The Benefits of Silence for Body and Mind

Television. Radio. YouTube. Podcasts. Ringing phones. The ping of incoming emails and texts. Conversations with coworkers, family, and friends. Lawnmowers. Garbage trucks. Airplanes overhead. We live in a world of perpetual sound.

But at what cost? A study by the World Health Organization and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre concluded that a steady dose of noise pollution could lead to higher blood pressure and fatal heart attacks, while another found high rates of cholesterol and hypertension in individuals regularly exposed to loud noises at work.

In addition, the steady stream of auditory stimuli keeps our focus on the external world and makes it harder for us to turn our attention inward. In contrast, taking time to be silent—whether in meditation, in the car, or lounging in a hot bath after a long day—offers a bevy of benefits for body and mind. Here are a few.

Health and Wellness

Just as noise triggers a range of detrimental effects on the body’s systems, silence can help heal those challenges. Studies show that silence can actually stimulate new cell growth in the brain, improve memory, and release tension in the brain and body. In fact, a study in the journal Heart concluded that two minutes of silence is more effective in relieving physical tension than listening to relaxing music. Moreover, a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that spending some time each day in silence, specifically in mindfulness meditation, reduced insomnia and fatigue in older adults.


When we take time to be silent, opportunities to get to know ourselves multiply. “Generally, when you allow some time for silence, you can be more aware of the subtle details of experience,” explains Steven Leonard, Lead Faculty member at Kripalu. “It’s common to be constantly moving and shifting awareness from one thing to another, but then you’re just on the surface of your experience. When we’re only on the surface of experience, we tend to be pushed and pulled by our most unconscious patterns. The most beneficial benefit of silence is that it helps you get to know yourself in a more intimate and satisfying way.”

Enhanced Creativity

Silence opens the door for us to daydream, fantasize, and imagine more easily than when we’re overloaded with sensory input. Myriad streams of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and memories are more likely to emerge when we disengage from external stimuli. We may find solutions to problems we’ve been grappling with for a while, or we may feel inspired to create something new.

Better Relationships

How often, in a conversation, are you waiting for your turn to talk rather than really listening to what the other person is saying? Learning to be comfortable with silence trains us to focus on the people in front of us, so we can really absorb what a friend, colleague, or partner is saying before jumping in with our own thoughts. We may see that other person in a way we haven’t before. When we consciously practice silence and deep listening in our relationships—even just for moments here and there—we may feel more compassion and empathy for the people in our lives.


Reflecting on our experiences and what they might be teaching us or mirroring to us is another benefit of dropping into quiet. Silent Breakfast at Kripalu encourages inner stillness, as guests enjoy the first meal of the day without the distraction of conversation. “After taking a yoga class in the morning,” Steven notes, “many people feel a heightened sense of energy, aliveness, or contentment. One of the reasons for Silent Breakfast is for individuals to extend their yoga beyond the mat and reflect on the experiences and insights that may have come from their practice. It’s also just nice to start the day in a quiet and calm way, without feeling the need to talk and chew at the same time.”


When we put a pause on auditory stimulation, it’s easier to hear our intuition—to become acquainted with the still, small voice inside that’s always whispering to us but that we can’t hear when our ears are tuned outside us. “There’s a Zen poem that says, ‘The truth is so clear that it’s hard to see,’” Steven says, noting silence’s ability to help us tap into our wisdom wells. “Practicing silence allows us to see the truth that’s sometimes clouded by conversation, technology, and noise.”

Simply Being

Finally, one of the most enjoyable benefits of silence is that it offers us the opportunity to put our endless to-do lists on hold and just be. “Silence feels like the most honest and natural version of myself, because I’m not trying to do or be anything in particular,” Steven concludes. “Developing that ability makes it possible for me to feel at home in the world, wherever I am.”