend talking about things that don’t make much sense, however.

This typically has one goal: to escape from various fears and insecurities.

Staying silent makes you feel alone

Are you afraid of loneliness? Being silent is difficult because it makes you feel alone. You might be used to being surrounded by noise or other people.You have been taught to fear not having a family that supports you, people who love you, or friends who want to be with you.

That’s why just thinking about the simple fact of disappearing into silence can lead to a spiral of terror.

Talking is how you distract yourself from this. You spend time talking about the things you’ve done, what you’re planning to do, or what you’d like to do. Then, You communicate desires and frustrations.

You manifest everything through your words, but you never think about just being silent.

Remaining silent invites you to reflect and look inward. As attractive as this idea is, however, it is also frightening.

Not only will you find solutions to your problems, like learning to be alone with yourself. You’ll also come face to face with the errors and mistakes you have made.Showing only your best self

The fear of solitude that makes you speak when you don’t need to makes you show only your best self when you’re with other people.

To do this, you communicate with words, because silence can lead others to think you have some sort of problem.

You put on a mask for others. Sometimes, you even start to believe your own lies.

When you don’t give yourself a single second to dive into your mind, it’s a clear sign that there’s something about yourself you don’t like.

Do you feel happy? Who are you, really? These questions should bring a smile to your face and a quick and concise answer.

However, this is probably not the case.When was the last time you truly enjoyed the moment you were living in?

Words can help you hide everything that you must face, but it can give rise to panic.

Enjoy your silence

You may have surprised yourself on multiple occasions by talking to yourself. Perhaps this was when you were at home and no one else was around.

This is an attitude that you can’t control. Plus, it’s a way of avoiding that terrible silence you hate so much.

Imagine, however, that you’re in a dark, empty room and you can’t get out until you manage to be truly silent.

At first it will be difficult. You’ll start talking to yourself, you’ll cry, you’ll scream…But in the end, you will grow weary.

You’ll learn to be quiet when you’ve run out of words and have no choice but to enjoy your silence. This is when you’ll discover the following:

  • You will be aware of the fear you have of being alone, but you’ll also realize that you’re not actually alone. You have yourself!
  • You’ll stop blaming others for what happens to you and start taking responsibility for your past mistakes.
  • You’ll get to know both your good and bad parts, and you’ll understand them.
  • You’ll see how useless it is to try to make everyone like you and be someone you are not. You’ll realize that authenticity is the best of everything.

Staying silent helps give you a reason to speak, to analyze your situations and yourself, to be aware of how you are going to react. Many people do things without thinking because they’re not used to the absence of words.

5 Health Benefits Of Being Silent For Your Mind And Body

These are 5 benefits of silence and solitude, from improving memory to fighting insomnia. We live in a loud world where TV, music, and smartphones fill the void with white noise. Silence and solitude are broken by the buzz of technology while we call, text, and email to feel less alone. However, how often do we take the time to sit and enjoy silence?  

Silence and solitude give us the space to think, act, and play "catch up" with our mind, and can be very healthy for our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s time to go to our quiet and peaceful place, and feed our mind and body so we can reap these five benefits, backed by science.

Improves Memory

Going for a walk in the park alone can cause brain growth in the hippocampus, leading to better memory. A 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found adults who walked for 40 minutes three times a week for a year had brain growth in the hippocampus — an area of the brain associated with spatial memory. Immersing ourselves in nature helps the brain to focus and have better memory consolidation.

Stimulates Brain Growth

Sitting in silence could also boost grain growth by creating new cells. A 2013 study published in the journal Brain Structure and Function found at least two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region. This is essential since the hippocampus is linked to our ability to learn, remember things, and even our emotions.

Relieves Stress

Noise has a pronounced physical effect on the brain, which can lead to elevated levels of stress hormones. This happens when sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear, which then causes the body to react to these signals. The amygdala — associated with memory formation and emotion — is activated, and this leads to the release of stress hormones.

A 2006 study in Heart found silence can release tension in the brain and body in just two minutes. Researchers found it was more relaxing than listening to "relaxing" music. This was based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

Fights Insomnia

Spending a few minutes a day in silence can lead to improved sleep, especially for insomniacs. A 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found older adults who had trouble sleeping experienced less insomnia, fatigue, and depression after doing mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on our breathing and then bringing our mind’s attention to the present without thinking about the past or the future. It helps to break the train of everyday thoughts to provoke a relaxation response.

Heightens Sensitivity

There are retreats that promote the power of silence by refraining from reading, writing, or eye contact. One hundred scientists went on a retreat for research and found shutting off speech heightens awareness in other areas. They practiced the technique of vipassana meditation, which promotes overall wellbeing. This begins with breathing, which is then transferred to sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, intentions, and emotions.

Silence enriches you. Will you allow it to enter your life?

Do you believe that we can only communicate by using words? Do you think silence is something to be avoided? When you are alone with someone, if there are moments when none of you has anything to say does that silence make you feel uncomfortable? I really want to know what are your thoughts on this. You can share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below

How to Take a Vow of Silence and Why You Should Try Taking One

Fun Fact: When you are silent people have the tendency to yell at you.

One of four flashcards I used during my vow of silence.

They also become more animated–one coffee barista tried using sign language. All I wanted to do was scream:

Just because I am silent doesn’t mean I can’t hear!

But of course, I couldn’t say a word. So I let people yell at me and took mental notes for the moment I would be able to write this post for you.

I never thought I would miss words so much.

So far I have spent 10 days of my life in complete silence–those are some of the hardest, most introspective, interesting days of my life. And yes, I highly recommend it.

Confession: Silence terrifies me.

Awkward pauses literally make my heart pound out of my chest. In order to prevent these awkward moments from happening I have the bad habit of interrupting someone just in case there *might* be a long pause. Not only is this incredibly rude and a terrible way to interact, it also forces me to think pre-plan my statements.

There is nothing worse than someone who is only half listening to you while they simply think about their own response. I am that person. I am trying not to be.

Enter: Vow of Silence.

I realized the only way to curb my interrupting and over-thinking addiction was to go cold turkey. No talking at all. If I can’t respond at all, then there is nothing to pre-plan. When I can’t speak, all I can do is listen.

During my vows of silence I do everything I normally do–networking events, business masterminds, outings with friends but I don’t speak and I don’t write. My number one goal is to be supportive and truly and deeply listen to those around me.

What It’s Like During a Vow of Silence

It’s like you’re mourning the death of your ability to speak.

This crazy thing happens when people are speaking to you and you can’t speak back. While sitting silently in one of my masterminds this week I realized it’s very much like the 5 Stages of Grief…except you are mourning the end of your speaking and entering into the 5 Stages of Silence. No joke, I go through each of these 5 stages every single time I meet someone new during my vow. It doesn’t happen just once at the beginning, it often happens over and over again during each new interaction. Here’s what happens:

Denial and Isolation

The first reaction to not being able to speak is to try to pretend it’s not happening and deny the reality of the situation. Yes, people will ask you questions and you won’t be able to respond. Yes, people will say things that really bother you and you won’t be able to say a *** word! Denial is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions–and not being able to use your major mode of communication is completely overwhelming (at first). This is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate fear of being silent and judged or missing out.

Just to be clear: The first few moments of not speaking are the worst. At my first silent networking event I broke out in a sweat, my stomach started to cramp and I felt the desire to run from the room. Be prepared for this–it’s denial at it’s best. It does get better…read on.

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As the reality sets in and you realize, truly, you can’t say anything. An intense feeling comes up: I am not ready for this. I think this intense emotion comes from our vulnerable core, because we are terrified people will judge us, not like us or we won’t be able to stand up for ourselves. This vulnerability comes out as anger. Rationally, we know that we chose to be silent, but it still feels infuriating at first that we decided to do it! I think frustration is the best way to describe this stage. Specifically:

  • You show people a card saying you are on a vow of silence and then they ask you how it’s going. Bah!
  • You have advice for a friend going through something but you can’t say anything. Bah!
  • You have a really, really funny joke to add to the conversation. Bah!
  • Someone says something about you and you are dying to correct them. Bah!

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At some point you begin to hope that maybe you could figure out a way to express something. You use body language and eyebrow flashes. You point and gesticulate wildly. You make frustrated sounds and stomp your foot. Nope, still you can’t talk–and most likely you can’t express much. Vow of Silences are for listening and introspection NOT expression. That is a tough pill to swallow and so we bargain with it for as long as possible before…

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It is incredible the depth of tremendous sadness you feel when you can’t express yourself. I have never had such a great appreciation for those who are truly unable to speak. Once I have realized that I can’t bargain my way into communication, there is a sadness and regret that often floods into my body. I welcome this stage because I think this is what it truly means to be out of your comfort zone. I find it interesting to pay attention to when this happens during a vow of silence. Aha moments for me:

  • I want to help! I forget how often people ask for advice or feedback–and how often I also need help and feedback. When you can’t speak you are alone with your problems and they are alone with theirs. This brought me great sadness during my vow. However, not focusing on the solution let me be fully present and deep dive even further into the problem. It’s amazing how your silence makes people dig deep. I couldn’t solve her problem, but I could listen deeply.
  • Yesterday, a friend told me about a difficult time she was experiencing. I couldn’t respond verbally so I hugged her. It wasn’t enough. This showed me how important verbal empathy is to our connections and how much it helps me AND her to show compassion and understanding towards other human beings.
  • At one of my meetings someone mentioned a professional frustration–she has mentioned this same frustration many times before. In the past, I jump in with suggestions and solutions. But because I was silent I heard her for real and noticed the pattern–my suggestions aren’t working. I was sad not to help, but in my silence I realized I haven’t been helping. When I really listened I heard that what she is dealing with is emotional, not professional. I was sad I couldn’t share it right away (our next meeting should be good!) but excited to see it for the first time.

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Many people quit their vow before reaching this stage. They feel frustrated and say, “F*** this!” Or they feel incapacitated and they give up. Or they feel sad and lonely and so they go back to words. Thats ok! That process in itself can be illuminating. But, I will say the anger, bargaining, denial…it’s all worth the final stage: when you accept your silence and the words of those around you.

In the Indian religions religious silence is called Mauna and the name for a sage muni literally means ‘silent one’.

Wisdom comes from both listening and getting through the tough part to reach understanding. It takes bravery not to speak and to be fully vulnerable to those around you. Once you push through there is a wonderful reward.

At some point during your vow, if you stick with it, you will feel amazing calm.

It’s not quite happiness, but there is a content acceptance. It’s as if your mind finally accepts the fact that you are just there to listen. Finally the chatter in your brain will cease and you will just be listening.

I call this silent bliss.

It’s worth the 4 previous stages of silence. You hear more, you see more, you are more present and you learn so much. You will learn about others:

  • I learned that emotional fear can stop professional success.
  • I learned that if you give someone a little extra pause after they are done speaking, they will often go deeper.
  • I learned that people LOVE to talk about themselves–and that is a joyous thing to watch and support.

You will learn about yourself:

  • I learned that I interrupt people.
  • I learned that I have to stop fixing people. Sometimes they just want to be listened to.
  • I learned that I need lots of advice and it’s hard not being able to ask for it.

I will continue to do a Vow of Silence every summer and want to encourage you to do the same. I know a ton of readers joined me in my vow and I can’t wait to hear about their experiences. Do you want to take a vow of silence? Here’s how:

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How to Take a Vow of Silence

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Know Your Why

People take vows of silence for all kinds of amazing reasons. Typically people want to reset–they want to speak better, listen better or feel more.

When you take away one form of communication all others are heightened.

Here are a few of the most common reasons for vows of silence:

  • No Idle Words: In monasteries of many religious orders there are specific places and times (usually at night) where speaking was more strictly prohibited. Useless and idle words are often forbidden to make speech more purposeful. Do you speak purposefully?
  • Presence & Introspection: When we cease speaking to the outside world we turn internal. Taking away speaking as an option forces you to be with yourself. Do you have self-exploration to do?
  • Better Listening: When you can’t talk you become a far better listener because you can no longer think about what you will say next. It is an incredible experience. Not needing to speak also makes you incredibly present is what is happening around you because you can’t think about your next move. Do you need to be a better listener?
  • No Gossip: Hurtful words are impossible to take back and tend to harm everyone involved. Gossiping is like ripping open a feather pillow–it is impossible to stuff all those feathers back in. Do you speak with kindness?
  • As a Statement: Some individuals take a vow of silence to take a stance on an issue. On November 30th many Canadian students take a 24 hour vow of silence for Free The Children to speak up against poverty and child labor. John Francis took a 17 year vow of silence for the environment! What’s your purpose?

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Your Rules

Everyone does Vows of Silence differently. You have to know what works for you based on your why. If you are trying to stop gossiping and find that you gossip most with friends during the day, maybe you go silent in those areas of your life. If you are trying to self-explore you want to pair your vow of silence with alone time so you are not distracted by others.

  • Times of Day? Some people are silent just during the day and speak at night.
  • Online or Offline? Some people do Digital Vows of Silence and go quiet on social media and email.
  • Writing and Speaking? Some people stop writing AND speaking.
  • How long? Some people set a time limit to be silent, other’s keep their vow for as long as they feel necessary. On my first vow of silence I said I would only start speaking again when I stopped being afraid of the silence. For me that took 6 days! For my latest vow of silence I just wanted a reminder of that feeling and set the vow for 2 days.
  • Where? Do you want to be interacting with people during your vow to force you to listen or do you want to be alone so you can be introspective?

Decide on your rules before embarking on your journey.

Special Note: Somepeople want to still write during their vow of silence. I think journaling and taking notes on your experiences is awesome, but writing notes to others is still a form of speaking. One of the best parts of the vow of silence is being completely introspective and not focused on what you’re going to say. If you can simply write out your answer it defeats the purpose. In fact, you might spend even less time listening or being present because you are furiously writing notes to people.

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Once you’ve done some soul searching to find your why and figured out your boundaries, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty planning. I take a Vow of Silence every year and have learned that the right planning can make your vow easier and help you focus on what really matters. It’s important to pick a time that is conducive to being silent–and this very much depends on your goals. Here are some of the tips I have picked up along the way:

  • Silent Vacation: If you want introspection, you might want to go to a retreat or hotel and let the staff know ahead of time about your Vow.
  • Social Calendar: If you want to be a better listener, it’s best to have events or social plans on the calendar where you can practice the art of listening. One-on-one’s are really hard because you can give no feedback at all and it puts a lot of pressure on them. I like 3 or more so you can listen and be supportive but not force one person to do all the talking.
  • Day to Day: Some of the day to day stuff can be the hardest on a vow of silence–ordering coffee, picking up a prescription, etc. Try to pick a time with fewer appointments and errands if possible–unless that is part of your challenge!

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I personally don’t allow myself to write at all when I am on a vow of silence, except for 4 notecards that I print up and carry around with me:

  1. “I’ve taken a vow of silence. I’m trying to become a better listener.”
  2. “Please tell me about yourself.”
  3. “I’m sorry.
  4. “This has been as awkward for you as it was for me. Thank you for trying it with me!”

I have found that these 4 are just enough to get by and stimulate conversation (remember, mine is all about being a better listener). Do you have a few standard phrases you think will be important? As long as your goal isn’t to personally make communication as hard as possible, printing up a few standard phrases can make it easier so you can focus on your real goal.

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Alert People

Before embarking on your vow of silence let everyone know. It’s also important to get buy in from the people who you will really burden–your spouse, your kids, your colleagues. Make sure they are onboard. Specifically:

  • Change your voicemail so people don’t expect a call back.
  • Set an email autoresponder.
  • Tell your friends–otherwise they text you and wonder why they don’t hear back (sorry Christian!!)

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Prepare Special Activities

Being silent is a truly amazing and unique experience and you might want to try some amazing and unique activities while you do it. I love taking long hikes and walks during my vows to think and process. Some people like to listen to music, meditate and do yoga classes. I have heard people who plan road trips, read old journals, look through photo albums or even eat special mushrooms. It’s a time of experimentation–get creative.

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It’s Selfish

I learned this during my most recent vow of silence: speaking is a gift. It is a gift to be able to express yourself verbally and it is also a gift to those around you. When you stop speaking you are listening to others, but you are also relying exclusively on them to carry the conversation for you. You also can’t respond to their question, their pleas for advice, their need for support. While listening is a way to give to others during your vow, keep in mind that you are also forcing other’s out of their comfort zone.

Quick Story:

I met with a friend during my vow of silence who is very quiet. In fact, I didn’t realize how quiet she was until I was quiet too! I was actually excited to get together with her because I thought that it would be a great opportunity for me to listen to her for a change — I feel like I am always the one blabbering away. That’s not quite what happened. I wish I could say that we got together and for the first time ever she poured her heart out. While that has happened before with someone while I was on a vow of silence, it didn’t happen this time. In fact, she shut down even more. She was just as nervous having to talk as I was with not being able to! Now, I love getting people out of their comfort zone but I forced this upon her and felt terrible. She said, “this is one of the hardest things I have ever done and you are the one on the vow of silence!” Oops.

This made me realize how different people are. Taking a vow of silence can be a personal challenge and a social challenge! Be sure to think about how your vow could affect those around you.

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End on a High

The best part of taking a vow of silence is the reflection afterwards.

  • Processing: Writing this post has been wonderfully rewarding for me as I process the last few days–thank you for reading.
  • Gratitude: Thank the people who you challenged! My very next task is to write thank you notes to all of the people who helped me during this vow.
  • Next Time: What would you do differently next time? Is there a next time?

I know there is a next time for me! Follow me on Twitter for my next vow of silence…I hope you’ll silently join me.

Until next time:

Thank you for your patience as I embarked on this silent adventure.

The practice of silence | PSYCHOLOGIES

Know YourselfListen to Your Body

In the midst of the daily hustle and bustle, the constant flow of information, professional and family commitments, we often stop hearing this inner voice. Isolating oneself from the familiar social environment in order to get closer to oneself (or, as they say, “to understand oneself”) has become quite popular in recent years.

Retreat (from the English retreat - to leave, retire, retire) turns into one of the ways to take inventory of your desires and needs, into an attempt to rediscover the meanings and goals of your life. Some venture into a variety of yoga retreats, zen retreats, or even novitiates in a monastery, accompanied (or not) by a vow of silence. Another possibility - the so-called self-retreat (or self-retreat) - is suitable for those who want to exclude the ideological or religious component of this process in order to really be alone with themselves.

State of being

Computer, books, phone and even watches should be left outside the retreat. There is no need to rush anywhere and do something by the clock - in the first two days it brings a certain feeling of discomfort: the clock, and especially the phone, creates the illusion that we are constantly in control of the situation. Without this sense of control, it becomes somewhat uncomfortable.

Just like without the continuous activity that we usually do from morning till night, constantly keeping in mind a list of tasks that need to be done during the day. At best, we include rest as one of the items on this list and become frustrated and even irritated if insomnia or noisy neighbors prevent us from completing this item.

Going from the state of "doing" to the state of "just being" is not so easy. First of all, you need to allow yourself to do it - this is literally an act of will, in defiance of the resisting mind, which keeps talking about a waste of time and constantly questions what needs to be done next. The list of obvious to-dos is limited to cooking and sleeping. The rest of the time you spend alone with yourself. I had only five days to dive into the state of being - I tried several meditation techniques on myself that were designed to speed up this process.

Listen to the silence

The silence that we urban dwellers enjoy so much in the bosom of nature is actually filled with many sounds. In the silence around me there were trills of birds, the sounds of the wind in the branches of trees and the rustle of the grass being shaken by it. The buzzing of insects in a blooming wild rose. The quiet lapping of the sea, the distant, barely audible rumble of a boat motor.

Listening to sounds, distinguishing them, separating one from the other, with full concentration on listening - I borrowed this exercise from John Kabatt-Zin, a recognized expert in the study of depression and stress. For ten minutes, I concentrate on sounds and their recognition: a seagull calls, a bumblebee buzzes, a woodpecker knocks. It is necessary, as it were, to decompose this symphony into parts, recognizing their performers to oneself, and then again combine the sound of individual instruments into music. Not to follow them, listening to, say, one woodpecker, but to allow them to be, to sound together.

To improve the "effect of presence" in the body and distract from thoughts, yoga recommends focusing on the process of breathing

This kind of listening can teach us to handle our anxiety, our own thoughts in a similar way - listen to them like sounds. Don't chase them away, but let them ring in your head. This exercise can be useful for those who are familiar with the cycle of obsessive experiences, when some problem does not come out of the head, which literally does not give any sleep or rest. Do not get involved in the flow, but listen to your thoughts and, perhaps, recognize - "I criticize, I worry, I plan. " And then let them sound and subside.

Eric Meisel - American psychotherapist and creative coach

Over the past twenty years I have worked with many outstanding writers, musicians, screenwriters, actors and artists. And in the course of his psychotherapeutic practice, he came to the conclusion that sometimes a little is enough for us in order to awaken again in ourselves a taste for life and the ability to be creative. Give yourself just one hour of silence a day. Turn off the TV, put down the book, remove all sound stimuli (if noise is unavoidable, maybe earplugs will help?). Calm the running of thoughts by simply saying “shhh!” to them. And let the silence be. After a while, when you feel that silence envelops you, that you are immersed in it, you can finally say to yourself: “Creative ideas, come!” And see what happens next.

Walk silently

Walking helps to restore contact with your body, restore the feeling of being in the present moment - it is recommended by psychotherapists, yogis, and doctors. However, we walk for the most part absolutely mechanically, carried away by thoughts as far as the quality of the road allows. To improve the “presence effect” in the body and distract from thoughts by concentrating on walking, yoga recommends focusing on the breathing process, synchronizing it with steps.

Kinhin, the meditation practice of slow walking used in Zen Buddhism, invites you to extend your attention not only to what is happening in the body, but to turn your senses to everything around you: sounds, smells, sensations from temperature, humidity and air movement.

I decided to focus on the sensations of walking itself - on the contact of the sole with the surface, on how to feel how the foot springs, the muscles tense and relax. I discovered walking on a rocky shore - it requires complete concentration, because you have to carefully choose where to put your foot. Especially if you walk barefoot: the process completely absorbs all attention, allowing you to get a “rest from thoughts” (of course, they continue to spin in your head, but more like a background, since the focus of attention is directed to movement).

Quietly eat

In ordinary life, we often eat mindlessly, mechanically. We devour food while watching the news on TV, reading a newspaper or, at best, chatting with friends. This prevents us from focusing on the process of eating, not to mention its taste and feeling of satiety.

I took the advice of one of the Zen teachers and tried it on myself. The point is to try to eat without making noise. Gently lower the spoon into the bowl of soup, without touching its edges. Slowly and quietly place the cup of tea on the table surface. Almost silently bite off small pieces of an apple, slowly chew and swallow.

The essence of meditation is to capture with one's attention as much information as possible, perceived by our senses

This practice requires concentration on every movement, on every (and necessarily small) portion of food that enters the mouth. It involves slowness and concentration on the process.

This exercise proved to be very effective. For example, in everyday life, I could easily miss the moment of satiety - especially during lunch with friends or dinner in front of the TV - but now the feeling of fullness was so clear and unambiguous that I immediately pushed the plate aside.

Silent eating techniques can be easily used anywhere, at any time - for example, in a cafe during lunch or when having breakfast on your own. And I will definitely use it.

Just to sit

Kinhin - walking meditation - usually alternates with sitting meditation in Zen practice. The latter is called sicanthase, which is another way to “just be.” The essence of meditation is to cover with your attention as much information as possible, perceived by our senses: to notice literally all sounds, smells, air movement, sensations in your own body ...

Half an hour spent sitting still with a straight back helps to stop the "internal dialogue". When thoughts run away from the present moment and our attention is carried away after them, the only thing that is suggested to do is to gently return our attention to what is happening in the body and in the immediate environment.

When I was asked to participate in the sitting meditation of a Soto Zen group on a silence retreat, I agreed with some trepidation, expecting that sitting still for half an hour with my legs tucked under me would be difficult for me. Even shorter ten-minute meditations with concentration on the breath were not easy for me, but these half-hours literally flew by like two minutes.

All these methods give you the opportunity to be completely alone with yourself and hear the voice of your inner "I". And, strictly speaking, for this it is not necessary to go into retreat. However, the real distance between us and the familiar social environment greatly facilitates this task.

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in isolation. Norwegian writer and researcher Erling Kagge came to this conclusion when he returned home from an eight-month voyage across the Atlantic and found that, judging by the news, almost nothing had changed in the world during this time. In his book Silence in the Age of Noise: A Little Book for a Big City, published by Alpina Publisher, he explains why silence has become especially important among endless mobile alerts and how to find it in a noisy city.

Silence in the Age of Noise: A Small Book for a Big City

Although I thought quite the opposite when I was young, the normal state of the brain is chaos.

It took me a long time to figure this out because I often live my day on autopilot. I sleep, then wake up, check messages on my mobile phone, take a shower, have breakfast and go to the publishing house. I answer letters, hold meetings, read and talk with colleagues. My own and others' expectations of how my day should be run hour after hour until I'm back in bed.

But sometimes, when I fall out of my habitual routine and I get the opportunity to be in silence, doing nothing, the whole chaos of what is happening around me opens up to me. It is not easy to sit idly in an armchair, because there are so many temptations everywhere. The brain, accustomed to work automatically, is lost: when there is silence around, there is no one around and there is nothing to do, it becomes not easy to beat the thumbs. Often I decide to occupy myself with anything, just not to fill the silence with myself.

At some point, I realized that the reason for most of my problems lies precisely in this. Of course, I wasn't the first to think of this. Back in the 17th century, the philosopher and theorist of boredom Blaise Pascal said: “All the misfortunes of a person come from the fact that he does not want to sit quietly at home.” The unwillingness to be alone, to be silent and to think did not arise with the mass distribution of television in 1950s and the Internet in the 1990s - it was characteristic of people in the days of Pascal.

Love for the endless stream of new thoughts that we constantly draw from the TV, tablet and phone stems from our needs rather than conditions them. Anxiety is a natural human condition from birth. The present hurts us, said Pascal. We strive in every possible way to occupy ourselves with new goals in order to divert attention from ourselves.

In our age, there are a staggering number of new distractions, and there will be more and more of them. We live in century of noise . The silence was threatened.

Apple founder Steve Jobs was well aware of not only the benefits, but also the dangers of using the technologies he developed. He realized that the consequences of the development of the digital world can only be put up with, however, he limited the access of his own children to Apple products. I want to believe Jobs the father much more than Jobs the marketer.

According to one famous study, the concentration of attention in a modern person is lower than that of a goldfish. Today, a person can focus attention for eight seconds (in 2000, the indicator was at around 12), and a goldfish for nine, and, as you know, it occupies far from the first place in the food chain. I suspect that this study is very limited and its results should be taken with a grain of salt. However, I mentioned it for a reason: every second it becomes more and more difficult for us to focus on one thing.

Echoes of Pascal's philosophy can also be found in the work of writer David Foster Wallace, a member of my generation:

“Bliss—an instantaneous feeling of joy and gratitude for the gift of life and awareness—is the exact opposite of murderous, crushing boredom. Try to devote yourself completely to some unbearably tedious task (for example, fill out a tax return or watch golf on TV) and you will immediately be washed over by a deadly wave of incredible longing. Stay afloat by all means…” If you succeed, Wallace says, you will feel like you’ve taken a sip of water after several days of wandering in the desert.

According to Wallace, the key to success lies in accepting and coping with boredom. This is the only way to exist in an environment that has squeezed out everything human and vitally necessary - this is the only way to breathe in a vacuum. “It is important to have the ability - innate or acquired - to find the other side of the routine, all sorts of trifles, meaningless repetitions and complications. In other words, being unstoppable by the boredom of .”

Not subject to boredom. I thought.

Perhaps it should be just the other way around? Maybe it would be good for people to be a little bored sometimes? Stop, look at the world from the outside and ask yourself: “What am I really doing?” I think Wallace talked about that too. While still an elementary school student, he shared his grandiose plans with his mother: "I want to put on a great play, but it will only start when everyone who is bored to death with the theater has left the auditorium - all but one." I like the idea that you just have to wait long enough to get a reward. […]

© Berndnaut Smilde


Sometimes it's good to make life difficult on purpose. You should not jump over the fence every time in the lowest place. I tried to explain to my own children why I decided to write about silence: because silence is important and it is much more difficult to appreciate it than noise.

I don't mean to say that silence is important because it is better than sound, although noise is often associated with negative events such as unrest, aggression, conflict and violence. Noise is both distracting sounds, and images, and the flow of our own thoughts. Always on the run, we lose a part of ourselves. Dealing with such a colossal amount of impressions is tiring, but this is only half the trouble. The fact is that noise, which manifests itself as an anticipation of being in front of a screen or keyboard, causes an addiction, for which only silence can serve as a cure.

The more we are distracted, the more we want to be distracted. In theory, it should be quite the opposite, but often this is exactly what happens. We fall into the dopamine trap. Dopamine is a chemical compound responsible for transmitting signals between brain cells. Simply put, dopamine makes us want and seek what we want. We don't know when we'll get an email or message, so we check our smartphone over and over again, like a player frantically pulling the lever of a one-armed bandit. However, the trick of dopamine is that it does not give us satisfaction. Even when we achieve what we want, we do not feel relieved. I myself often continue to google, although it has been 20 minutes since I found what I was looking for. Of course, I understand the banality of such a situation, but sometimes it’s really much easier for me to give in to my own weakness than to force myself to stop. I go to the sites I have just visited and read what I already know. At such moments, I lose control of my life. And it's just plain stupid.

My unreasonable behavior can be easily explained in terms of biology: man is created to always remain unsatisfied. There is a system of opioid receptors in our brain responsible for the feeling of joy when we get what we want. Unfortunately, dopamine is much stronger than opioids, so even when we get what we dreamed of, we continue to chase the object of our desires. This is the essence of the dopamine trap. Incessant expectations and searches bring us more pleasure than realizing the value of the goal achieved.

This is a form of noise that causes anxiety and other negative feelings. Most Internet services have one thing in common: no one uses them. Even well-known apps like Twitter fall out of fashion over time. With the decline in popularity, the developers themselves begin to doubt their business concept, and this is good. The problem with many successful services lies in the fact that they are not only addictive, but also lonely. The main business idea behind applications like Twitter is that the service should create a need that it is designed to satisfy, but only temporarily. Your addiction feeds the owners of the service. “Gradually, attachment becomes a habit, and internal triggers make the user turn to your product specifically,” writes entrepreneur Nir Eyal in his book Hooked Buyer *. I shave, so I exist.

Some users get positive feedback immediately when they post something on social media. The majority have to sit and wait for at least some reaction to their post. And the more unpredictable this process is, the more it drags on, because nothing can be missed. Such a tedious routine, writes Eyal, causes melancholy, frustration, passivity and, as already mentioned, loneliness.

To find confirmation of Eyal's words, it is enough just to look around, and even better, look at yourself and me. Many have already become victims of FOMO (Fear of missing out - English) - fear of missing out on something important or interesting. Eyal calls FOMO Instagram's genius engine. Instagram is indeed a brilliant service, but the trouble is that the events that its users talk about can hardly be classified as important. Quite the opposite. There is clearly a lack of special moments in our lives, so we document the routine and actions that are repeated over and over again.

In the spring of 1984, I returned home from an eight-month voyage across the Atlantic. My comrades and I reached the shores of West Africa in a boat more than ten meters long, then the Caribbean Sea and then Norway again. In those distant days, there was no Internet, and we did not receive any news from our homeland, with the exception of rare letters from our girls, friends and relatives, sent to the ports on our route before they were called for. When I returned home, I greedily pounced on the newspapers and radio, once an important part of my life, and was surprised to find that little had changed since the autumn when we set sail from our native shores. Politicians discussed all the same problems, and even new arguments were not really found. The news was about the same thing, except that some new heroes appeared.

When you spend a lot of time and energy staying connected and up to date, it's easy to conclude that it's all worthwhile, even though you probably haven't done anything important. This approach is called rationalization. The New York Review of Books dubbed the battle between Internet service developers "the new opium war in which addiction exploitation has become the main strategy of marketers." The only difference is that today the hucksters offer you not a joint with weed, but an application in a bright package.

In a sense, silence is the exact opposite of this farce. Silence gives us the opportunity to penetrate into the depths of what we are doing. Don't think too much. Realize the importance of the moment. Shut off from the world when we go for a run, cook, have sex, study, talk, work, invent something new, read or dance. Anyone who has written a book knows something that no one else knows: the main difficulty is not in writing a book, but in forcing yourself to sit down, collect your thoughts and get down to business. […]


Everyone gets bored from time to time. This is fine.

Boredom can be described as the absence of meaning. Philosopher Lars Svendsen argues that boredom makes us feel trapped. In a particular situation or in the world as a whole. This happened to me more than once. As a child, when I was looking forward to something, I got so bored that I felt almost physical pain. In such cases, my mother said that being bored is useful, but I only now understand what she meant. I often have to watch my own children literally cry with anguish, withdraw into themselves and reach almost despair when, as it seems to them, nothing is happening. For me, it’s really good for them to get bored sometimes, because now I know that my mother was right.

I don't get bored like I used to. It is easier for an adult to find something to do. When you feel sad, you can just have a few words with a fellow traveler on the subway. It works, I've tried it myself, although, to be honest, I'm not in the right mood every morning.

If I am sitting in a cramped airplane seat and I manage to forget a book at home and there is not one worthy of the films offered, or if I am waiting for someone who is very late, I may well be overtaken by almost the same boredom as in childhood . What happens to us in such circumstances is called lack of experience.

Such a deficit is not only the absence of events, but the fact that nothing happens. An overabundance of impressions can also lead to a paucity of emotions. The thing is that there are so many impressions that it is impossible to digest them. According to Svendsen, we stimulate ourselves with ever stronger experiences, instead of taking a deep breath, shutting ourselves off from the world, and devoting time to self-knowledge and experience. The notion that boredom can only be avoided by constantly doing something new, staying connected, sending hundreds of messages, googling again and again, is naive to say the least.

The more we try not to be bored, the more we end up bored.

I myself have been through this many times. And, I must say, it becomes a habit. And now I watch my children follow in my footsteps. We allow the pursuit of employment to become an end in itself instead of letting our restlessness lead us to new goals.

However, the line between boring lack of meaning and joyful meaningfulness is very thin. What seems useless today, like playing a board game or watching a documentary, may turn out to be a graceful respite and set the stage for productive work tomorrow. In any case, it is extremely valuable to reflect on what brings us joy and fills our life with meaning. Let's make it our goal to remember this next time.


One summer I spent a full 18 hours flying from Oslo to Sri Lanka to find myself in a picturesque place where I could relax, enjoy healthy food and practice yoga. The vacation was a success, but how strange that in order to disconnect from reality, I had to fly around half the globe.

Some people create a pleasant, quiet environment around themselves by using soundproofing in their homes. On the Danish peninsula of Jutland, they even built a special soundproof hall of silence with double doors located at a distance of 30 centimeters from each other, which allows you to cut off external sounds. Dozens of people regularly gather in this hall. They each sit down on their own pillow and stay together for 15 minutes in complete silence, only occasionally broken by a slight rustle or someone's cough. The purpose of the event is to remind yourself that the main thing in life is true love for your neighbor, and to learn mutual sympathy.

Silence centers are being built everywhere. At the end of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is the Lake Shrine, where visitors are invited to plunge into the "silence of loneliness". I ended up there after walking the entire city, from the criminal neighborhoods in the east to the ocean coast. It took us four days to get around Los Angeles at a calm pace. Here everyone drives cars - we wanted to see the city from the sidewalk. Several times we were stopped by the police, who are suspicious of people moving on their own two feet. Law enforcement officers were convinced that only bandits, drug addicts and crazy people could walk. After four days of wandering along the dusty sidewalks, it was not difficult for us to find peace of mind in the "Lake House" with its picturesque carp pond, wonderful flowers and silence. Then we went to the beach, located just five minutes from the temple, and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. There was the same silence on the beach. When I walk in the Norwegian mountains or the Himalayas, away from houses and roads, I often come across special buildings designed so that people can sit there in peace and silence. But around these buildings it is just as quiet.

Creating special conditions for silence is a great idea, but driving through traffic jams to calm down, doing yoga and walking, or flying in an airplane to retire to a meditation retreat is too tiring. All the best things in life are free. The silence that I am talking about is always with you, you can refer to it at any moment in your mind, and it will not cost money. There is no need to fly to Sri Lanka: silence can be found while lying in your own bath.

Silence comes to me when I manage to lie in bed for an extra five minutes (at least this became possible when the children grew up and learned to get up on their own). Or while I get to work in the morning. I have a choice - to go in traffic jams, by car (about 12 minutes), take the subway (15 minutes) or walk (half an hour). I can quite disconnect from reality while driving, but I constantly have to follow the movement, besides, I listen to the radio. Taking the subway means I have to rush to a certain time and then push around in a crowded train car. All in all, a complete mess. I don't experience anything special on the subway, except that I start to worry when the train is delayed. Therefore, if time permits, I always prefer to walk. I watch the course of life, which I cannot see from the subway tunnel and even from the car window, I study the faces of passers-by, the outfits that change depending on the weather, the windows of shops and cafes, the palette of asphalt and pavement tiles laid by someone's industrious hands. Of course, the way to work is not an adventure at all, but I see a certain value in it. Between the two places where I spend most of my time, only half an hour walk, but during this time I manage to switch off, fenced off from the noisy world. […]

© Berndnaut Smilde


One might think that the most important thing in information technology is the technological component, but the situation is different. The key is in ourselves, in how we change under the influence of information technologies, what we want to learn, how we relate to nature, relatives, time and energy spent, to our own freedom, which we give up in the name of convenience. Many people claim that digital technologies are reducing distances, but this is just a platitude. Rather, the point is that, as Heidegger said, intimacy disappears. To achieve intimacy, we should, according to this misunderstood philosopher, strive for truth, not technology. I tried to get acquainted through the Internet and now I am inclined to believe that Heidegger was right.

Of course, Heidegger could not have foreseen the development of modern technology. In his century, the latest advances were 50-horsepower car engines, movie projectors, and punched cards. But he had a premonition where everything was heading.

The desire to use modern technology will force us to give up our own freedom, Heidegger declared. We will turn from free people into resources. This idea strikes even more today than in Heidegger's time. The trouble is that we will become not a valuable resource for each other, but something less pleasant - a tool for corporations such as Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Google and Snapchat, and for a state that wants to collect as much information about us (thanks that we help him in every possible way in this), and then sell it or use it for your own purposes. Smells like exploitation.

When Alice meets Humpty Dumpty in Wonderland, he tells her: “The question is which of us is the boss here. That is the question!”* Are you yourself or someone unknown to you?

Of course, man is a social animal. Staying connected is good, because we cannot function alone. Yet sometimes allowing yourself to turn off your phone, sit down, shut up, close your eyes, take ten deep breaths, and try to focus on something you don't normally think about is extremely important. Or you can not think about anything at all. Call it meditation, yoga, mindfulness or sanity, but it's useful. I like doing meditation and yoga. I also practice self-hypnosis (I even got my cousin addicted to it) and periodically put myself into a state of hypnosis for 20 minutes to disconnect from reality. It really works. Every day after dinner, I lie down on my bed and imagine how I am floating a few centimeters from the bed.

These are all wonderful practices, but it is important to learn how to achieve silence without using special techniques.

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