Retreat into silence - Bali Silent Retreat Review
The sanctuary is called Bali Silent Retreat, beautifully nestled in the heart of Tabanan’s rice terraces in central Bali, at the base of the holy mountain Batu Karu. This idyllic eco-community has been around since 2013, founded by Patricia Miklautsch and Sang Tu, a visionary duo who was looking to build a silent retreat center dedicated for prayer and meditation in a dogma-free environment.
What comes into life is this gorgeous hideaway with high-end-ashram ambience, and green-to-the-extreme standards in every facet of their business. This silent sanctuary is consistently listed as one of the best Silent Retreats in the world, and it’s not difficult to see why.
From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by the sense of calm. Partly responsible for it were the rustic footpaths around the premise, framed by the swaying paddy stalks and the babbling of water in the rice fields’ irrigation channel, but even more vivid was the retreat’s conscious - and continual - reminder to allow yourself to retreat into silence.
The rules at Bali Silent Retreat are simple; no talking, detox yourself off technology, and make sure to be mindful of everything around you. Practicing the art of doing ‘nothing’ is prescribed, but the retreat also curates daily mindfulness programs - such as meditation and yoga classes, Balinese cultural discussions and tours, as well as sustainability lessons. None of these programs are mandatory, but it’s clear that they are very well-thought of, and retreat participants are welcome to plan their day around these programs as they wish.
Participants are also provided with a raft of resources to “explore themselves”. From stargazing beds to water meditation area, jungle walk to medicine garden, and even a labyrinth for walking meditation surrounded by the crystal circle. At the heart of the retreat, there’s a rustic two-story lodge which functions as a dining and library area -- this is where most of the retreat participants gather and meet each other every day, without any pressure of social pleasantries or small talks.
During my first three nights there, I found myself trying to pack as many meditation and yoga classes as well as mindfulness “routines” as I could in a day. I kept telling myself that the programs and resources are there to help me cultivate that sense of calm, the very reason why I decided to be there at the first place.
And indeed they really are. The classes are wonderful, from the early dawn until late in the afternoon, with every yoga and meditation class I joined, I convinced myself that I have truly managed to navigate my days in silence and stripped myself off the need to utter a single word. Like clockwork, I clung to every schedule, not wanting to miss the moment of being in the moment.
Until one day, I did. I missed one of the classes, and it upset me.
It was late in the afternoon when I decided to wander off the retreat’s jungle path. The air was humid and I started noticing how the leaves on the tree branches never moved an inch. Against the stillness, I began to hear the enthralling sounds of water, trickling down the bamboo shoots. I led myself slowly to the water meditation area, where the pouring sounds become louder. I was not sure why, but I felt the need to listen.
I allowed myself to sit and listen to the sound of water, and hours must have passed before I realised that I had missed the class. When I did, I felt like I was thrown off balance. Without the routines I was losing my grip, and my sense of achievement -- I thought I had discovered the power of quiet. After all, haven’t I managed to keep myself off meaningless words and chatters these past few days?
Then it dawned on me, my need to follow “routines” was a clear manifestation of my want to be in control. Since childhood, we are trained and conditioned to follow routines and habits. They gave us the illusion of order, that everything is working and according to plan. I realised then and there that I had come into this journey wanting to experience the power of quiet, without truly understanding what silence actually means.
Time to listen
I had the privilege to experience quietude at Bali Silent Retreat for 5 days. It was no magic, but it did give me a renewed sense of calm, and allowed me to give meaning to silence.
The journey was started with a mission -- to find peace by not contributing to the barrage of noise and incessant words. Humans talk too much, so I was determined to rid myself off the cycle, if only for a couple of days, by shielding myself behind routines.
Yet my Bali Silent Retreat Review is that it made me realise that to be silent is to be able to fully listen. Instead of trying to cling into what’s planned, or control anything, I learned to let go and really listen to what’s around and what’s within me; the sounds of nature, the noise of the minds, the whispers of our thoughts. I learned that when we allow ourselves time to listen, there is a tremendous clarity to be found -- and more often than not, this can only be felt in silence.
Bali Silent Retreat is about 1.5 hours north west of Ubud. More information is available at www.balisilentretreat.com