Silent retreats have been gaining in popularity over the past several years, especially because our world has become increasing hectic. Taking the time to chill out on technology, conversation, and daily activity is a great way to reboot and center.
However, jumping right into a silent practice can be daunting—and mindful preparation can help you take the silence plunge and get more out of the experience.
Here are eight simple ways to get the process going:
Tip No. 1: Really listen.
When you’re going about your day—in your house, taking a walk, before going to sleep—tune in and listen. Start with listening to what is in your immediate surroundings. Then stretch your awareness to the entire room, then outside the room. Listen as far away as possible. Focus on many different sounds at once, then differentiate one by one.
Tip No. 2: Set intentions without attachment.
It’s normal to have specific intentions in mind before you go on a silent retreat. Go with them—but also allow your intentions to be soft and flexible. Not being hung up on any one thing will open you into the expansiveness of possibility. One way of doing this is to write down what you want to get out of the experience, then burn it. This helps you to open the energy and set it ablaze. It is a release and an integration.
Tip No. 3: Take a few silent car rides.
When driving in your car, don't put anything on—no music, podcast, or phone call. Try for just a few minutes at first, then go for longer stretches of time.
Tip No. 4: Speak only when necessary.
This is the Gandhi approach: “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.” Nuff said.
Tip No. 5: Stretch. A lot.
During silent retreats, there is often a lot of seated meditation. Make sure your body is open so you can sit for long periods of time. And, try stretching in silence; it’s a great way to tune in.
Tip No. 6: Clean up your diet.
Most often the food during a silent retreat is plant based. To prep for all that sitting—and the tough stuff that is likely to surface in the silence—consider knocking something unhealthy out of your diet, like soda or dessert, for a few days.
Tip No. 7: Start a journal.
While some retreats allow journals and others don't, it is a worthy practice to help dive into the inquiry.
See also 6 Things You’ll Want to Know Before Planning an International Yoga Retreat
Tip No. 8: Try telepathic communication.
Gaze into the eyes of others and communicate from your heart. This works for plants and animals, too.
About our author
Julian DeVoe is a founding member of the Yoga Collective Nosara, a wellness educator, and author of Robust Vitality and Insights Out. Learn more at juliandevoe.com.