Your brain on silence

This past weekend, my husband was away at a workshop for photographers, so I had some time to myself. I have to say that after five months of being pretty much together 24/7, I really missed his presence. 

But I was OK. In fact, I was more than OK. At one point in the first afternoon, I sat looking out at the courtyard in the afternoon light. It was so pretty, and I realized that I had never really seen it in this light. Or at least, I hadn’t paused to see it before. It was a nice moment.

A friend of mine recently sent me an article on silence and how beneficial it is for our brains. So, I decided to take advantage of the moment to sit in utter silence for a bit. I kinda liked it . . . and then I didn’t.

Pulled out my laptop and starting browsing for shoes. Good grief, Judy. Breathe. Three years of yoga and I’m still learning. Back to silence.

After a few more minutes that day and on each of the next two days, I started noticing things a little differently. Even the same old view out windows, down hallways, into rooms seemed different. With no distractions, no conversation, no electronic noise, I was left with my own thoughts and perceptions. And it was nice. (Maybe this is what my cats have been trying to teach me all along. Hmmm.)

Anyway, the article made a compelling case for why it was worth my while to stick with the silence, besides the sense of peace and contentment I felt.

It explained how research is showing that silence is much more important to your brain than you might think.

In a 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function, scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

Don’t have two hours a day to sit in silence – go figure. But take heart.

Another study published in the journal Heart discovered that just two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings on changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain. Good things for our aging brains.

So there you go. Two minutes is certainly doable. I managed to last about 15 minutes each day, so I’m thinking I can tackle a few minutes of conscious silence every day.

How about you? Maybe over coffee first thing in the morning, or by taking a walk in a quiet place without your iPhone (gasp!) and earphones?

I think it’s worth a shot. Try a little conscious silence for a few days, and let me know how it goes.

Maybe we can start a “silence movement.” The world could use a little more quiet, don’t you think?

Till next time,



  1. Joy
    May 16, 2017 / 11:40 am

    If I could just get my brain to shut up!
    Or if I could just stop paying attention to it.

    • Judy McLane
      May 16, 2017 / 8:45 pm

      LOL! I know what you mean!

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