How often do you find time to be quiet?

Today is April 3 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you find time to be quiet?”

Researchers in the Harvard Business Review published an article "The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time” and noted the importance of getting beyond the noise. Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead.

For example, Duke Medical School’s Imke Kirste recently found that silence is associated with the development of new cells in the hippocampus, the key brain region associated with learning and memory. But cultivating silence isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or social media. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer. Silence has actually played an important role for many successful people throughout history.

Author JK Rowling, biographer Walter Isaacson, and psychiatrist Carl Jung have all had disciplined practices for managing the information flow and cultivating periods of deep silence. Ray Dalio, Bill George, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan have also described structured periods of silence as important factors in their success.

This kind of silence is about resting the mental reflexes that habitually protect a reputation or promote a point of view. It’s about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say. Noora Vikman, a Finnish ethnomusicologist who lives in the eastern part of Finland, an area blanketed with quiet lakes and forests knows firsthand the value of silence.


In a remote and quiet place, Vikman says, she discovers thoughts and feelings that aren’t audible in her busy daily life. “If you want to know yourself you have to be with yourself, and discuss with yourself, be able to talk with yourself.”

In the poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798,” William Wordsworth noted the benefit of silence centuries earlier when he wrote

“While with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony,

and the deep power of joy,

we see into the life of things.”

How often do you find time to be quiet in order to see into the life of things?