Bali Silent Retreat: An Exercise in Unwinding
The first day of meditation is the hardest if your mind and body aren’t used to it. I spent more time focusing on how my left leg was going completely numb, and then wondering whether, if upon standing, I would tip over due to the sheer discomfort that sitting cross-legged for over an hour brings.
“How do people enjoy this?” I wondered. Then, day by day, practice by practice, it got easier.
I remembered that no matter how far I’ve advanced there is always work to be done and room to grow.
The same happened with yoga: the more I practiced, the more comfortable I became. I started to enjoy the time when I could either sit in meditation or learn a new variation on a yoga pose. I looked forward to challenging myself in different ways.
Confidence set in, but I’d still find myself facing a difficult pose or a day when I couldn’t escape my thoughts or feel at peace. I felt like I had regressed somehow. But then, I remembered that no matter how far I’ve advanced there is always work to be done and room to grow. It was around this time that I decided to really enhance my knowledge of yoga and meditation by heading to a retreat that focused on these practices.
Bali Silent Retreat is an oasis among a sea of rice fields. The retreat’s mission is to help guide you through meditation and yoga while practicing rest and relaxation in silence and contemplation.
The ashram is located just outside of Ubud, a city famous for its yoga and expat community thanks to the exposure it received in Eat, Pray, Love. The area itself is reason enough to go–the landscape includes undulating hills of rice fields with the stunning Mount Batur in the background.
The first time I made plans to visit Bali Silent Retreat, I was skeptical about whether I could stay quiet for an extended period of time; I’m such a chatterbox! But just like taking the time to master a challenging yoga pose, being consciously silent for several days was difficult at first but easier as the days went on.
The classes were made up of small groups so that each person got the individual attention necessary. The instructors were knowledgeable and friendly. Sessions were held outside, so in the morning, I sat among the mist of the sunrise and in the evening, I heard the animals chattering in the jungle. Being surrounded by new and beautiful nature made it easy to feel calm and focused.
I was especially drawn to the retreat’s holistic concept. They had simple but comfortable accommodations that were off-the-grid and eco-friendly. Not having access to electricity or WiFi really helped me unplug. The vegetarian and vegan food was all locally grown and sourced right on the property.
In the morning, I sat among the mist of the sunrise and in the evening, I heard the animals chattering in the jungle. Being surrounded by new and beautiful nature made it easy to feel calm and focused.
The first time I visited Bali Silent Retreat, I only stayed for a long weekend and when I returned to Indonesia, I decided to spend another week there. With morning and afternoon yoga and meditation sessions, I could decide which classes to attend. I also loved having free time to take a walk, nap, read a book or just sit and relax. When so many of us are consumed with the stresses of work and obligations, it was wonderful to be able to unwind so completely.
At the end of each of my stays I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, and left feeling like the short time I spent in silence was more beneficial than any vacation I had taken before. I’ve since attended other workshops and practice yoga regularly. Since I’m a digital nomad, I look for a good yoga studio whenever I’m in a new location. Having time to attend a class and keep to a routine is a great way to keep me grounded while I’m on the road. Even better, yoga has made me a more kind, patient and a downright better person.
Top Photo By Mikaku