When I first proposed the idea of an article on silence, it began as a study of my own recent experiences, alongside the absolute joy of shared silence in the serene Park City mountains. Little did I know it would soon become so relevant to an entire world in quarantine.
The Dangers of Too Much Noise
Research abounds on the detrimental effects of excessive noise. Florence Nightingale, the 19th century British nurse and social activist, once said, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.” Many years later, research began linking loud and continuous noise to an increased release of stress hormones, heart disease, sleep loss, high blood pressure, tinnitus and many other issues.
Silence Can Be Shockingly Scary
A 2014 report from psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities addressed just how hard it can be to sit in silence. The results of their study were shocking. Literally.
Twelve of 18 male and six of 24 female college students chose to self-administer an electric shock rather than simply being alone with their thoughts. Even more astonishing, the periods in which they were asked to merely sit in silence ranged from only six to 15 minutes. It’s also worth noting that all of these students had previously tested positive that they would pay to avoid these same non-life-threatening, but still painful, shocks just earlier that day.
Silence May Grow New Brain Cells
In 2013, a Duke biologist discovered a surprising result: silence prompted brains to regenerate. A team of scientists’ original hypothesis was that listening to the calls of baby mice would spur the growth of more brain cells in adult mice. Th is study, published in Brain, Structure and Function, showed that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day, they formed new cells in the brain’s hippocampus, the region associated with memory, emotion and learning.
The New York Times recently reported that silent meditation retreats are one of the fastest-growing trends in travel. The Finnish Tourist Board certainly understands the value of silence. Several years ago, they began their successful marketing campaign promoting Finland’s wealth of silence as its most valuable resource with the slogan, “Silence, Please.”
Finding Silence and Rejuvenation in Park City
Although we usually associate silence with an absence of sound, the word actually comes from the Latin root “silens,” meaning “to be still, quiet, or at rest.” Parkites, as well as our beloved visitors, are particularly blessed with an abundance of natural beauty intermingled with plenty of available silence.
Katrina Long with Summit Spa and Float describes one of her favorite spots for silence, “When I’m not at work, spending time together with family is paramount for me and relaxing together is crucial. Our family really enjoys spending time at Jordanelle State Park, whether it’s fishing, boating, or just packing a picnic and spending time on the lake. It’s always so peaceful there and the beauty of the mountains surrounding the reservoir is simply breathtaking. It’s a great place for us all to check out of our daily lives, be in nature and reset ourselves for the week ahead.”
Summit Spa and Float offers a multitude of options to relax, repair and restore including massage, skincare services and more. One of their unique offerings is floating, an amazing zero-gravity experience in a sensory deprivation tub with luxurious bath salts.
Long reveals her favorite spa treatment: “Hands down floating is my favorite way to decompress and relax. From the moment the experience begins until it ends, it’s a way to train your brain to disconnect from the digital world that constantly bombards our minds. It took a few floats to get my body to fully engage in the float experience, but now when I go into the pod, shut the pod lid, and lay back and float effortlessly in the warm water, my mind slowly shuts everything out. Sometimes the session results in a deep sleep; other times, my brain sorts through files and ideas and is active. Each time I emerge from the pod, my body feels rejuvenated, relaxed and my mind at ease. There’s simply nothing like it!”
Cindy Hallows with Haum Meditation is also grateful for the beauty and tranquility Park City has to offer: “My favorite place to gain solitude and stillness is on the backside of Wasatch State Park in an aspen grove where I have a view of Deer Creek Reservoir and the backside of Timpanogos Mountain. This is where I go to gather my thoughts and tune into nature within.”
I simply love the wisdom in a quote found on their website, “Meditation: Because some questions can’t be answered by Google.” Haum Meditation and Yoga Studio provide numerous styles of private and group guided meditation and yoga classes covering all major traditions. They even offer meditation classes at the workplace.
“A great class for anyone, no matter experience level, is the Guided Meditation offering at Haum Meditation. This class offers guidance in many styles and traditions, so it’s a great way to learn a lot about different kinds of meditation,” said Hallows. “Yoga Nidra is also my favorite, as it offers a deep sense of rejuvenation, restoration and healing. One hour of Yoga Nidra is as benefi cial as four hours of deep REM sleep.”
At Elements Massage, they recommend monthly massage memberships to provide the optimum health benefits and help reduce everyday stress. It’s a month-to-month membership that grants each client one massage session per month at a discounted rate.
Serenity Spa invites visitors to indulge, relax and rejuvenate at their full-service mountain retreat day spa offering a full range of services and products. Nestled next to the spa is Yoga Kula Project, their boutique yoga studio with group and private classes, as well as hot power yoga.
Guests at the Zermatt Spa can find inspiration in a traditional European spa experience with services designed to “promote soulful relaxation and well-being.” Surrounded by Swiss-style architecture in the heart of the stunning Midway valley, guests may also look forward to sacred silence as a result of an indulgent mouthful—from their authentic European bakery. A housemade pastry, gelato or espresso at their coffee haus can also bring blissful regeneration.
Make Silence Golden Again
In a seemingly new and unfamiliar world, filled with new health and social challenges, along with hopeful possibilities for change, let’s not waste another quiet moment. Just remember Albert Einstein’s shrewd observation: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”