Do you remember the game when you were a kid and you held a competition with your peers who could be silent the longest? Do you remember how hard it was to stay silent for a while? Well, you might discover it all over again on the retreats that I’ll be mentioning here! Get ready to immerse yourself into the depths of your thoughts, unravel them and discover what your soul truly needs.
Going into silence might not be the easiest thing to do, but if you are walking the yogi path, you might discover that you’re craving for this silence. It’s quite hard these days to be completely silent as there are a lot of distractions around you. Your phone that’s always pushing those notifications through, the neighbors talking too loud, cars passing your door, etc. Therefore it might come in handy every once in a while to retreat yourself and get away from all those stimuli that might be interfering with your meditation practice.
What is Silent Meditation?
This one isn’t too hard to explain. It’s meditation where you’ll be in silent. Of course, there are all sorts of meditation. You have guided meditation, active meditation, zen meditation, vipassana, and many more. What’s very typical about silent meditation, like vipassana, is that there is no sound at all. You just focus on your breathing and thoughts, that is at the beginning of course.
This way you’ll be getting insights about how your mind is functioning and what thoughts are frequently coming up in your life. It can go from happy thoughts that function quite well, but also negative thoughts that are holding you back. And, with meditation, the goal is to become completely thoughtless.
You might wonder now why it’s so important to be thoughtless, and there are a couple of explanations. First of all, it has to do with duality. You know, yes and no, black and white, love and hate, they are all opposites of each other. What meditation tries to do is to center yourself in the middle, where there is no opposite anymore. Where there is no good or bad. It’s basically like this, even if you’re having positive thoughts, that means that there is the opposite as well, the negative ones.
Another reason is that thoughts are creating attachment, those again are creating expectations. And expectations are bound to lead to disappointment. Okay, that might be a bit too cruel. But you get the point. All the above are creating strong emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Meditation doesn’t mean that you have to be completely emotionless, but it happens to balance your emotions a bit more. Instead of going up and down like a roller coaster, meditation will make sure that you are rather on a merry-go-round.
Challenges going into the Silence
Staying quiet for a while can be challenging for some people. Some might have gotten used to it already and they are loving it completely. For those who aren’t comfortable with it yet, here are a couple of tips that might be useful when you are going on a silent meditation retreat. These are a couple of things that I’ve noticed within my own experiences and observations from others. As I’ve said before, I love near a spiritual ashram and I accommodate many people going on silent retreats as well.
#1 Technology Cleanse
One of the biggest challenges these days must be technology detox. We’re bound to our phones, computers and whatever is available these days. I don’t think I have to say that going on a silent retreat also means that you’ll be giving up on your internet privileges. This will mean that on a lot of retreats you’ll have to turn off your phone. I have to admit that this for me is always the hardest part of the retreat itself (but still the most amazing one).
During a silent retreat, it’s normally really prohibited to use any kind of technology, therefore, you have to turn it off. And probably by reading this, you’ll be making up excuses not to hand in your phone. “I have kids, what if something happens?”, “My sister is expecting, I need to hear it when she goes into labor!”; and yet, those are all excuses. I’m not saying they’re valid, they are, but they are also keeping you from going deeper into your meditation.
And there is one simple solution for this. Quiet your mind by informing your loved ones where you’ll be, inform the retreat center if something is going on and that you’ll pass on their contacts to your family. Normally this should be standard within any kind of silent retreat, but in case if they don’t ask for it, be sure that you release yourself from that burden already before you enter the retreat.
And besides all of this, if you know you’ll be turning on your phone during the retreat, give it to the retreat leaders. They will keep it safe for you and you won’t have to worry about having enough self-control.
#2 You’ll be very hungry
This might sound a bit weird, but the truth is that you’ll be eating a lot more than you would at home. There is nothing else to do, so during the meals, you will be filling up your plates out of boredom!
Well, not only that but during a retreat there will also be a lot of emotions releasing. Even if you’re are not an emo-eater, you will feel the urge to eat your feelings away as there is no-one there to talk to about them. And truth be told, there is nothing to do about that.
Luckily, during most retreats, you’ll be getting some very nutritious meals, and you won’t have to worry too much about gaining a lot of weight. But yeah, what the body doesn’t process, it stores away in your body of course. Make sure that after your retreat you don’t have a lot of dinners planned with friends to make sure that you lose those extra pounds after the retreat.
Of course, if you are aware of this tip already, you might do something about it before you go all the way. Make a plan for yourself to prevent yourself from eating too much. For example, if they offer refreshments during the retreat, make sure that you only eat one or two snacks a day.
#3 Mirror, mirror on the wall
If you can walk around in silence during the silent retreat, things might get a bit rough. Emotions will come up, to begin with, but people will also be in their bubble. This means that you might see other people see some things that you are not okay with.
I remember during a silent retreat where I was participating, during lunchtime, we all sat separately. There was only one woman who liked to sit within the company of another person. That person had chosen the perfect spot for her during lunch to sit with an amazing view. And of course, that other woman came and sit right in front of her view. She was angry inside, but she couldn’t say anything as she wasn’t supposed to speak.
This is an example and it is one of the hardest parts during a retreat. You’ll feel a lot of emotions coming up, but please look at those situations as a learning point. Within these situations, you’ll learn why these feelings are coming up, where it came from and best of all, you’ll be getting insight on how to resolve them.
It sounds quite easy, resolve them, but I have to say that the moment you are aware of it, that’s when the change begins. At that moment, you’ll see where some of your habits and frustrations come from and where it’s your choice if you’d like to resolve them!
Well, those are a couple of tips, there are a lot more, but you’re probably not here to read a lot about how to survive your silent yoga retreat. Therefore, let’s begin with our selection of some great silent meditation retreats!
Silent Meditation Retreats Greece
The holy mountain of Greek mythology, what place is better to do a retreat than here? There are more great places of course, but if you are very interested in the Greek gods, then this place is an absolute must for you to visit.
The retreat itself isn’t focused solely on silence. There will be a lot of practices going on during these 13 days, and there will be parts of silence involved as well. I think this is a great way to start if you are not used to going into a silent retreat. Other activities include yoga, yantra making and more.
The retreat itself is located in the forest on Mount Olympus and is stunning. It’s not in one of the typical white with blue houses that you know of Greece, but it’s still in a very great lodge kind of accommodation. The center has been renovated and is therefore in top shape to suit all your needs.
Different kinds of accommodations can be chosen, so check it out here.
This island in Greece isn’t that known yet and therefore a perfect place to go on a silent retreat. The retreat center itself is located near a very small town where you can hike to when you are coming out of the silence periods of course.
What I particularly like about this retreat is that it has not only yoga but also bhajans. It’s great to combine silence with yoga and singing. Although you won’t be in silence the entire time, it’s functional. While you are chanting it’s a way to release some emotions and clear out your throat chakra as well, as you might have been swallowing some words in.
The retreat center itself looks very original. It’s not your basic structure and you’ve got quite some options to choose from how you’d like your rooms settled. Check it all out on this website.
New Year’s Silent Retreats USA
If you don’t like the fuzz about New Years and everything, then this is something for you. Holidays are typically a very outgoing period of the year, and I hear more and more people say that they don’t enjoy it anymore. Therefore, try going into silence while passing into the new year!
Within this retreat, you’ll be going all the way. So, no talking for 5 days long. I’d advise this retreat more to people who already know a thing or two about going into silence and who have done a retreat already. It can be quite challenging in many ways to do a silent retreat, so it’s best to know a bit of it already.
Another great thing is that during the transition of the year you’ll be getting the option to do a special silent meditation. Do make sure that you bring some warm clothing for the hikes that you’ll be doing during this retreat.
This silent meditation retreat in California will last for six days that you’ll be going into silence. And within this time, there will be many sessions like yoga, Qi Gong, walking meditations, etc.
The retreat itself will go on in a Buddhistic center. This means that if you are interested in some Buddhism as well, this is the place to be. The retreat center lies within a tranquil forest in California, which will be a great aid on the walking meditations that you’ll be doing.
During a walking meditation, it’s great to walk slowly without talking. It’s a great way to ground yourself as you will start feeling the connection to the earth. Mostly we don’t take the time anymore to walk at a very slow pace to be aware of your environment. And if we do, it’s mostly to stop and take a selfie to put on our social media platforms. This is why it would be good to slow down on this retreat and connect yourself to nature again.
Silent Meditation Retreat Peru
This retreat is amazing and will take place on an island at Lake Titicaca in Peru. During three days you’ll be going into silence while also doing a lot of yoga and silent hikes. This retreat I’d recommend to beginners as well, as you won’t be going into silence for more than three days. Besides that, you’ll do a lot of activities to make sure that the body as well can handle the energies that will be released.
And that’s not all, the retreat itself lasts 6 days. Of course, the first day is the day of arrival as you’ll have to do a lot of traveling to the island. But it’s a great way to connect a bit with your fellow participants as you won’t be doing a lot of talking for a couple of days.
After the silence part, you’ll slowly head back to the mainland where you’ll be spending your night in a great luxurious hotel.
The retreat owners have a great itinerary and it’s highly recommended for couples as well. They even have a special couples program if that would be something for you. This way you can have your couples retreat to strengthen your relationship with your partner.
A Silent meditation retreat is a great way to go deeper into your soul. Not only will you come closer to yourself, but you’ll also have a closer look at patterns that might not be serving you anymore. It’s a great way to reflect upon yourself and deal with things that you might not know that were present in a latent layer of your unconsciousness.
That said, if silent meditation isn’t your thing, have a look at the retreat page where you’ll find more other types of retreats that you might be interested in.
If you’ve got any experience or more advice for people who will be going on a meditation retreat, please let us know in the comment section below!