Study: Many would rather shock themselves than to sit in silence

sittting in pain

Here is some disturbing news from the Western front: many people can barely tolerate to be alone with themselves. At least those were the findings in a series of research studies done by Harvard and the University of Virginia. In one case, subjects had preferred to give themselves an electric shock break to tolerate the silence of having to sit for 15 minutes without any form of stimulation.

Should this be alarming? Some may argue that this is the consequence of the electronic age. Even I have a hard time not checking my WordPress stats a few free moments in the day. But on a deeper level, this means that many people are going the exact opposite direction to knowing their true selves, which is the lofty aspiration set out in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

First we must ask what the value is in sitting alone without interruption. Most of my regular readers would gasp at that question, but for the lay person in the Western world, this is a perplexing question. As a yoga teacher, I have to “sell” the idea that sitting for prolonged periods is the only way one can get to “know” themselves truly.

Yoga practice cultivates not only the ability to be alone with yourself for prolonged periods, it makes it so you have a hard time tolerating that which keeps you away from that silence, then transcends that “intolerance” into being peaceful and silent inside no matter what the world throws at you.

My mentoring teacher took this picture during her last trip to India. She said this man sits here daily for hours on end and “disappears” into the bench. This man has not only embraced his silence, he may have even attained the Siddhi of turning himself invisible!

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 3.31.53 PM

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7 thoughts on “Study: Many would rather shock themselves than to sit in silence

  1. musingsimplicity

    I recently read about this study as well and also referred to it in my last blog post. Such interesting but unfortunate results. I think some people are trying to avoid pain…regret, grief, boredom or stagnation. Rather than feeling and healing these things, they suppress them. I wish I could remember who said “In order to keep from feeling bad, people settle for feeling mediocre”

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks for your response. We don’t really value alone time in our culture as much as we ought to. People have a difficult time facing themselves as a result.

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  2. 11315miles

    People really need to learn to be by themselves. I think it helps you get through difficult times in your life if you can just be in your own presence.

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  3. Pingback: Which Would You Prefer – Sit Still or Experience a Shock? | The Awkward Pose

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