What is it Like to Attend a Bali Silent Retreat

For the girl that cannot stay still, a silent retreat was always going to be a challenge.

For someone that considers working out a foreign concept, can’t stay still or stay silent for at least five minutes, choosing to holiday in a silent yoga retreat was always going to be quiet the challenge – pun intended. Far from Bali’s beachside cocktails and thumping nightlife scene, this getaway was about seeking a new type of release – one that I didn’t think possible for myself.

Why I needed to go to on this silent yoga retreat

In today’s world of constant distractions and buzzing notifications, doing something like this was the wake-up call that I needed. I hate to admit it, but I am obsessed with my phone – I am overconnected. The state of my fast-paced, technology-filled lifestyle needed to be put on snooze. I had to detach that damn phone from my hand and listen to what my body and mind were saying, away from everyday life, so I needed to get out of the concrete jungle that I surround myself in.

bali silent retreat

Welcome to Bali Silent Retreat

The two storey eco-sanctuary Bali Silent Retreat was the perfect destination to practice Asana yoga and meditation set amongst rice fields with hot springs nearby and towering Mt. Batu Karu in the distance – all in the sound of silence.

After an introduction to the retreat to learn all the do’s and don’t, it was time for me to be sent off to my adult boarding school of wellbeing. People can opt to go as long as they want but it is well recommended to stay at least a few days to detach yourself. If you did have the urge, you could head over to the outside reception area (a few hundred metres away from the retreat itself) to make a call to the outside world, but ultimately, you need to be disciplined enough not to surrender to the outside world.

bali silent retreat

Hello living clean

It was as if time had wounded back and I was a child again, grounded from using my phone, laptop (say goodbye wi-fi) and forbidden to utter a single word. Speaking within the retreat isn’t a punishable offence but is highly discouraged.

How on earth would I survive this?

Diving into the depths of silence and all other means of interaction, I was sure to understand how The Little Mermaid felt when she lost her voice. (Don’t mind my Ariel reference!)

Forget meat as the retreat was all about clean eating – say hello to aubergine bacon! It was an unusual concept for me to be sharing space with people that you are discouraged from interacting with despite the inference of being like-minded individuals undergoing the same lifestyle intervention. It even felt liberating not to have those conversations out of convenience with strangers. We existed in each other’s presence only through unspoken glances. This type of solitude excited me as it allowed me to we focus on my relationship with the most important person in my life – me.

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The new daily routine

The silent, flexing muscle, a green eating cult that I was now a part of adhered to a regular set of activities laid out for the day. With a beat of the drum, the day kicked off with a sunrise yoga session under an open-air tent (Bale) followed by meditation class. Then repeat. Your participation in both classes and activities were not set in stone, although to get the most Zen in your life and to refresh your mind and body, it was encouraged to attend all. My entrée sized, three-day introduction into the world of silence, yoga and mediation got me in touch with my body more than ever before.

bali silent retreat

Yoga for beginners – yep that’s me!

My hand is far up in the air when it comes to claiming the titles for both Most Uncoordinated and Most Inflexible person out there. Being a yoga novice, I felt silly and a bit self-conscious at times getting into my cat and cow poses, however, this retreat felt like a place where no judgement would be felt. Yoga is there to teach you to bend your body in positions you didn’t know possible. We all have to start from somewhere, and a downward dog pose is not a bad place to begin. Yes, my body was aching in pain from discovering muscles I didn’t even know I had but no pain no gain right?

How to shhhh my brain

Clearing my head was by far was the most challenging, more so than any yoga position. (Even if my back did hurt for a few days!) For someone who’s mind runs like a hamster-on-a-wheel, I found it hard to silence my inner monologue to meditate. Through the art of meditation, sitting upright and drawing in long breaths and slowly breathing out calmed me (something that I deem rare in my life) and most importantly, cleared my mind. You are also able to lie down, something I took full advantage of until I was caught out by waking up to the sound of my snore mid class – how embarrassment!

I did break the commandment of speaking by asking my meditation instructor (one rare moment I spoke in those few days) if we were limited on time for meditation in our everyday lives, what would be a short and sweet way of practising it? Yes, I did ask that! Ah hello, this is just as vital to many daily rituals you may have, and you should make time for it!

The instructor’s advice was to take five minutes out of your day and envision yourself walking to a room, and upon entering the room, there would be a few objects of importance to you. To give you an example, I’ll set my scene up for you. My room will consist of a hammock (one of my favourite things in life), a photo of my family, pen and paper and a window overlooking the ocean. I found this small exercise help me in a big way to shift focus in times of having the ultimate scatterbrain and give attention to the things that matter.

bali silent retreat

What a silent yoga retreat taught me

I can preach this all day as Whoopi preaches to the choir in Sister Act but the biggest learning curve to take from this was to follow the concept of mindfulness. There are many times where we all feel like we are living in the moment, ready to capture it on our phones as we don’t want to miss a thing (cue Aerosmith) and look back on the visuals with fond memories. With deep contemplation, it made me question if we are ever actually present in anything that we do, be it watching a concert, climbing mountain or eating.

Attending a silent yoga retreat taught me the art of patience and how far the strength of the body and mind can go. I hate to admit this, but I have not treated both the best in the past; ironically, it takes a lot out of me to express my thoughts and emotions on paper and for exercise to even be in my radar.

The most challenging for me at the retreat was allowing myself to let be. I felt with the practice of yoga and meditation; I had overcome these previous sentiments and adopt the mantra ‘recharge, relax, refresh.’ Incorporating these newly found rituals into my life made me feel more productive and calm. It gave my life that extra bit of Zen. And to learn these new things about yourself while on holiday in Bali – even better!

Originally published as “What happened when I went on a silent retreat in Bali.”

How have you recharged your mind and body on holiday? Share below!

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