We stopped walking to listen to pure nothing. To listen to the serene silence in Finland. Walking through forests in Finland was mesmerizing from the very first moment. No sounds of cars in the distance, no birds chirping or wind whistling through the high trees near the calm lakes. Only us, the stillness and our breaths that stopped for a while in awe. That’s the silence in Finland.
Silence here is considered a common part of communication, and from our short time observing, Finns don’t speak fast, even in their own language. Generally, they are better at listening rather than speaking and interrupting during conversation is considered quite impolite.
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When doing business with Finnish representatives, two- or three-minute pauses of silence are common in business meetings and it’s highly recommended to avoid interrupting that silence.
Finns are known also as leaders in international peace initiatives and we believe there is the reason for that.
Now, would it surprise you to hear that many proverbs related to silence are of Finnish origin? For example, “Silence is a person’s best friend, for it remains behind after the rest has gone”, “A silent man is a wise one” and one of the most common ones, “Silence is golden, talking is silver”.
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There is also a joke about silence in Finland that says: “A Finnish guy loved his girlfriend so much that he almost told it to her” and I just like how accurate it is when speaking about the precise use of words and enhancing silence in Finland. It seemed to us that a person in Finland speaks only when he or she truly has something to tell, and if there is something to say, the sentences are spoken thoughtfully and with pauses of silence. Sure, not all people in Finland speak with a meditative tone and a slow pace, but it was rather exceptional to notice that trend during our stay in Finland.
“Entering the forest he moves not the grass; entering the water he makes not a ripple.”
Before visiting Finland for the first time, we were aware of its natural treasures, but nobody ‘warned’ us about Finnish quietness and harmony of the woods. It was amazing to observe how our own perception and expectation changed within a few moments once we entered this green, Zen kingdom of silence.
Imagine you’re walking on mossy earth, not making any sound, surrounded by high trees that do not move, still lakes that mirror the sky, with no airplanes above, no sounds of animal life around, with barely any humans on a walking path.
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We humans are sometimes terrified of silence and we often avoid it rather than appreciate it. To stay relaxed, we prefer CREATING the right environment rather than GETTING RID OF the noise around us. We put on relaxing music rather than switch off all the electronics. We prefer talking about an issue rather than contemplating it or letting it go.
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“This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need.”
Walking through the forest and being embraced by the silence in Finland, we experienced not only an intensive physical and mental recharge, but we also started to feel that there is much more beyond silence that calms you down.
It was also our great guide Johannes Sipponen from Outdoors Finland who pointed out the quietness of the Finnish woods on our hiking tour in the Häme region and mentioned the Finnish Tourist Board’s campaign, “Silence, Please”, a re-branding of the country using silence in Finland as a leading feature to make the country a more popular tourist destination.
Coincidentally, Audrey Scott from Uncornered Market saw our Instagram photo and recommended that we read an article where they answered the questions we were asking ourselves while indulging the peace in the land of thousand lakes.
Up until then, we’d been aware that silence could bring a feeling of ease and we knew that after having a rest in a quiet place, we were usually more productive and could go back to a rushed work rhythm with clear minds. But after reading the article and learning more about the phenomenon of “noise pollution”, we learned that silence has a great positive impact on the human brain’s development and on memory, and that noise, even hidden noise from electrical devices or ambient street noise, can change the quality of your life drastically.
“In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”
The origin of the word silence goes back to Gothic verb anasilan, which means “wind dying down” and the Latin designer, a word meaning “stop”. From the very beginning of history, “silence” has carried the meaning of interrupting the action, rather than only indicating a still condition.
That’s exactly what we felt while exploring the outdoors in Finland. We simply stopped thinking, analysing, planning ahead and just allowed ourselves to be completely present, to listen to the silence while meditating early in the morning in the woods, hiking, sitting on a boat on a quiet lake and looking at the sun rising or canoeing down the clear river water. Suddenly everything had a purpose when quietness let us be fully conscious about our actions.
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“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.”
Finland has approximately 5.4 million inhabitants, with an average of 17 people per square kilometre, while in Arctic Lapland the average is only two people per square kilometre. And if you consider that around 75% of Finland is covered by forests, the chance that you will enjoy the Finnish woods and their Zen atmosphere, still lakes and sweet berries all for yourself for hours is more than high.
There probably won’t be anyone making small talk with you, nobody will ask you why you’re there, how long you plan to stay and where you’re headed next. There will be nothing to disturb your inner silence and tranquility. The serene silence will talk to you in all languages and give you answers or ask you questions you needed to hear.
Because it’s the silence of Finland that makes you want to come back.
A big thank you goes to VisitFinland and Outdoors Finland, who helped us to explore the Häme region in its best.
All opinions, impressions and experiences of silence are our own
24 thoughts on “Finding Serenity and Silence in Finland”
So scenic and peaceful – Zen seems the perfect description! Stunning photos 🙂 I’ve never been to Finland but this certainly inspires me!
Thanks, Shikha, if you love nature and its peace, then you’ll definitely love Finland 🙂
Unfortunately I’ve never been to Finland and judging from your pictures and your writing, I’m clearly missing out. I can actually feel a sense of peace and tranquility only by looking at the places and landscapes you captured. I think I would need to spend some days somewhere like Finland to completely relax and embrace the beauty of the surrounding nature.
And imagine the real nature in Finland is double more tranquil than the photos 🙂 It’s indeed a place to “switch off”. Hugs to Berlin!
I am very interested in what you describe as the Finnish way. I can’t imagine stopping the conversation for minutes of silence. It would be good practice for me…I’d like to go there…
Thanks for commenting, Kathleen. We found the “silence culture” there really fascinating. And there are many other inspiring things in the Finnish culture, their approach towards the nature in particular.
Beautiful post guys. I had the same feeling, even though we explored a different part of Finland. Finnish attitude to nature is good for the body and for the soul, and I can’t wait to go back to explore more.
Thanks a lot, Margherita, we loved their attitude too, as well as the fact that our experience in the nature in Finland was kind of educative and we will be more than happy to go back there again and hopefully explore Lapland which has been our dream destination for a while.
Interesting post guys. I didn’t know that about the Finnish. But we are all shaped by our environment and I just have to look at the photos to feel the peace and isolation. Just beautiful. Reminds me of many spots back home (in Canada).
Hi Frank, you’re the third person already who pointed out a similarity of Finnish nature to Canadian. Hm, there must be something about it, and we really want to see it ourselves 🙂
The words silence, calmness and peacefulness definitely describe Finland. There is something extremely calming about the lakes and the forest and those are the two things I need whenever I feel stressed or tense. I am glad you also found the Zen state of mind here in Finland 🙂
Lucky you, Laura, that you can go for a meditative walk almost anytime you wish 🙂
This was such a fascinating post to read—I never would have guessed that Finland would prize silence so highly, but I suppose the few other things I know about the country would certainly lend themselves to that being true.
I remember how eerily quiet I found London after we touched down there following nearly 2 years in Asia. I can only imagine what it might have been like if we had headed to Finland instead! 😀
Oh yes, then you’d have felt like on another planet, where all happens in totally different pace using special “silence power”. I really wish you to experience this “noise metamorphosis” in Finland one day, Steph 🙂
Oh how this sounds like my kind of place. A silence like this is rare to find and much to be treasured. Marvelous post.
Is indeed a magic place, Gaelyn! Thanks.
Great blog you have.
You have really touched the essence of living here in Finland 🙂 nature is important to us in many ways. My favorite is the area called Lake-Finland, and especially Saimaa area. Of course Lapland too, northern lights are fantastic to see if you have a chance, and to hear them too.
If you ever come back here, there are places you maybe want to visit. I will gladly give information.
Hello Jari, thanks much for stopping by and for your kind words. Finland has impressed us a lot, indeed and we definitely want to see more of the country. I’ll stay in touch as we do love local tips!
This is exactly what I love about Scandinavian nature. I remember that moment when I was walking in the woods and stopped for a while. Suddenly I realized how silent everything is. At first I was astonished but then it got me thinking – shouldn’t it be natural to humans? We are so used to the noise in our lives that it really might be scary for some of us to hear nothing 🙂 Anyway, I find it very energizing and even healing if you listen to the silence carefully 🙂
Right on! Just when you are embraced by “nothing” you realize how many disturbing objects, situations we are surrounded by in our daily lives…
Agreed on healing power of silence, Monika, absolutely 🙂
Have this finnish BF, who happened to be here with me in my country(philippnes) 2014..But before that, we have ups and downs… 4 months that he not able to chat with me.. Till September came, we back to normal and he met me here.. Right now, we are in the situation where, he not again talk to me while, the past days, we were happy. Don’t know what is going on but..I am being patient. I’ll wait till he spoke to me. Not sure, is this normal to Finnish men?
Hi Jean, well, we met only a few Finnish men when in Finland and most of them were not super talkative, but they neither avoided the conversation. The best way how to find it out might be to talk openly with your beloved one and tell him how you feel so there are no cultural misunderstandings 🙂 Best of luck!
I love the silence! With so much going on at home, work and in my head, silence can be pure bliss! I have experienced silence in only one place in my life so far, Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, NV. When I got out of the car and stood in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and desert, the silence was deafening! It was truly unbelievable how quiet it was at 2pm in the afternoon! Every time we go to Las Vegas, I make my husband drive me out to the park just to sit in silence for a while. I’ve been 4 times in the last 3 years! LOL I think I need some peace in my life! 🙂
Thanks so much for reading and your comment, Sharon! You totally brought me there and I could stand in pure silence in Red Rock Canyon for a second!
We all need some silence every now and then at the end 🙂 Cheers!
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