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Natural Awakenings

Silence Is Golden: Five Ways to Find Healing Moments

Nov 01, 2009 02:00AM ● By Janet Luhrs

Here’s the big idea: Noise is bad for you. During my career as a pioneer in the simplicity movement, I have taken note of numerous studies that link unwanted sound to increased levels of stress. Even low-level noise has been associated with increased aggression and other mental health problems, as well as poor sleep, high blood pressure and heart disease. A few of the reporting organizations include Cornell University, the Acoustical Society of America and the World Health Organization.

The following tips for increasing moments of silence in daily life will help us all feel better and live healthier:

Start each day with silence. Before running headlong into another day, do something relaxing for 12 minutes upon waking. It may be meditating, stretching or reading inspirational literature. According to the National Institutes of Health, our cortisol levels (“the stress hormone” produced by the adrenal glands) are highest between 6 and 8 o’clock in the morning, when we first get out of bed. Most people have coffee and turn on the news. That’s the worst thing we can do. Studies have shown that only 12 minutes of quiet in the morning can bring down the stress-hormone levels, and get you off to a better start that will last all day.

Eat at a table, without watching television or reading. Mindful eating helps us to enjoy our food more, prevents overeating because we are tuned into our body’s satiety signals, and allows the body to metabolize food more efficiently.

Try driving in silence. Because there is so much noise that we can’t control, find small ways to create silence that you can control. The car is a wonderful place to get in touch with your thoughts and just be with yourself. Silence is rejuvenating.

Create a silence retreat at home. Set aside an evening at home with no talking. Turn the phone ringer off and don’t answer it; turn off the television. Don’t run any extra machines. Try to have the family do this together, or trade nights with a partner in taking the kids out to dinner and a movie.

Practice silent exercise. Exercise without iPod, magazines or video. If possible, exercise outdoors. Silence helps us pay attention to everything the body is doing—breathing, muscle function and posture. Silence helps us listen to the helpful signals our body is giving—to slow down, go faster or straighten up.

Janet Luhrs is the international bestselling author of
The Simple Living Guide and guides people toward simpler, more enjoyable lives through her Simplicity Series Seminars, at

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