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May The Silence Make You Strong

A man sitting on a ledge..
Could silence be a missing tool in our toolkit of personal growth and development?

What is it about silence that is so powerful? Many luminaries and prophets throughout history made a regular habit of dwelling in silence. No phones, no music, no TV, no people, no talking, and no work. I recently came across a powerful quote by Naval Ravikant that I think accurately summarizes what happens when we keep silence.

It’s like your e-mail inbox. It’s piling up. E-mail after e-mail that’s not answered, going back 10, 20, 40 years. And when you sit down to meditate, those e-mails start coming back to you. “Hey, what about this issue, what about that issue, have you solved this, did you think about that? You have regrets there? You have issues there?” And that gets scary—people don’t want to do that. “It’s not working, I can’t clear my mind. I better get up and not do this.”

But really, what’s happening is it’s self-therapy. It’s just that instead of paying a therapist to sit there and listen to you, you’re listening to yourself. And you just have to sit there as those e-mails go through one by one. You work through each of them, until you get to the magical inbox 0. And there comes a day when you sit down and you realize, the only things you’re thinking about are things that happened yesterday because you’ve processed everything else. Not necessarily even resolved it, but at least listened to yourself. And that’s where meditation starts. And I think it’s a very powerful thing that everybody should experience. And that’s when you arrive at the art of doing nothing.

If you’re like me, you have a backlog of unresolved emotional issues. Silence is a kind of self-therapy. When silence is kept, stress decreases, emotions get resolved, intelligence develops, and happiness increases. Silence is a kind of grace. I find that silence works most for me in the early morning and in the evening. During the day, my mind tends to wander easily and get distracted by the things I am seeking to accomplish.

The similar concept of stillness is actually a prescribed form of worship in the Bible.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10

A busy mind is the enemy of God-consciousness. We honor God when we think of him according to his true nature. Silence, it follows, can be a tool, not only for improving our physical and emotional health, but for growing in relationship with God.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes. It’s a bit sappy, but it features a strong punchline at the end.

May the flowers fill your heart with beauty, May hope forever wipe away your tears, And, above all, may silence make you strong. (Dan George)

For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


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