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Silence is a Great Peacemaker

December 26, 2013

Kent Shiraishi, photographer

“Silence is a great peacemaker” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For the ancients winter and the passing of the old year signaled a time to slow down, a time for quiet reflection.  Those days are clearly over. In fact, the reality of modern life is that this time of the year represents for many, the busiest of the year.  The list of year-end to-dos seems to get larger every year.

Another “casualty” of modern life is quiet.

Amidst the cacophony of traffic, city noise, giant screen TVs, digital devices and the increasing noise pollution in our workplaces, quiet is becoming a precious commodity in the 21st century.

So rare is real silence that many people cannot even tolerate it. The void of silence must be filled with sound to keep ourselves from ourselves.

Research shows that chronic lack of quiet can interfere with sleep, limit learning, trigger impatience and suppress immunity.

Taking in the advice of doctors, neuroscientists, acoustic engineers, monks, educators and aggrieved citizens, George Prochnik, author of  In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise, writes,  “We’re never going to make progress toward creating a quieter world until we learn to understand our secret love affair with noise. Part of what we have to recognize is that noise is a compelling stimulant. This noise-high can be addictive and adding your own din into the mix can become a way of exerting control. Stepping back from all the stimulation is not easy, but it can be done.”

So as we bring this year to a close, consider stopping the action and asking yourself:

“How much quiet time exists now  in my life?”

“What is the value of quiet in my life?”

“How much quiet time do I want in my life?”

There is a healing power in the quiet.  Silence can reveal an abundance of riches if we give it a chance to do its work.

An air of quiet silence

Is blowing

All over


All around.

I wish

It can blow

Like this…

Forever and ever

And let me enjoy

A wonderful life


I can give shape

To my imagination

And dreams

And can open doors

For happiness

Before it even knocks

On my door.

Seema Chowdhury, Author

At this time of year I always return to the words of the late poet, John O’Donohue whose lyrical writings often spoke of the power of silence to ease the mind, soothe the heart and restore the body.   The end of the year is a perfect time to ease our grip on tasks and achieving outcomes and as John wrote, “As the desire that drove you has relinquished, there is nothing to do now but rest and patiently learn to receive the self.”

May the last days of the old year be gentle, restorative and filled with peace…….

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, subscribe, share, like and tweet this article. It’s appreciated.

Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants

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This article is derived from two earlier posts you may like: The Power  of Quiet and Silence & a Blessing for One Who is Exhausted  Also here is a reading from the exquisite work of John O’Donohue – his poem Beannacht

photo: Kent Shiraishi 


5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2013 1:50 pm

    Hi Louise: Great post. I am fascinated by silence, and why I am so drawn to it. Silence brings me solace in every day life, yet I am also fascinated why some people avoid it so vehemently. p.s. Louise – I tried to tweet you but I keep getting an “error” message for your twitter name (not sure what is wrong). Just wanted to let you know. Happy New Year!

    • December 28, 2013 8:51 am

      Hi Terry – always good to hear from you.

      I wrote about silence again because this often feels like the season for it, yet I too, am drawn to more and more opportunities for silence – regardless of the time of year. I experience a real healing power in silence and I believe the more we allow it, the more comforting it becomes.
      I know many people who can’t tolerate it. There are the surface reasons – and the deeper ones. Some is just the habit of needing stimulation, like people who turn on the TV the moment they come home alone. Silence draws us closer into ourselves and for many, that is uncomfortable.
      I also find that the more we engage in any kind of mindfulness practice, the “friendlier” periods of silence are.

      Wishing you a lovely New Year!

  2. December 29, 2013 7:23 pm

    Thanks for your post. I’m just going through a period of silence and in to one of “noise reduction” so your post totally resonates with me🙂 All the best for the new year… May it be quieter than the last…

    • January 2, 2014 11:15 am

      Hi and thanks for your comment. I like the idea of periods of at least – noise reduction – and plan to inject them into every day. Even the smallest choices can make that possible.

      As for the wider world – I have a feeling “14 will be even louder than last year. All the more reason to develop zones of quiet.



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