Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Hey there, Faith.

Faith

Hi Lois, this is an exciting time of year.

Lois                         

It really is, it’s a joy to be journeying with you in our transitions in this podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois and with so many others who are connecting with us. You know, last week we talked about shame and how to move beyond shame and what a treat when you take that full swath and full circle, which sometimes you have to do with a number of issues in life, it’s not just a one and done.

Faith                    

No, it’s not. And I think all through life there’s other things that keep cropping up, but if you deal with it, you can be free of it.

Lois                        

And by the way, if you’re enjoying our podcasts, we really hope that you’re going to share this with someone and wherever you’re listening to our podcast, let them know where they can get them and rate us and let us know what you’re thinking. Whatever platform on which you listen. So we sit in a very busy and noisy world. You might be listening to us in your car right now. Maybe you’re listening at home on your computer, wherever you are, but there’s a lot of noise filled with distraction and loud sounds. And we have a question for you. How many moments do you get to spend every day in total silence?

Faith                     

That’s a great question and it’s probably very few because of the busy – ness and because we are surrounded by being just immersed in sounds from life and horns and TV’s and news and radio and the voices. We get busy and caught up into it and we don’t really understand the importance of being quiet.

Lois                       

So we thought we would tap into that. So for the next 20 or so minutes we will not be silent. Just a heads up. But after you listen to this, if you want to be silent, we have some techniques and some practices that you might want to explore. But we want it kind of dive into what it means to take a break from all of the noise in your life. So this is Episode 71. Transition: The Impact of Silence. And silence is something that many of us simply don’t feel comfortable with, Faith. We just, it’s like an itch or something. What is it about silence that is so uncomfortable for people?

Faith                     

There can be guilt – like I shouldn’t take this time. I have a list of things I need to be doing. I don’t have time for this, that can come in. So that performance thing gets ignited and silence takes us away from performance. It takes us into reflection, but that can also be another reason why we don’t want to be silent, because as we move into that stillness, some unresolved things inside of our lives begin to come to the surface. Things that we’ve been trying to push away and ignore and pretend aren’t there, they start to come to mind – and we would rather not look at that.

Lois                       

Ouch. It’s hard. As you can probably imagine. For me, silence has never been one of my big strengths for decades. But this decade, I am choosing much more to take moments of silence because what has happened to me is when I choose silence, I listen better. Yes you do. And it’s an interesting facet that when I take the pause and move away and don’t have that sound, I am able to listen better to whatever comes my way. And I listened more before I speak where before I would really like to share my opinion with you at any given moment. I am waiting now to hear what you have to say and whether or not a response is even appropriate, but I’m willing because of this mode of silence to listen instead of to always have to speak first.

Faith                   

Oh, that is so good. And it’s so true because you not only are you listening to others better, but you’re learning to listen to yourself in a much more profound way. And silence just gives us a chance to reflect before we speak. As we practice silence and, and take those even just a few moments, like you said, it gives us pause and in pause gives us a chance to step into some wisdom and a deeper understanding.

Lois                       

In 2011 the Finnish Tourist Board actually ran this campaign and their slogan was silence please. They literally had this everywhere and then somebody put a tagline underneath it, no talking, but action. I just finished a book. I can’t believe I’m going to bring this up, but I am, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. And it is interesting because the whole book starts with silence where people are forced into silence for a certain amount of time. Now the book takes a lots of twists and turns, but there is a beauty and a benefit to just not being able to communicate with someone else. And I thought, that’s really interesting. We’re going to go more scientific than novel, but that is also a good book to check out. From a scientific perspective, silence actually helps growth of new cells in the brain to become functioning neurons. I mean, Faith, that sounds crazy that if you’re silent, there’s stuff going on inside your brain scientifically.

Faith                    

Well, if you think about sleep, there’s a lot going on in our brain to, to refresh and to renew. And our dreams are entering into a cleansing off of the day and the events in our life and the things we’re struggling with so that we can come up fresh and anew. So all of this is so important, but we’re silent for anywhere from however long you sleep, for five to eight, 10 hours. You’re silent that whole time and we need it. Um, but what we forget is that in the busy – ness of the day when everything gets stirred up again, we need some moments to be still. And so that that can awaken again. And you’re absolutely right. Those brain cells are regenerating.

Lois                      

It’s really cool. So you can add to what you get from sleep cause it turns out when your brains are resting, they are able to integrate this information into a conscious workspace. And we’ve been using the word conscious a lot lately because I think Faith and I are waking up to a lot of different things. Herman Melville a little before our time, wrote: all profound things and emotions of things are proceeded and attended by silence. That is, if you can just contemplate that and then maybe be silent for a few minutes and think about that. All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence. So, what does silence do for you?

Faith                   

Exactly. I think the biggest thing about silence is it draws us into a deeper understanding and awareness that we reflect upon. Even if you are reading a poem or a book and all when something stands out to you, way too often, I believe, we just keep moving on. We just continue reading rather than stopping and saying, why does this strike me? And then be silent for a few moments and reflect on the word or the sentence that stands out to you and just let it speak to you. And why does this have meaning? So silence brings us into a deeper, richer meaning in life.

Lois                      

It does. It really does. And silence from a scientific notion actually relieves stress and tension. And this is kind of wild. You know, loud noises. I mean when we’re having fireworks or you’re at a game, you want that loud noise cause there’s all this excitement. But they actually stress you out when they do tests with lab rats and with humans and with whatever they discovered that these loud noises, not just surprise noises, but loud noises in general make you stressed out. I mean if you’re in a workplace right now and there is a major road construction process going on right outside your window, that noise will begin to etch itself into your brain and make you tense.

Faith                   

Yes, yes. It’s an irritant. It becomes our nervous systems are not meant to be jangled over and over and over again. And so when it’s a short lived period of time, for a 2-3 hour game, we can enjoy that and have fun. But then oftentimes we have to go and have a quiet dinner and we have to come down off of that. And that’s because our bodies are saying, okay, that was enough. I need to rest now and I need to have something more still. We forget how we are made up. We are not made to be inundated. They’ve even done some studies with those who are doing jackhammers. The jaggling of just their nervous system of the vibration and the sound. It wears a person down over time.

Lois                        

You’re going to find study after study. If you look it up in 2006 there was one study in the journal, Heart, that found that two minutes of silence was actually more relaxing than listening to soft music. Now we have nothing against music. We love listening to music and that brings us a lot of joy. But complete silence, we’ll actually do more for you. In fact, it kind of changes your blood pressure. Even your circulation. So I mean silence, I don’t believe because we’re so busy that we give it enough credit for what it can do to us physically. But I find it’s a funny thing. If I’m in the car and I’m listening to the radio, or I’m listening to a podcast, if I’m trying to arrive at a destination and I’ve got something going, I have done this for my whole life and my husband has teased me about this. As I’m getting close, especially if it’s someplace I don’t know, I turn it off and he’ll look at me. Why? Why’d you turn that off? While I don’t know where I am will, so why’d you turn it off? Well, I need the space and so that I can concentrate on this map, whether it’s listening to Siri or whether it’s listening to, you know, or when I used to have to use a map to find it. But the end few moments, minutes, whatever it was, I couldn’t the noise and finding where I needed to be competed, and for some reason in my brain I could get lost. And I don’t get lost very often. I’m very, very good with directions and it has to do with the fact that I’ve always turned off the sound minutes before I arrive at a destination. It’s just a weird thing, you know?

Faith                   

It’s not weird, I do the same thing because it helps you to really concentrate and to be aware and that’s what you’re focused on. You’re absolutely right. The silence brings us into the space and time of what are we really doing here and what is it that we want to accomplish? Going back to music real quickly, I have encouraged clients listen to soft meditative music to get focus and then turn it off. And so it can bring music, the right kind of music can bring us into a focus like that, but then to move into silence, we silence it, but it helps.

Lois                      

And that’s really a good way for many of us who aren’t familiar with silence, who don’t feel comfortable with it. I mean, if any of you’ve done any reading of mystics, you know that silence is part of their everyday routine. And yet for some of us we go, oh, if I do that, something might come up or I might get so distracted and then we think our distraction is worse. What we are going to learn as we go through this is that actually those distractions will help get you to the next place. But sometimes we’re just too afraid. We’re too afraid to go there.

Faith                   

Absolutely. The other bad nemesis of silence is the fact that when we don’t do it, we go, I can’t do it. I’m no good at it. It’s impossible for me. So we say these negative things rather than saying, wait, I’m learning, I’m just learning. This is new. And so I need to step into it. So when you said a minute, two minutes, three minutes, whatever you can possibly do, and then stop. Don’t torture yourself. It’s just like try it. And then when you begin to feel the anxiety, rise and intention stop, don’t try to push through that and take a deep breath, move on, and then come back to it again.

Lois                        

Don’t go from zero to 100 right. I know. We’re not recommending that we go from absolutely no silence to going away to a silent retreat. And that’s what was so funny about this book, because that’s exactly what it was. They were like, what? Nobody told us that. So I couldn’t do that. But doing it in little portions, I can make that work. And in fact daydreaming and meditating is really part of this when we give ourselves room to think like this. We had the privilege last month of attending a conference with Richard Rohr and one of the things he did at the very beginning, we were all seated at tables and there were several thousand people and seated at tables of 10, and we had to begin with three minutes of silence. Now for some of us who don’t practice silence, that was a very long three minutes and by the end of our time together at four days we were up to 10 minutes and it’s just the way it was. But it was so interesting how to start with just that little piece, Faith, because there is something about noise that numbs some pain for some of us who are working through issues. That if it’s too quiet, it’s too much because then I’m, then I’m just with my thoughts, I’m just with me and that’s too much. And so I want to watch something or listen to something, but to sit quietly and to have a little direction too, a little guiding as to what to kind of place your thoughts on was helpful. But boy, those first three minutes, the very first time, I was shocked at where I ended up at the end of that three minutes.

Faith                    

Oh, I know. I mean, and it’s amazing how we didn’t even know, you know, that they were extending the time, but it all felt so good. And just to have that place to let go and just to be, and we are afraid of that, of just being, because sometimes we think our being is not enough and that it’s, there’s gotta be more to this. I cannot say this enough because I’ve been there. I remember a time with my husband and when we were dating, he was so much into stillness and, and being able to do it so well, and we were just sitting on the couch and he said, well, let’s just be quiet for awhile. And I was quiet for maybe about a minute and a half and this eruption of a whole bunch of stuff started surfacing and I panicked. I literally had a panic attack and that was a clue. Oh my goodness, something hasn’t been dealt with. And so in the silence we think something like that could grab us and it’s like, no. Fortunately, you know, I knew it was a message and I went and I did the work around it, but I didn’t know it was there. But in the stillness it began to emerge. So don’t fear it, embrace it and go, this is not a bad thing. This is something that’s been hidden and the silence has brought it into revelation. Now I can deal with it and you can be free.

Lois                      

So we would encourage you. And like I say, not right now, but in a few minutes. When we finish block three minutes today, just look at three minutes. You can count off the seconds if that’s what you need. But think about three minutes with no connection. You could use this time of silence to walk in nature. So, but wherever you need to be, where you don’t have any connection, any stimulus from the outside world that is trying to talk to you by a person or on your headphones or social media, however you can do it. Start with three minutes. And see what happens when you just give yourself to silence and whether or not you’re able to think more deeply and more creatively because that’s the goal. Or if nothing else, you’re able to listen better because you’ve given that space. And if you can try three minutes today, when you can master that and not feel like you’re going to have a panic attack because you might the first time, I mean, I think many people sitting in that room, the first time we did three minutes, it was like, oh my goodness. And by the end when we were doing 10 minutes, it was a joke like, oh my goodness, we all just sat here. We really did. And we made it through. But maybe then the following day you could try five minutes and then take a break and talk all you want for the next couple of days and then extend it. But each day if you made one minute increment extensions and and see what happens and don’t journal, by the way, while you’re being silent. Really use this time to seriously be silent. If closing your eyes is great, do that. If not, look up – whatever you need, but see what happens with that silence.

Faith                    

And for those that may have a background of saying, well, silence isn’t good. You can get into danger if you are silent. I really challenge that because of all the religious faiths have encouraged silence. I mean even the Christian faith, which sometimes struggles sometimes with silence, there’s different denominations that struggle with it, but the reality is it’s like be still. Be still. Be still and so wow. Just be still. That’s all it is. Just be still and it opens up your heart and your mind and your body to what there is out there. It’s so much more is out there of creation and our life and what we can face and what we can overcome. It comes in stillness.

Lois                      

And what I love about just being still is it’s okay to daydream. I think what I was beating my head, self over the head with, was if I’m silent, then I have to be thinking a certain thing. It’s something really virtuous or how I’m going to save the world or you know, I mean something like that. Instead, when I daydream during that time, which is what I did by the way, cause for three minutes and I wasn’t used to it. Suddenly as I started repeating through these next four days, I started to connect some dots like, oh, I was silent here and I was thinking about this, then I was and this came up again and this came up again. And you can start seeing where you go because our final point about silences, it starts to offer you clarity just because you’re there. And those silly daydreams that I looked at as distractions from me being able to appreciate real silence – they were the tool to get me where I needed to be. And Faith, that was a little surprising because I thought that was wrong. I shouldn’t be daydreaming. I should be, you know, focused on this, but it opened a different part of my thinking, but I was not in control of.

Faith                 

That’s really good. You are such a creative that of course you’re going to daydream, you’re going to see it more visually and more experientially that way, as do I. That’s kind of how I made up too. For other people, it will go into kind of a nothingness of just real deep, deep silence, and they even call it kind of a velvety blackness that you enter into, but it’s like, you know, it’s good. It’s not dark, doesn’t mean dark in a negative way. We’re all made up differently and your experiences are going to be different, but it all brings clarity. No matter what your experience is, you’re going to get a clarification more about who you are, your life, where you’re headed, and even some conclusions to ideas that we have in being a daydreamer – will come to us, right? And we’ll get, oh my goodness, there it is. I have the answer.

Lois                       

Oftentimes you’ve heard it said, let me sleep on it because you have so much clarity when you wake up in the morning. Well, what we’re learning about the impact of silence, you can get these boosts during the day, right? You can get these bite sized boosts where if you slow down long enough, some clarity might come to you and you don’t have to sleep for six or eight hours. You can just close your eyes for three minutes, right? I mean, my parents were those kinds of people for years when they were working, they would take 10 minute naps. It didn’t matter what, and they needed that refreshment time. So they would put a timer on. They weren’t going to sleep any longer. I mean later, maybe they slept longer, but early on, I still remember the 10 minute timer because it was the kitchen timer. You remember that one that you turned all the way to the right and it’d be sitting there. I couldn’t sleep with that. But anyhow, but they would lie down and there was something about that regeneration that happens, right? And that’s probably how they could cope with six kids.

Faith                

They needed it, they needed it.

Lois                        

It’s kind of a nap. Usually in 10 minutes, you’re not falling asleep, but there’s something that happens that is restorative. So we’re encouraging you to be silent, to relax, take a nap. But all of those things for the reason of bringing you back into life with more to life and with a clarity that gives you a lot of joy.

Faith                  

And one little thing that everybody, I bet you can relate to, is why do your best ideas come to you in the shower? It’s because you’re quiet. There you go. You’re not distracted by a lot of different things. And the water is very soothing and relaxing. And sometimes our greatest and best ideas or some ingenious thought comes to mind when we’re in the shower.

Lois                       

Oh, I really liked that. So don’t sing in the shower, Lois . So silence is often the best strategy, not only for ourselves, but it’s for others. Think about how you are the blessing people around you because you’ll listen better and you will feel more energized after a period of silence.

Faith                

Silence is golden on many levels, our health and our brain and our relationships and ourselves.

Lois                     

We encourage you to find time for silence in your life. Your brain, if no one else, your brain will thank you.

Faith                    

Please share this podcast with someone else who needs a break.

Lois                       

And join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Trauma.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.