The Power of Silent Practice

The greatest gift of silence is that it’s always accessible. Whether you’re a seasoned meditator or new to the practice, you can tap into silence to bring yourself to deeper levels of self-awareness. Below are some of the key benefits and how to access silence in your mediation practice.
David Gandelman is a spiritual teacher, author, and coach.
David Gandelman is a spiritual teacher, author, and coach.

Silence is so powerful, yet so rare today.

In a world surrounded by noise—traffic, social media, barking dogs, cell phones, sirens, planes and helicopters, leaf blowers and lawnmowers—it can be challenging to find true quiet. Yet, the greatest gift of silence is that it’s not only always accessible, it is one of the most profound channels to access our deeper selves and connect with all of existence.

When is the last time you sat in true silence with a friend or family member, or even yourself? It’s rare to allow silence to surface when we’re with our loved ones. Some people even find it awkward. We often feel compelled by an urge to fill the silence with conversation or noise.

As a longtime student of meditation, I’ve sat for many silent retreats. Sometimes weeks of straight silence where no talking was allowed. It was a hell of a challenge. And that was the point. I’ve found that through the challenge and deep pain that can often surface in long bouts of silence, there’s always a sense of profound freedom and expansiveness. When you sit in silence long enough, a deep inner peace and sense of bliss can begin to emerge. It’s as if the silence allows space for the soul to open up, and in its own way.

Whether you’re a seasoned meditator or new to the practice, you can tap into silence to bring yourself to deeper levels of self-awareness. Below are some of the key benefits silence can bring to our meditation practice.

The Benefits of Practicing Silence

1. Through silence, we come to know ourselves at a deeper level

When we consciously choose to turn off the noise, whether external or in the mind, we access a place that’s always there and always accessible, but that we may not often visit. This calm and quiet place is a part of who we are. And, in this place we can connect with our emotional being, our physical being and the more subtle aspects of our human and spiritual nature.

2. When we sit in silence, life reveals itself to us

Because we’re not making noise we find ourselves paying close attention to what’s actually happening: to nature, the temperature, our senses and to the flow of life coursing all around us. There is always wonder and magic to tap into.

3. Silence is a portal to connection

Everyone we know can rest in silence if they so desire. In fact, people often say they know someone is a true friend if they can be quiet with them and still feel comfortable. Sitting in silence with your good friends, your romantic partner, or other loved ones can help you bond and develop deeper connections.

4. Silence is an antidote to noise pollution

Noise pollution negatively affects all living creatures, including us humans. Noise pollution includes physical noises like traffic, trucks, printers and phone calls. Today, noise also includes our technological lives, like app-notifications, emails, text messages and alarms. Choosing to take conscious moments of silence throughout our day and in our practice helps us to stave off and counteract the damaging effects of noise that constantly surrounds us.

Read more: In this article, Zen priest and teacher Seiso Paul Cooper examines the relationship of sounds and silence.

Silence And Anxiety

During COVID, many of us were forced to confront our lives without our normal diversions: no dance parties, groups of friends talking late into the night, or even visits with our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. For many of us, this also meant no dating. We found ourselves confronted with more silence than we’d ever experienced before, and while some of us welcomed things quieting down, many of us were uncomfortable and even anxious with our newfound silence.

Why can silence provoke anxiety?

For many of us who live in urban areas, we’re simply not used to silence. So first off, it’s unfamiliar. Beyond that, as I have often experienced on silent retreats, silence opens up a deeper connection with the self. When we sit in silence with our pain and conflict, there’s nothing left to distract us. We have to face our discomfort in the moment. In this way, silence is both a balm for personal healing and transforming our lives. Arriving at these moments is a gift and opportunity, even if they can be challenging to sit with.

Simple Ways To Access The Power Of Silence In Meditation

David Gandelman created a 7-day course to introduce the practice of silence. Listen to this course intro to find out more:

  1. Course Introduction: 7 Days Of Silence David Gandelman 2:19

Right when you sit down to meditate, no matter what your practice or technique is, recognize that silence is always present the way air is present in the atmosphere. You don’t have to find silence so much as realize you are sitting in it.

  • Check the energetic weather. If your internal space had an atmosphere in this moment, is it cloudy with thought? Is a storm brewing, a tornado of emotion perhaps? Is creative lightning striking, or are there clear calm skies today? No matter what the weather is, can you appreciate it, sit still and allow it to be? The weather always changes and passes, but what remains unchanged is the sky in which the weather forms.
  • Notice that you don’t need to earn silence or be good enough to receive it. You also don’t need to try to control your internal weather to achieve a state of silence. Almost every meditator knocks into the idea that enlightenment happens from good behavior, proper technique or hard work, and to be blessed with inner peace you must do something to earn it. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, the best thing you can do to find silence is nothing at all. You’re tapping into an aware and peaceful nothingness.
  • Lastly, allow silence to fill you with wisdom and healing. Silence can be a healing balm if applied correctly. All of your internal noise and criticism, when it touches silence can transform through the space granted by silence. Like a storm, our problems and difficult  emotions can seem large and loud, but when we consider them in the context of the whole sky and allow them to exist without judgement, we see them pass without internal conflict. In meditation we become the sky.

7 days of silent meditation

The greatest gift of silence is that it’s always accessible. There is an ocean of silence always present below the distractions and noise, and we can tap into it at any time we need. And, silence can help you transform yourself, to heal your wounds and connect more deeply with the people around you.

Sit down. Get still. Find your silence. Find its power. And find its healing.

Meditation. Free.