During the 1850s, Henry David Thoreau became the pioneer of western silence retreats publishing the account of his experience in his memoir, Walden.
As the pressures of modern life and the reach of technology grows, many of us feel overwhelmed by the bombardment of calls, texts, emails and social media. Constant connection and noise have led to the rise of what is known as a Digital Detox, where we crave to unplug and get away. When noise equates to stress, silence is peace. Shutting down communications can go a long way in helping restore equanimity.
Purposeful silence has become a burgeoning travel trend.
Some of us find freedom in not talking to hearing anyone talk. Others pine for quiet with hotels designing noise-free zones, triple-paned glass and soundproof walls. Then there are those of us that want to be soothed by the sounds and images of nature, be it forest bathing or indulging in blue mind — the therapeutic benefits of spending time in or near water.
In 1986, Carlo Petrini protested the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome that sparked the creation of the slow food movement. This cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace has created offshoots such as minimalism. Silent retreats are a way of countering time poverty. Silence lets us focus on inner calm rather than the outward trappings of daily life.
More about Thoreau & his approach on our homepage
What is a Silent Retreat?
Imagine the opposite of a schoolie’s summer vacation on the Gold Coast.
A silent retreat is an opportunity to experience the deep silence removed from outside noise, other people, screens and the chatter of our conscious mind.
They range in length depending on your time constraints and your readiness from longer periods of inner stillness.
A Vipassana retreat is a 10-day program offered around the world. Vipassana means “to see things as they really are.” Vipassana meditation offers self-transformation through self-observation. For those with little or no exposure to days of stillness and silence, this might be something to work towards to gain the most benefit.
Some silent retreats focus on 10 hours or more of dedicated meditation. Many incorporate yoga or walking meditation as a way of integrating the mind and body.
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