In this digital age of constant connection and noise, silence has become a precious commodity.
Forget digital detoxes. Today’s elite peace-seekers are shutting down communications altogether in a bid to rebalance themselves. Noise is stress. Silence is peace. There’s an unspeakable freedom that flows from not talking; silence lets us focus on inner calm rather than the outward trappings of daily life.
Damian Chaparro, founder of New Zealand wellness retreat Aro Ha and a pioneer of this mindfulness movement, believes quietness can usher in self-perspective. “Everything we’re truly after in this life exists in the perfection of our own stillness,” he says. “All we need to do is slow down enough to listen.”
From luxury resorts in renowned spots to austere sanctuaries offering sustained introspection, we’ve found a silent retreat to suit every budget and inner journey...
Bali Silent Retreat, Indonesia
Opened in 2013 on the site of a 15th-century ashram in central Bali, this retreat offers accommodation for a maximum 29 people in private bungalows, single rooms and a women’s dormitory, with views over terraced paddies to sacred Mount Batu Karu.
10-day Vipassana at Dhamma Bhumi, Australia
Described as ‘self-transformation through self-observation,’ this highly-disciplined ancient Indian meditation practice is taught in ashram-like surrounds in the forests of the Blue Mountains, and at other locations across the world.
Kamalaya Healing Holiday, Thailand
Silence is incorporated into seven-day, fully customisable luxury healing retreats on Koh Samui, which include a wellness consultation, spa treatments and holistic fitness activities.
Aro Ha, New Zealand
Established six years ago by American “wellness architect” Damian Chaparro this 18-person retreat, is a high-end ashram where guests stay alongside a permanent community of up to 15 spiritual seekers. It offers five- or seven-day programs that combine mindfulness with exercise and healthy eating to reboot body and spirit.
There’s a strong emphasis on mindfulness techniques to still busy brains, culminating in a day of silence.
Springwater Center, USA
Set on 86 hectares of rolling hills in the Finger Lakes region of western New York state, this 15-room meditation retreat is a magnet for stressed city types wanting to disconnect and de-stress. Silence is the default mode, both on regular seven-day and weekend retreats and during less-structured Quiet Weeks.
Relaxing Meditation and Silent Retreat, Australia
Led by a Zen Master, these intimate three- to five-day retreats combine yoga with Zen dharma and meditation in a peaceful hinterland setting. The focus is emotional contentment and finding inner silence.
Little Paradise, Germany
This aptly named retreat, 25 minutes outside Hamburg, adjoins a nature sanctuary that’s a magnet for birdlife – geese, storks, swans, egrets and white-tailed eagles are all regular visitors. Guest numbers are capped at eight but usually average four or five in simple, private accommodation that includes two duplex rooms and single rooms with shower. Participants choose how much they wish to immerse themselves in the daily rhythms of retreats. They may remain silent for the duration or speak occasionally, particularly during teacher consultations.
Buddhist Pilgrim Way and Silent Meditation Retreat in Maha Sarakham, Thailand
Taking place at a tropical resort, this relaxing retreat includes daily Buddhist meditations and an overnight pilgrimage to a Buddhist temple.
Vipassana Meditation Centres, Australia
True ascetics and truth-seekers head to Vipassana centres worldwide – currently in more than 90 countries and every Australian state – to immerse themselves in 10 days of silence and self-discovery. dhAll-comers must submit to Vipassana’s “code of discipline”, which – among other things – forbids communication of any kind (words, gestures, notes) among students and all contact with the outside world.
Image credit: Little Paradise, Maria Lefevre