by Cyndi Rai

Take a moment to visualize 24 solid hours in absolute silence and solitude. No smartphone. No social media. No distractions. According to research, this experience could send some individuals into severe anxiety and withdrawal-like symptoms. For others, it could be a silent dream come true.

It’s only when we allow our minds to be silent that we realize how frenetically busy they usually are. We are consumed by a seemingly endless barrage of anxieties every waking second, hooked on the dopamine hits of our phone, haunted by background memories we never really deal with.

People are turning to silent retreats and meditation as a way of detoxing our minds from the “busy-ness” of modern life, and science is increasingly backing them up. Consider these scientifically proven benefits.

Meditation strengthens brain function: Studies have found that meditation can cause structural changes in areas of the brain important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing, and that two hours of silence and solitude can create new cells in the hippocampus region of the brain, which controls memory and spatial cognition.

Meditation improves the immune system and lessens pain: Studies in multiple scientific journals have found that meditation reduces inflammation at the cellular level, improves immune function and can reduce pain by as much as 40 percent.

Meditation spices up our social life: Solitary meditation can actually increase social connection and emotional intelligence, making us feel more compassionate and less lonely.

Our scientific understanding of the effects of meditation is still unfolding, but it is clear that we can all benefit from putting down the phone to enjoy the silence every once in a while.

Cyndi Rai is a certified Chopra Center meditation instructor and owner of 7Roots and Energy Massage and Reflexology, located at 23801 E. Appleway Ave., Ste.. 220, in Liberty Lake. For more information, call 509-979-2223 or visit 7RootsLife.com.