There are many meditation and mindfulness techniques out there that one can use to find a place of relaxation. So when we came across one dubbed “intermittent silence,” we were curious to learn more. We looked to the pros to understand the mindfulness practice, what its benefits are and how it can work for you.
Scroll on for the expert info.
What is intermittent silence?
Intermittent silence, also referred to as "intentional silence", is a form of meditation where you choose to take a break from all the distractions of life and simply engage in silence for a period of time. Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist and Author who has previously taught yoga, writes that whether you’re in a relationship or living alone, you so often find yourself feeling the pressure to answer the phone or find something interesting to say. Intentional silence can be a great way to combat this pressure and unplug, while also providing an opportunity to play around with nonverbal communication.
What are the benefits of this practice?
We live in a fast-paced world where we’re almost always “on,” and the practice of intentional silence is an easy way to give our brains a break from the constant processing of speech and thought. “We love to talk, and silence, even intermittent silence, is not a regular part of our life—we start learning the value of talking as soon as we are born,” writes Dr. Krishna Bhatta, MD, an Author, Surgeon, Inventor and a Meditator, currently practicing as Chief of Urology at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. He adds that there are several areas of the brain that play a critical role in speech and language, even a ten-minute period of intermittent silence can give the brain a rest from its processing functions while also helping us relax.
Another great benefit of taking the time to engage in intermittent silence is that it can actually help you become a better listener and communicator. “The practice of intentional silence can lead to an increase in self-awareness as you become more in-tune with your own thoughts, feelings and reactions,” explains Dr. Carmichael. She adds that silence can be quite powerful and make us a bit more mindful of the words we choose and how we deliver them.
How can I practice intermittent silence?
If you’re interested in giving intermittent silence a try, Dr. Carmichael has a few simple tips. First, decide how long your session of intentional silence will last, whether that be a couple of minutes or even hours. If you’re living with a partner or roommate, you might wish to make them aware of this length of time beforehand. Intentional silence also doesn’t mean you necessarily have to sit in a room and do nothing, she notes that you can use this time however you wish, whether that’s something like journaling, listening to music or practicing mindfulness. The key thing here is that you’re taking a break from verbal communication.
Dr. Bhatta adds that while it’s not uncommon for silence to make you feel uncomfortable if you observe the silence for a period of time and accept it rather than resist or resent it, you can start to feel the growth and relaxing effect it can bring to both body and mind.