Silent Meditation Retreats

Read our informative guide to healing silent meditation retreats so you can choose whether one of these mindful experiences is the right retreat for you.

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Silent Meditation Retreats can be one of the most intense yet inspirational ways to connect with your true self and discover what you really want from life. Yet before you undertake one of these life-changing retreats you might be questioning what they’re like, what the benefits are and whether you’re ready to undertake this journey. Well, we’re here to tell you that silent retreats can be transformational for everyone, no matter what stage of life you’re at. So, step boldly into the unknown and challenge yourself like never before with a silent meditation retreat that is sure to change your life.

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Silent Meditation Retreats are fixed-length getaways that are centred around stilling the mind and deepening your connection with the self through silent meditation and the removal of words and distractions. Most retreats include two meals a day, long periods of seated meditation (also known as Vipassana), sessions of Karmic Yoga and occasionally lectures on Buddha’s central teachings including the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.

During these retreats, guests are asked not to make eye contact with other members, not to listen to any music or podcasts, not to speak and not to write. No form of communication is key so that you are able to go deep within and communicate your true desires.

On the whole, silent retreats are not aimed at being luxury breaks. It is by working through the discomfort of silence and stillness that you are able to break down the voice of your ego and hear your inner self more loudly.

More extreme Vipassana retreats may include sleeping on concrete beds with wooden pillows, but you’ll be happy to hear that there are a huge variety of silent meditation retreats available to cater to all levels. So, if you’re just starting out and want a few creature comforts to help settle you in then you’re sure to be able to find a trip for you too.

Each silent retreat is different and they can range anywhere from one day to indefinite stays in monasteries all over the world. However, in order to get the most out of your retreat you are best off picking a 7 or 10-day retreat so that you have time to really switch off your chattering mind and can reap the benefits of prolonged meditation.

If you have never really meditated before or feel as though 10 days would be too much, you could start with a weekend retreat, but honestly part of the power of a silent retreat is the challenge and commitment it takes to stick it out!

One of the best ways to prepare for a silent retreat is to practise still, seated meditation for prolonged periods of time so that your body becomes more accustomed to sitting cross-legged or kneeling. While you are unlikely to practise this to the same extend as will be required during the retreat, you can at least learn what positions work best for you so that you keep discomfort to a minimum during your trip. You may find that using certain props like meditation cushions or benches help you keep your alignment and as such, you’ll want to bring these with you to your retreat.

Other ways to prepare are to practise intermittent fasting, take a digital detox in the lead up to the retreat, and start to adjust your sleep schedule so that your body clock isn’t too shocked by the pre-dawn wake up times and early nights.

Lastly, you’ll want to leave your expectations at the door as this can be the number one downfall for those embarking on a silent meditation retreat. If you can go into the retreat with an open mind and heart and not carry any expectations of the process or what epiphanies it may bring, then you’re likely to get the most out of your experience. Don’t worry if you can’t still your monkey mind for more than a few seconds, simply surrender to the challenge that lies ahead. If you can power through the first few days by focusing on the now and the ‘is-ness’ of the moment, then you’ll be able to navigate the challenges of your silent retreat with much more ease.

There are innumerable benefits to taking a silent meditation retreat but the main ones are being able to see an increase in your level of awareness and self-understanding, and developing real gratitude that you can take with you into your daily life.

By being silent for a prolonged period, you have plenty of time for self-reflection which allows you to look at different aspects of your life and personality and start to understand where, why and how these have come to be. As the voice of your ego is quietened you can begin to listen to the calling of your inner self and work out the steps you need to take on your journey to create the life you desire. This might be the first time that you have connected with your inner self, without listening to the voices of your ego, your parents, your past self and society telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. This can be a very powerful realisation and one that only comes through stillness and reflection.

Another benefit of a silent retreat is that all of your actions become more mindful and this includes your relationship with food. As most silent meditation retreats restrict your diet (usually to two vegetarian meals a day) you learn to listen to your body and feel the power of healthy, nutritious food. You will experience what actual hunger (and not boredom) feels like and you will take the time to truly appreciate each item of food on your plate. Each mouthful with be a new sensation as you experience textures, flavours and smells on a whole other level.

Do you think a silent meditation retreat is for you? Get in touch to chat with us about our retreats so that you can experience the power of the sound of silence.

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