Today's world is a busy place.
For many, it can often feel like there's no space for silence. I mean, there does seem to be no end to the expectation that we are required to be responding to someone, or something or simply to be saying something new - and that may be answering a text or an email, a tweet, commenting on a post, answering our children, or even having a discussion on the telephone.
I'm here to tell you that Eureka Springs is calling you for your dose of silence . . .
Eureka Springs, nestled in the Northwest corner of The Natural State (Arkansas) will deliver a healthy dose of silence to you, if that is the medicine that you need.
Founded and named on July 4, 1879, The City of Eureka Springs, Arkansas has welcomed visitors for decades. Although our little mountain town is known today for our incredible architecture, arts/events, history, antiques & shopping, as well as the great outdoors, the original draw was simply - natural spring water. As the story is often told . . . early Native American tribes believed that the cold mountain spring water that flows through these hills could cure ailments of all kinds, and for this reason all that surrounded was deemed sacred. It was not long after the discovery of the healing water when health-seekers deemed these hills to be full of miracle cures and flocked to the area by the thousands during Victorian times, thus creating this stylish mountain retreat that you may still come to experience, even today.
Here, we remain perfectly perched in these beautiful Ozarks surrounded by the grand, green curves of Mother Nature. Eureka Springs will give you that healthy dose of silence.
What can we learn from silence?
One of the reasons I personally remain interested in silence and in what can and can't be said brings me back to one of those awkward years in junior high school. I just turned a teenager and was coming into my own. There was a time when I didn't really talk to people at school or outside of my family. Of course, I would answer direct questions if a teacher asked them of me or I would read out loud in the classroom but the kind of communication that makes us human beings -- spontaneous conversation, sharing jokes, was something that I wasn't able to do well (yet!) and it had a huge impact on me and was really formative in terms of how I related to people both professionally and personally, even today.
So what's so great about silence ?
In one study involving mice, silence was shown to promote the growth of brain cells in the part of the brain responsible for memory related to the senses. Scientists played mice a selection of sounds including baby mouse cries, white noise and silence and observed that during silence there was cell growth in the Hippocampus.
Another study looked at the impact of listening to music on the body and the researchers found that if silence was inserted into a track of music the blood pressure dropped the heart rate reduced and the subject relaxed much more than when listening to a relaxing piece of continuous music.
This compelling part to this particular study was that this only happened when the silence was inserted in the middle of the tune itself. Interestingly, it didn't have any impact if silence was at the beginning or end of the music.
So, there's something about silence that comes in the middle of noise that's particularly beneficial. This may explain the magical tug Eureka Springs tends to have on big city dwellers. For example: Dallas is noisy, visiting Eureka for a weekend brings nature, silence and peace, then, upon return - Dallas is noisy again.
Silence can also enable people to actually say and experience things that they've never been able to say before.
Let's reference www.samaritans.org. This support service was started in the early 1950s by Vicar Chad Varah. He was inspired to set up the samaritans as he didn't want people to feel that there were things that they couldn't talk about; particularly things that made them feel shame.
Throughout his career Chad had offered counselling to his parishioners, and wanted to do something more specific to help people that were contemplating suicide.
His inspiration came when he had to conduct the funeral of a young girl who had taken her own life. The reason that she took her own life was that she had started her periods and thought she contracted some terrible disease and was dying. She was deeply ashamed of what was happening to her and had no one to talk to about it it was this that inspired him to set up the samaritans.
Today, the samaritans have around 22,000 volunteers and more than 200 branches and locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Every 10 seconds, Samaritans responds to a call for help. Their 24-hour listening service has come to be what Chad first envisioned – and more. They believe that you should be able to sit with someone no matter what they're going through without feeling the need to answer back or offer solutions or problem solve. Simply be there for them in a loving, human, act of support as they silently go through their own experience knowing deep in their heart - they are not alone.
If our normal conversations could involve a little bit more silence like that, the world may be a happier place.
Silence in religion
At the heart of most major world religions silence is really highly valued and conversation can be seen as something that gets in the way of our experiences. If you strip away all of that language, you're left with a deeper understanding of your own experiences in the world and your connection to other people.
As a resident in Eureka Springs, life here is truly a beautiful balance. A daily dance with the silence brought forth by Mother Nature juxtaposed against the seasonal celebrations that liven the human experience once again.
This community is well connected and people here take pride in drawing you closer, connecting you to yourself and those around you.
Eureka Springs is a small American town and in our hearts, Eurekans are samaritans. No one should ever feel like they are alone in this world and the strong community of Eureka Springs reminds us of that.
There is power in connection even it means you're just going to give a neighbor the gift of your time as you sit with them, over delicious, locally brewed beer at Gotahold, in lovely silence -- together. (note: sitting across from each other on your cell phones is not the same.)
Just as our local brewery professionals explain, "When we arrived in Eureka Springs, people would ask what brought us to town. We’d share that we came to open a brewery. We’d then ask them the same question. The third time we heard the response, “This place just got a hold of us.”
Something clicks for everyone here and as this holiday season brings us all the feels: joy, peace, love, gratitude, and, of course, Silent Nights - we encourage you to pause on your busy life and take a moment for yourself. Start planning trips now for your spring, summer and fall in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Book your cottage, pack your bags, bring your bathing suit but leave the cell phone at home and just make the trip.
Your truest Silent Nights await you right here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. ❤️
Go on ... retreat yourself.
Local Tip: While Eureka Springs is open year-round, January is recommended for an escape into wintry silence. You know, the kind of silence where the only thing you hear is the lightly falling snow hitting the ground around you as you sip your wine in the hot tub. Note: some businesses post "winter hours" so be sure to check ahead in your planning.