“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
Silent retreats are predicted to be one of the most popular growing wellness trends in 2020. In a modern world characterised by hustle and bustle, where we are switched on and plugged in 24/7, it makes sense that we all crave to some degree a real taste of tranquility and peace. Embarking on a ten-day silent retreat may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, periods of silence offer a robust array of unique benefits that are helpful to us all.
When was the last time you switched off completely? How many pockets of time throughout your day are void of chatter, music, traffic or white noise? Does the idea of even sitting in silence make you a little squeamish?! There is a reason why all forms of spiritual practice utilise periods of focused silence. There is much to hear when we switch off the sounds around us and dive deeper into our inner terrain.
Of course, our Bali retreat is not a silent retreat, although periods of quiet and inner reflection are encouraged with various activities including yoga, meditation and yoga Nidra. Even activities such as surfing offer some of the beautiful benefits of silence and contemplation, as do relaxing activities such as spa treatments and flower baths. Aside from our usual Bali retreat programs that run every week of the year, our annual Nypei retreat week in March is a powerful and very special week to experience Bali and dip your toes into the benefits that a period of silence can offer.
Nyepi is the Balinese new year holiday which is celebrated with a day of silence. For a full 24 hour period, everyone stays indoors, all businesses, shops and cafes close, and people refrain from technology, talking and cooking to enjoy a day of quiet contemplation and reflection with their families. On our Bali retreat, we honour this special day with unique activities including mandala flower making, Yin yoga, journalling, spirit offering making, meditation and spa pampering. Delicious meals are served as normal and guests are invited to dive into the aspects of the Balinese holiday as they feel most drawn to.
Over the years, many women have taken advantage of the opportunity to experience a day of silence and a day away from technology and devices. Lounging by the pool in the sunshine, taking a lazy afternoon siesta, enjoying a deep tissue massage and a candlelit meditation make the day pass by with the delicious ease and contentment that a perfect Sunday evokes. Aside from rejuvenating the soul, a period of silence can open up all sorts of interesting spaces within the mind that are usually filled with external stimuli. When these external stimuli are removed, a new voice appears – one you can recognise as your own.
So, what are the real benefits of silence? What lessons can we learn from refraining from outward chatter and allowing our inner voice a day of freedom? Let’s take a look below.
As human beings, we seem to have lost the ability to simply be. We no longer value silence and avoid life in the slow lane in fear of seeming ‘unproductive.’ We have become uncomfortable sitting at a table alone in a café without a device in hand. Headphones have become an accessory as commonplace as shoes. When we arrive home the television goes on whether we are in the room or not. Embracing silence can be downright terrifying for many people who are used to being comfortably bathed in a world of chatter and noise. Yet, it is when we are quiet, that our greatest realisations come to us. Silence inspires reflection and a deep inner pondering. It allows us time to look backwards and experience healing, or look forward and experience clarity. Inward reflection uncovers our deepest longings and desires for life. Without distraction, we can find out so much about ourselves.
In our quest to be constantly connected, we have become remarkably disconnected. While technology offers us an illusion of connection, we are in fact more disconnected from ourselves than ever before. As a population, we are spending less time on our own and that time alone is often spent scrolling through other people’s lives on various social platforms. When we take time out for ourselves and bask in periods of silence, we are offered the chance to reconnect to who we really are. In the absence of social media likes or follows, we stop trying to please others, and simply reconnect to the things about ourselves that we truly love. Learning how to cherish the time you spend on your own is one of life’s greatest blessings. Silence doesn’t need to mean meditation either, it can be anything – a bubble bath, journaling, a walk in nature, a mediation- anything that peels away the outer layers so you can step back towards your soul. Silence and introspection can highlight parts of yourself you may have forgotten about. Often times, you discover a greater level of self-love and self-respect. Remember the famous quote- it is not our darkness, but our light, that frightens us. Don’t be afraid of what you may meet in these quiet spaces.
As you reflect and reconnect in periods of silence, “stuff” arises. We spend a lot of time avoiding the “stuff” that we push away into the dark recesses of our mind. Busy lives and constant distraction can be used as a way to perpetually avoid the things we would rather not deal with. Allowing what is to simply be, is one of the greatest techniques of mindfulness and meditation. We learn how to let thoughts and feelings come without trying to push them away or change them. We begin to see things for what they are, without all the loaded meaning we may have placed on them. As we allow what is to just be, we can find release, forgiveness and space. This process of allowing is incredibly liberating and healing. It is only when we face things can we truly move on and be free from them. Aside from distraction and procrastination, sometimes we spend too much time searching and fretting for answers. Oftentimes when we let go and simply rest in silence, those answers we have been seeking arise on their own. Time spent in silence can be a powerful way to let go of the past and step confidently into the present moment.
Besides giving your ears a break, silence has been shown to offer significant health advantages that boost overall well-being. From a physiological standpoint, silence helps to lower blood pressure, boost the body’s immune system, benefit brain chemistry by growing new cells, decrease stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline, promotes good hormone regulation and prevents plaque formation in arteries. Periods of silence are also incredibly beneficial for the brain. The ceaseless attentional demands of modern life put a significant burden on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in high-order thinking, decision-making and problem-solving. The brain can restore its cognitive resources in environments with lower levels of sensory input – especially in periods of silence. When the brain is quieter and disengaged from external stimuli, we can also tap into our inner stream of thoughts, emotions, memories and ideas which helps us to make meaning out of our experiences, empathize with others, be more creative and reflect on our own mental and emotional states.
How often do you feel guilty for just relaxing? With our endless to-do lists always lurking over our shoulder, even taking a five-minute tea break can feel uncomfortable! Even though it can be hard at first to allow ourselves to slow down or to embrace periods of silence, when we give ourselves permission to do so, it helps us to develop real self-compassion for ourselves. Rather than operating on autopilot and pushing through when you really need a break, being able to recognise what your body needs and listen to its signals can be incredibly powerful and beneficial. Self-care shouldn’t be something that is at the bottom of your to-do list. Having regular periods of silence allows you to really check in with how you are feeling- physically, mentally and emotionally. Periods of downtime are so, so good for us. When we take these quiet breaks on a regular basis, we become more attuned to what we need. We are not designed to be on the go 24/7, and when we spend time unplugging, you are able to return feeling more revitalized and energized with more capacity to show up fully in the world.
Without taking moments to pause, it can be hard to feel grateful. Gratitude stems from being present, present to the wonderful things in your life. Periods of silence allow you to take stock of everything in your life that you have to be grateful for. Resting in silence allows us to shed light on the little things that we so often take for granted. We realise how much joy there is in the simple things and our senses open up to the special gifts that life offers us all the time- the warmth of the sun, the aroma of the flowers, the taste of food when it is enjoyed quietly and mindfully instead of wolfed down while at your computer! Slowing down and embracing mindfulness in life is like experiencing life anew. We feel our awareness shift to one of abundance rather than one of lack of competition. This is a beautiful space to be in, and when it is practiced regularly, it creates powerful shifts in the brain which encourage an attitude of gratitude to be your constant state.
In an age where technology rules and fast-paced lifestyles are heralded as ‘winning’ in life, slowing down and finding pockets of silence are becoming increasingly non-existent. We tend to hoover up those quiet moments that life offers and reach for our phone to entertain us any time there is a red traffic light or you’re in a queue at the shops. While embarking on a silent retreat isn’t always practical or appealing, enjoying a day once every few months or quiet periods of time throughout the day still offer great insight and rewards.
If you’re feeling inspired to experience the benefits of a day of silence, join us for our annual Nyepi retreat this March. Combine a day of silence and digital detox with the beauty and magic of Balinese culture and holistic wellbeing. Limited spaces are available for this unique annual retreat, enquire now if you would like more information or to reserve your place.
Your Escape Haven Bali Retreat offers a luxury wellness experience for body, mind and soul
We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.