Journey Inward: The Best Silent Retreats Around The World

Travelers can get swept up in climbing the tallest mountains, fording wild rivers and crossing the most obscure borders that they can miss the formidable challenge right under their nose:

How to find peace by turning inward.

It is tempting to always look for adventure outside of yourself but make sure you do not let life pass you by without exploring your inner landscape.

Choose from six of the world’s best silent retreats to find the best fit for getting re-acquainted with the foreign parts of your soul.

1) One Day of Silence At Mulia (Bali, Indonesia)

Do you think it’s impossible to spend a day without talking?

The Balinese will prove you wrong when the whole region spends a day in silence on March 31 to welcome in the New Year.

Nyepi is one of the most sacred holidays in the Balinese Hindu calendar and the island keeps noises to a minimum to spend the day in reflection.

On Nyepi Day, all daily activities, noise and public transportation (including airplanes at Ngurah Rai International Airport) cease, electricity is limited and no one is allowed on the streets for 24 hours.

Celebrate this unforgettable, holistic meditation experience at the Mulia Resort & Villas.

During this day, guests at The Mulia, are encouraged to join either a morning meditation or yoga session to join the Indonesian people in clearing the mind, body and spirit.

With its Nusa Dua beach location, Mulia is the perfect place to begin the year anew.

Setting of Rolling Meadows silent retreat. Photo courtesy of Patricia Brown.

Setting of Rolling Meadows silent retreat. Photo courtesy of Patricia Brown.

2) Three Days At Rolling Meadow (Brooks, Maine)

If you are ready to dip your toe into silent retreats for a couple more days, try Rolling Meadow Meditation Retreats on an adorable farmhouse property in Maine.

This intimate retreat (with a maximum of 11 participants) will combine practices of meditation, classical hatha yoga, yin and restorative yoga, pranayama, and self-inquiry to create the flow of the day.

Between these structured sessions, you will have personal time for solitude, reflection and enjoying the peace of extensive walking trails that weave through the property.

Shared silence is maintained during these yoga retreats, except during educational sessions and question and answer periods, to provide a supportive environment to surrender to your inner silence.

Pool At California Retreat Center. Photo courtesy of Divine Openings.

Pool At California Retreat Center. Photo courtesy of Divine Openings.

3) Five Days At Divine Openings (Montecito, California)

Attend a retreat that will never end, when Divine Openings helps you achieve dramatic life changes in just five days.

Silence may sound like torture until you learn to treasure the delicious stillness within, while experiencing pleasurable activities, meditation, healings, laughter, movement and eating healthy gourmet food.

During the retreat, participants claim to have tangible results in relationships, health, finances, inner peace, happiness, and every area of life, without undergoing interrogation about their private feelings. World-renowned spiritual teacher Lola Jones will guide you to form a powerful new connection with your unlimited inner self.

The domestic retreat is located on 26 heavenly, eco-friendly acres of the “American Riviera” near Santa Barbara.

Eastern Point Retreat Center. Photo courtesy of Eastern Point.

Eastern Point Retreat Center. Photo courtesy of Eastern Point.

4) Eight Days At Eastern Point (Glouchester, MA)

If you want to get closer to God, try these eight-day retreats that honor the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

If you are open to prayer and reflection — as well as contemplation and silence — spiritual directors will guide you towards ways to discern God’s presence.

The retreat is held in silence except for a daily conversation that probes fundamental questions:

  • What are we here for?
  • How do we make decisions?

Leaders do not impose or correct experience of God, but encourage you to explore it.

The rest of your time is spent in an environment of genuine silence, stately architecture, prayer spaces, and nature walks near the ocean.

You will be surprised how a community forms, even though there is little talking among your fellow retreat-goers.

Retreats are offered regularly.

5) Ten Day With Vipassana Retreats (Worldwide)

Learn the art one of India’s most ancient meditation that has been passed down since the Buddha, used for over 2500 years.

Vipassana means “to see things as they really art,” and mastering these techniques could be a universal remedy of all of life’s ills.

The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught through ten-day residential courses at hundreds of locations all around the world, including dozens in India.

You will learn method basics and get enough practice to begin experiencing its beneficial results.

Even better?

There are no charges for the courses – even food and accommodation expenses are met by donations from people who already completed the course.

Click here to find the location of your choice.

While a little different than traditional Vipassana, you might also consider a silent meditation retreat in Mexico.

Wandering the grounds of Plum Village. Photo courtesy of Plum Village.

Wandering the grounds of Plum Village. Photo courtesy of Plum Village.

6) Two to Three Weeks At Plum (Southwestern France)

The Vietnamese Zen-Master, Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thầy), founded Plum Village in southwestern France as a Buddhist practice center for laypeople.

The daily schedule in Plum Village varies depending on the season and the retreat, but there’s always something going on.

Every Thursday and Sunday you can honor a Day of Mindfulness without spending the night.

During the longer retreats, you will practice Sitting Meditation, Walking Meditation, mindful eating and mindful working together with the community each day.

This will help you weave mindfulness into all daily activities, not just when you are sitting in the meditation hall.

There is always a period of “Noble Silence” from the last evening activity until after breakfast the next day.

Additionally, one day each week is a designated Lazy Day with no formal practice schedule, providing a chance to meditate throughout the day along with eating, walking, working, and enjoying tea.

Have you gone on a life-changing silent retreat before? 

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World’s Top Culturally-Immersive Yoga Retreats

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Katie Foote

Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she spent several years travelling the world as much as possible. After four years of semi-nomadic life, she spent a couple years in Auckland, New Zealand and recently moved to Vancouver, Canada. Despite living more traditionally, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes kickboxing, yoga and exploring her extraordinary new backyard of British Columbia.

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