The practice of observing silence is called ‘mauna’ in Sanskrit. The aim is less about silencing the voice and more about silencing the mind. Although you can experience the hardcore way of Vipassana (10 consecutive days of meditating and silence), there are less intensive ways to encounter the power of silence. One option is to attend a couple of days at the Bali Silent Retreat. We did 4 days and 3 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it!
This holy place is located in the Tabanan region, which is within an hour drive Northwest of Ubud (TIP: To find this hidden spot, use the map on the website instead of google maps). Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted at the reception.
Talking socially and using devices like your mobile phone is strongly discouraged. However, you are allowed to whisper if needed and speak during some of the activities. We experienced that the guests and most of the staff take this seriously.
The surroundings of Bali Silent Retreat is breathtakingly wonderful. The area is known for the rice fields of Jatiluwih (UNESCO world heritage site) and Mount Batukaru. The retreat has their own green-to-extreme philosophy and uses solar electricity, an on-site water distilling and rainwater catchment, and a comprehensive recycling system. They support no garbage in/no garbage out and sarongs are used instead of towels for a lighter water footprint. There are also permaculture gardens where they grow fruit, vegetables and herbs.
This is the perfect place to cultivate the art of doing nothing. Or as the Italians say, ‘dolce far niente’. Rest, Sleep, Eat and Repeat.
You can join several cultural activities like a rice terrace walk or visiting the hot springs. In addition, there are two meditation sessions and two yoga classes each day, but don’t expect a challenging physical practice, as the yoga is created to support the meditation. If you are the adventurous type, you can hike a jungle trail and if you need to, let your tears drop into the river. They created a special ‘Cry Bench’ for it! To relax, you can lounge in a hammock after you visit the library, which is stocked with books about yoga, mindfulness, meditation and self-development.
The atmosphere here is special. People from all over the world, who haven’t spoken one world to each other, sit together on couches and pillows on the ground, read and take notes, while exploring the truth of their existence.
When you hear the bell out of the dining room you know the food is ready. This is by far the best vegetarian food we have ever eaten – so tasty and colorful! You can really see, smell and taste the freshness of the dishes, having come straight from the garden. Chef Simon Jongenotter shared with his New Earth Cooking food philosophy. Since 2012 he has been nurturing this land and now Mother Earth is giving back. He shops with his wheelbarrow in the gardens everyday and is creative with what he harvests. We loved the homemade granola, peanut butter, and dumplings. There is also an amazing tea kitchen where you can create your own tea with fresh herbs and spices! Can we take this home please?
What did we learn from our stay at Bali Silent Retreat? Everything here is meditation. From walking to eating, the infusion of mindfulness into everyday tasks creates the perfect atmosphere to stimulate the connection of your mind, body, and soul.
Furthermore, we discovered that taking a vow of silence creates an abundance of energy. We also finally found time to read a book too! Above all, we experienced so much acceptance and harmony in a group of strangers – even without words being spoken. Often when you enter a new community your ego directly tries to impress and attract others, or it starts forming judgements. However, silence permits you to focus on yourself, which fosters more acceptance, tolerance and less social fear.
Bali Silent Retreat is a beautifully green and inspiring sanctuary to relax, re-energize and cleanse yourself with fresh food. “Terima Kasih” for this unforgettable experience at Bali Silent Retreat (which means THANK YOU in Indonesian). We loved the silence and will definitely come back!
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