Should You Try a Silent Retreat?
Life can get hectic even while we are accomplishing our goals, doing what we love and feeling like things are working out. Life can also feel overwhelming painful when we have difficulties that feel like they are out of our control or emotional pain that seems inescapable. In a very real sense, depression doesn’t discriminate against income level, age or prior history. It can arrive unexpectedly. When we need tools to cope and are seeking answers that don’t involve unhealthy forms of escapism, a silent retreat might be just what the doctor ordered.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens at silent retreats, well, you could say it’s more about what doesn’t happen. At a silent retreat, you’re not on your phone, you’re not bombarded by sounds and people, and you’re certainly not expending your energy talking.
Although it might feel strange, this practice of sustained silence over a contained period of time seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Many people report they wanted more by the end of their silent retreat and felt like it profoundly changed them after they got used to sitting still.
So, should you try a silent retreat? Today we’ll walk you through what a silent retreat is and what you can expect when you try one.
The Benefits of Silent Meditation
Feeling peaceful is actually completely free and accessible to you at any time and perhaps that is one thing you discover in a silent retreat (as well as how to access this highly sought after state of peace). There are different kinds of meditation that offer different benefits. Some of the benefits of silent meditation differ greatly from other forms of guided meditations. Read through these to see if this type of meditation calls to you and where you are in your life right now.
- Handling life transitions
- Recuperating from burnout
- Finding inspiration
- Finding a solution for anxiety
- Help with technology dependence
You will find silent retreats refresh you because you can focus on being fully present. You have time, and a lot of it. You have nowhere to be and nothing to do. You can pull your mind out of the past or the future (or both) to rediscover the beauty and intoxicating splendor of life as it unfolds.
At a silent retreat, you learn to slow down your mind and release tension that it creates in your body and your emotions. What I mean is, imagine you walk into that retreat like a high strung executive and walk out like a joyful sage. While that seems like an idealistic promise, there is something to be said for the many success stories online from people that experience something to that degree. Getting in touch with what really matters and what really offers happiness in the human body, mind, and soul can be accessed in a silent retreat, and that is why we will take a moment to ask you two questions.
What To Expect at a Silent Retreat
Perhaps something within you wants you to consider a silent retreat. Well, why else would you be reading this article when you could literally be doing anything else?
Silent retreats can last anywhere from one day to ten. There are also many types of retreats in the traditions of Buddhism, Sufism, Catholicism, and Hinduism. Regardless of the program, most people say it takes about 24 hours to find that profound sense of calm.
As far as logistics go, you will usually sleep in a shared room. Depending on the retreat that might mean multiple people or just one. You could always check with your retreat center beforehand. Some retreat centers do allow talking at certain points but you can assume you’ll mostly be quiet. Some silent retreats do walking meditation in addition to seated meditation and many include talks where you’re quiet but a teacher is presenting a topic. Healthy food is served three times daily usually at these retreats and if you have dietary concerns, definitely speak to the retreat staff ahead of time about that. Many silent retreats include yoga as well.
If you’re worried about having to sit silent like a statue for upwards of 8 hours every day, you can put that worry out of your mind. Retreat participants take frequent breaks for walks, food, and some rest periods since a lot of attendees are not disciplined meditators.
People say it feels healing to be a part of a community focused on something positive. Even without words, you begin to sense a connection to others and are reminded of the good nature within us. Eating in silence with people on a similar path can be remarkably deep and healing as well, reminding us that we are all connected by our humanity.
Read this next: A Meditation To Help You Find Point Zero
There’s an ironic meme floating through cyberspace that jokes: “completes silent meditation retreat, can’t stop talking about it.”
When was the last time you had unstructured time to let your mind drift? When did you allow yourself to unplug and just exist without all the tasks and stories? When you do a silent retreat, you’ll be able to go within your mind and see what thought patterns are running your day with more ease. That perspective can allow you to see where you’re making your life extra difficult. But these realizations can only come when we take the time to see our mind and connect to our soul in stillness.
There’s a saying among meditation teachers that everyone should meditate at least ten minutes a day but if you’re too busy to meditate ten minutes a day, you should meditate an hour each day. This saying gets at a deeper truth that busy people are often less happy and more trapped by their minds. Finding a balance between work and relaxation is a great endeavor that will offer you a subtle and deep sense of joy when you find you have both purpose and wonder for the present unfolding magic of creation.
Finally, if you find it hard to sit still because your mind starts to spin, that is all the more reason to work on it. If you find meditation hard, you fall asleep, get anxious, frustrated or start planning your next five years in your mind, you could benefit from this.
Here at Daily Life, silent retreats come highly recommended. Can you really pass up an opportunity to find something beyond what money can buy that might feed a part of you that will hold you up from within? That’s for you to decide.
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