Silence is Golden: How to give yourself an at-home silent retreat

Spend time alone with yourself. Notice if that feels uncomfortable for you; if so, then there’s work to do. (Photo credit: Astrosystem via Adobe Stock Photo)

A World of Distractions

This world has so many distractions for us. “Oh my gosh, look at that over there…” “Hey, did you hear the news about…?” “You have to try this…” Texts, phone calls, emails, news, TV, friends, family, bosses, children, neighbours, chores, errands; the list goes on.

But mastering life comes when we disconnect from all of that, and live in accordance with our inner reality. Our inner reality is our authentic self, our higher guidance, our deep pool of wisdom that we have gathered over many lifetimes.

In order to connect with our inner world, we need to detach from the outer one. That means we need to stop our life for awhile, close ourselves off from the noise, sit in stillness, and ask our soul to speak. Gently, quietly, it will.

The best way to do that is, of course, to be in silence.

How To Spend a Day in Silence

A wonderful way to hear yourself speak is to spend a day in silence. Here’s how to do that.

Choose a day when you can disconnect from the world completely. Plan for it by letting people know that you will be unavailable for a full 24-hour period, so they know not to expect a reply to their texts, calls, or emails. Your phone will be powered off for the whole 24-hour period; your computer, television, radio, and music player will be off as well. Gather any supplies you might need for your silent day — food that you have already prepared, a notebook to write in. Clean your home and do your laundry beforehand if that would be a distraction to you.

If you have children, then you may want to arrange for a sitter; you need this time — this one day — for yourself. If you have pets, then you will feed them but not acknowledge them at all during your time of silence. You will not even go out to shovel snow if it falls. You are staying inside your home, inside one room even, totally focused on your inner world.

When your day of silence arrives, resist all urges to have your energy flow outside of you. Resist the urge to look out your window, to look around your home, to think of things that you will need to do in the future or that you “should be” doing now; remember that you already took care of everything, so nothing actually needs to be done today.

Notice how your energy body is so well programmed to indeed do this — to flow outwards and away from yourself. Gradually redirect that flow: Bring your energy into yourself. Notice what’s there. Notice what arises. If it feels uncomfortable, then just notice that; this *is* uncomfortable, so you’re doing great. If it feels unnatural, then notice that, too; turning inward is ideally supposed to be natural and easy. When it’s not, then that shows us that we have some work to do.

Notice that you have so much more energy when you turn your flow inwards; when you use your energy to replenish yourself, rather than when you use it to respond to the external world.

Eventually, sit quietly with just yourself. Invite the rest of you — your eternal, wise, and powerful soul — to open and expand its connection with you. Invite your soul to share with you whatever it is that you need to know right now.

If you have questions, then you can ask. But be sure that these questions come from your heart, not your mind; your mind will have its chance later, when the silent retreat has completed.

Whenever you find yourself wanting a distraction, notice that. We should be able to sit with ourselves in quiet and stillness. If we can’t do this, then there’s something that needs to be healed. Knowing this is useful: It enables us to one day address the reason why we run away from our inner world.

If you wish to write the messages that your soul is sharing with you, or to write about how you feel as you sit silently with yourself, then do that. But use paper, so that you do not get distracted by a piece of technology.

Pass the entire day this way: silently, acknowledging nothing but what is within you.

When it is time for bed, then go to sleep this way. You can return to the world tomorrow, but go to sleep in this space of total silence. Ask your soul to be with you tonight, to continue the conversation that you started today. If it feels right, then ask your soul to help you continue this journey into yourself, releasing distractions and going deeper into your own wisdom.

When you wake up the next morning, your silent retreat is over, and you are welcome to do whatever feels right for you. Notice, though, if anything has changed. Does your routine feel the same as it did before you were in silence? Has anything become less important, less urgent? Conversely, what has gained in importance? Are you moving at the same pace as before, or have your movements and mind slowed?

Incorporating Silence into Your Life

As often as possible, spend some time in silence. It could be another day that you set aside — perhaps as a monthly event. Or it could be a half day, or just an hour every week.

If you’d like a deep experience with the power of silence, and the power of mindfulness meditation, then consider a Vipassana meditation retreat: Ten full days of silence with ten hours per day of meditation. When I did this, years ago, I realized that it was the first time I ever acknowledged the body that I lived in. My mind emptied completely during this time, and I learned how to become aware of the subtle energies of my body, and to release some of those energies just by observing them with a neutral mind.

Silence is a necessary part of life on Earth. I hope you will consider bringing it more fully into your life, and thus hearing the beautiful wisdom within you.

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