We are more than three weeks into our social distancing and stay at home orders–I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I wanted to thank all of the organizations, governmental programs, and professionals who have reached out to help us. We wouldn’t have such quick access to crucial updates during this phase if it weren’t for the dynamism of internet and social media.

Aside from when technology is at our aid, light-speed communication can sometimes leave us feeling like we are taking in too much. There’s always one more thing we don’t have time to look at–another email, another ping! from your phone, or person telling you how to feel, what to do…
I believe it’s worthwhile to know the value of silence … finding moments for quieting our mind, letting go, and disconnecting. Sometimes it may seem that if we delve into silence, life will feel empty or overwhelming. But maybe (I’d say probably) something emerges from the emptiness. Wise influencers of our time have encouraged us to explore yet-untapped discoveries, buried in the quiet:

  • Pablo Picasso clamed you can’t really do a great work of art without solitude.
  • Albert Einstein believed “the monotony and solitude of a quiet life are what stimulate the creative mind.”
  • Henry David Thoreau–one of my favorite transcendentalists–said, “I’ve never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
  • Anne Frank, confined to a stay-at-home order far sinister than ours, said: “What people who are sad or lonely or unhappy need to do is go outside somewhere where they can be quiet and alone with the heavens, nature and God, because only then does one feel that the world is as it should be.”

Silence is our reset button: by reducing physical aspects of stress, we engage and attune better in social situations. We can welcome silence by ourselves and with our loved ones. When your partner comes home from work, what if you take a brief pause, look into each others’ eyes, and remember to connect before conversing on the day’s events. Couples expert John Gottman emphasizes that couple interaction should strengthen each partner, not be the source of stress. The best interactions with our significant others, he posits, occur when our heart rate is under 100 beats per minute. If either person is flooded with emotion or reactivity, it’s best to give each other space for a good 20 minutes.

Children benefit from silence as well. I was moved reading on how Montessori schools– where the method of education is rooted in kinesthetic learning, self-observation, and playing together– teach children a practice called “making silence.” This active and conscious process allows children to calm their own minds, described by educator and philosopher Maria Montessori as if we are “putting a microscope to our ears, with the lense of silence.” By grounding and turning inward, children learn to find  stillness within. I encourage parents to explore the “making silence” method with their little ones.

I tell my body to be still. I tell my mouth to be quiet. I take a deep breath. I close my eyes. I make silence. 
–Foothills Montessori

Fun fact: modern research shows exposing mice to two hours of silence per day increases cells within their hippocampus– the brain region managing emotional regulation and memory consolidation. More finding-silence practices include journaling, coloring, mindful breathing (try Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbar’s The Healing Power of the Breath), yoga, or meditative walks. Here’s a simple one to try out:

Silent Walking Exercise
Take ten minutes and walk silently. It may be a walking in a circle in your yard, around the house, or around the neighborhood (maintaining good social distance these days, please). The aim is to remain silent throughout the course of the entire walk so that you can “listen” to the content your mind is producing. As thoughts, feelings, images or objects draw your mind’s attention, say to them silently to yourself three times. As they say: “Name it, to tame it.” In my neighborhood, we have an ample number of ducks waddling around, so you would say to yourself, “duck, duck, duck” three times, or what might arise could be “nuisance, nuisance, nuisance.” Try not to judge what arises, nor imbue what comes up with importance or significance. Simply notice what happens as you follow the rhythm of your mind. Notice each time your attention is repeatedly drawn to something you can let go of or gently file away.

Let’s take advantage of our online resources, as we continue to remain in balance. You deserve moments to yourself, and silence will be there to greet you. I encourage you to share what opens up to you in silence, or from experimenting with any one of the practices mentioned. You can reach me at CarlaBarrow@TheIntegralTherapist.com, or give me a call at 786.708.1724. I look forward to hearing from you.



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