Intermittent fasting and intermittent silence are mirror images. One involves withdrawing from sustenance for a significant period of time to accomplish a goal, whether it’s better health, spiritual gain or lodging a protest.
Intermittent silence is about withdrawing your own output from speech, and often from visual stimuli, for periods as brief as 10 minutes. The goal is rest and self-knowledge.
Also known as “intentional silence,” this practice differs from most forms of meditation and mindfulness by not using a focal point such as a mantra or breathing pattern.
Most simplistically, it’s about not speaking or communicating in any way. It can be practiced by sitting down in a quiet place and closing your eyes, but also works when you’re first waking up, preparing a meal or going for a walk.
The objective is to stop the chatter in your mind that results from talking and listening to others, whether in verbal or electronic form. Resting your brain for a couple of minutes while listening to music has been shown to lower heart rate, and similar breaks between conversations can be expected to provide similar results.
You want to conserve mental energy during intermittent silences. Instead of giving or receiving information, you quietly observe your own thoughts or nothing at all.
Taking breaks from otherwise nonstop communication can also improve your communication when you resume it. It may help you to consider what you want to accomplish by speaking, writing or texting. Inserting that brief pause may make the difference between saying something helpful or unintentionally harmful.
Intermittent silence can even be a worthwhile activity for couples or friends to engage in together. Stripping away speech can help you learn how to better pick up on nonverbal cues and other pleasures that come with what’s actually a very intimate exercise.
Intermittent silence isn’t for everyone. It does appeal to some people who find guided meditation too distracting or otherwise unappealing. If this is you, you should give it a try to realize some of the same benefits.