I never really understood why silence was a virtue. Probably because, when I was a kid, I didn’t really know what a virtue was.
Even so, I had a vague idea about the importance of the absence of sound. Silence must be significant, I figured, because when we ask mum what she wants for mother’s day, she always tells us “peace and quiet”. It’s only now—20 years later, and after reading about the rise of the silent retreat—that I finally get it.
In a world saturated by electro-pop ringtones, humdrum conversations, honking car horns—and those indescribable sounds that iPhones make when you hit the touch screen keypad—is it any wonder why so many of us dream of the chance to, essentially, shut up?
Not to be confused with your everyday, juice/yoga/more juice variety, silent retreats offer next level relaxation—a place to nourish the body and the soul, sans clamor and conversation.
Where the fast paced intensity of day-to-day existence keeps your mind on edge, silent retreats help your mind to rest. Ranging from tranquil weekends away to ten-day residential courses in ancient Indian Vipassana meditation, silent retreats soothe your frazzled nerves, allowing you to become deeper connected to your inner world.
Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking, you’ve heard me say ‘inner world’, and now you’re not so sure. It all sounds a little unconventional; a bit too intense. But don’t worry; you won’t have to wear a burnt orange robe on a mountain someplace to enjoy the silence.
Boasting a similar appeal to the modern digital detox, silent retreats come in all shapes and sizes, attracting yogi masters to workaholics, and all sorts in between.
Your answer to peace and absolute, complete, uninterrupted, all-encompassing quiet, here are our top six destinations to get your silence fix. Trust us, shutting up never felt so good.
For a small taste
Satyananda Yoga, Mangrove NSW
If you’re intrigued by the idea of hitting your mute button, but don’t want to commit to ten days of reverberating silence, Satyananda could be for you. A residential yoga centre based on ashram principles, the retreat offers a space to focus on and understand your own experience and purpose in life—a place of simplicity and regularity. Lengths of stay range from one weekend to a couple of months, with participants following ashram disciplines such as mouna (silence), slowing down, and living simply in each moment.
At Siddhayatan you can relax in a bubble of spirituality, peace and quiet. Guided by the wisdom of monks and nuns, you will stay in simple and clean accommodation, beginning and ending each day with healing chants. The rest of your quiet time is for you to relax, let go, and feel at peace. If you’re new to the whole being quiet thing, Siddhayatan welcomes you to practice silence for as little or long as you’d like, encouraging you to follow your heart, and how your body and mind are feeling.
Rolling Meadows Retreat, Maine
Go silent in style at Rolling Meadows’ New England style farmhouse, situated on 100 acres of walking trails, fields and gardens. Offering scheduled silent meditation retreats for up to 11 participants throughout the year, Rolling Meadows’ silent community creates a supportive environment for opening up to inner silence, allowing your body and mind to quiet while getting in touch with your truest self.
Involving daily Yin Yoga, self-enquiry and meditation, and providing three square, organic meals a day, Rolling Meadows’ offers a splash of luxury, so that you can truly enjoy the silence.
For the real deal
Silent Stay, San Francisco
Set in a postcard-worthy location, Silent Stay’s name says it all—you stay, and you are silent. Participants share the space much like readers do a library, each involved in their own individual, inner study.
Hosting only a few guests at a time, the retreat offers daily heart-centered meditation and meditative movement. Days are flexible, allowing you to deepen into the retreat as you wish—reading, journaling, walking, or simply staring wistfully into the mountains for hours on end.
It’s hard to believe that quietness can heal. But at Usada, that’s kind of how it works. During their intensive silent retreat, you will learn how to nurture your soul through “loving kindness”.
Healing Tapa Brata meditation, led by guru Merta Ada, focuses on how you can train your mind to surrender negative thought patterns that are getting you down, or holding you back. As your mind and body become more focused on inner awareness, rejuvenation and healing can take place—all amid the surrounds of a tranquil, riverfront jungle.
When a retreat’s website comes with a code of conduct and discipline, you know that they mean business. If you’re on the hunt for some serious spirituality with a side of soul salvation, look no further than this ten-day intensive in Vipassana meditation. To sustain your concentration throughout your stay, reading, writing and chanting are strictly not allowed.
Upholding the noble silence is also crucial, not even the smallest of gestures towards fellow participants are to be made. The goal is simple: focus your mind. What you take from it is largely down to you, but seeing as Vipassana means to see things clearly, you’re bound to leave a whole lot more conscious and aware.