The stillness of Callawassie Island – it’s not the first thing people notice, but often it is decisive. After the intake of breath on the causeway, at the first sight of our island, after the shade and the Spanish moss at the fork in the road, after the calm sense of restrained civilization in the appearance of our Club, eventually people pause. And in that pause, what we notice is what is not there, the stillness that wraps our beautiful island in a feeling of serenity.
Within this calm and stillness people seem to find it easier to connect. Not only is our quiet one of the things that attract people to Callawassie Island, but also it helps us enjoy each other a great deal more when we settle-in here.
The bustle of the to-and-fro is one of the things we are happy to leave behind. Most of us are “imports,” arriving in coastal Carolina from busier places. Whether city or suburb, coming to South Carolina was already a step into a less hectic pace. A friend once proposed a safe-driving campaign to the state DOT that read simply, “Slow Down. It’s South Carolina.” And yet, even here there is a remarkable difference in the pace of Callawassie Island.
Not only do people come here who found Bluffton too busy, or who thought that Hilton Head Island was a little bit too “discovered.” Many residents compared our Island to other private, gated communities, all up and down the southeast coast, and found that Callawassie Island is calmer, quieter, leaving more nerve endings available for pleasure.
The importance of quiet and stillness is even greater today, in the digital age, because our non-stop access to each other. The number of distractions and interruptions we endure in the course of a day actually defies counting. One sad indication of the price we pay for this constant competition for our attention is that the National Safety Council reports 1.6 million driving accidents a year due to the distraction of mobile devices. How much more frequently are our good intentions and right actions thwarted by the ring, buzz, or vibration of a mobile device?
The sense that certain people have, that quieter is better, is supported in the findings of innumerable studies. It seems almost synonymous, but quiet supports calm. That state of calm, which we enjoy in unusually good measure on Callawassie Island, is proven to result in body benefits that might seem logical, almost expected. Quiet lowers blood pressure, reduces the presence of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and relieves tension.
Less well-known benefits to the body include the fact that quiet helps reduce or prevent plaque formation in arteries, and that it improves brain chemistry, growing new cells. A 2013 research study demonstrated that the absence of auditory stimuli – noise – for just two hours promoted new cell growth in the vital hippocampus region of the brain, the part that supports and integrates memory and spatial orientation.
Yes, the damage caused by noise pollution is well documented. It hinders development in the young and hastens aging among the mature. And the benefits of stillness extend even beyond the physical. Emotional and psychological benefits are no less profound, and no less well-documented. Creativity, awareness, and reflection – the ability to integrate experience into knowledge – are all enhanced by time spent in stillness.
An article compiled by The Wisdom Post lists no fewer than 21 benefits that people enjoy from quiet. Calm, Intuition, and Understanding are enhanced. Awareness and Creativity improve. Stress, pressure, and muscle tension are relieved. The mind experiences a kind of de-tox, getting rid of negative thoughts, impressions, and judgements. Patience is improved, perspective is broadened, and then perhaps not surprisingly, people find it easier to discover their purpose, and to grow better relationships with others. Quiet improves focus and concentration.
It’s not just the “soft stuff” that improves with quiet and stillness. The mind actually ages at a slower rate. Headaches go away and migraines are reduced in frequency and severity. People get better at decision-making and experience greater willpower. All these practical benefits do lead back to some over-arching higher benefits as well, though. Time spent in quiet helps people bring mind, body, and spirit into closer alignment and harmony. “Living in the moment” becomes more than just a theory. From stillness we attain a higher level of emotional stability, less quick to anger or to be bothered by people, places, and things.
Doing a deep-dive into the benefits of stillness like this can run pretty close to sounding too quiet, even dull. Not on Callawassie Island. The reason we notice and enjoy the stillness, the reason we don’t have to read why it’s good in research, is that the balance of stillness with our other attractions makes the quiet here even more enjoyable. Bounded by the calls of sea birds, illustrated by the backdrop of sky and waterfront, punctuated now and then by the sight of friends gathering – when we regard our quiet and stillness in this perspective it becomes a piece in a work of art.
The balance and connection we experience here, and the warmth we feel resulting from it, are supported in no small part by the serenity, the stillness, the quiet we have found here on Callawassie Island.