In my journey through various silent retreats, I’ve come to realize the profound impact they have on a diverse group of individuals. From business leaders to artists, young and old, healthcare professionals, and people from countless other backgrounds, the stories I’ve heard and shared resonate with a universal theme of transformation and discovery. Regardless of our different paths in life, there are invaluable lessons that we all seem to take away from these retreats. In this article, I will share the basics of silent retreat and three key learnings that have been particularly impactful for me and many others. In addition, we recently had the opportunity to learn about one of the most popular silent retreats in Florida hosted by Modern Om’s Amanda Gilbert here in Miami.
What is a Silent Retreat?
In today’s fast-paced, always-connected world, where the buzz of technology and the hustle of daily life are constant companions, many of us are seeking an escape, a way to find peace and reconnect with ourselves. This is where the concept of silent retreats comes into play, and it’s easy to see why they’re gaining popularity.
Silent retreats are a sanctuary from the noise and distractions of everyday life. Think about it: from the moment we wake up, we’re bombarded with information and stimuli. The incessant buzz of traffic, the endless notifications from our smartphones, and even the background hum of the TV at home contribute to a continuous stream of noise pollution. Research by marketing firms like Yankelovich indicates that an average person in the US is exposed to at least 4,000 advertisements daily, a number that skyrockets for those who spend most of their time online. Our minds are tirelessly processing this deluge of information, leading to exhaustion and a blurred line between our personal space and the external world. It’s no wonder that many people are willing to pay for the opportunity to step away from this chaos and into a space of silence and introspection.
Silent retreats come in various forms. You might find luxurious, resort-like retreats in Miami or Los Angeles, where the focus is on yoga, breathwork, and nature walks. Or, there are the more austere Vipassana retreats in places like Thailand, where participants engage in ten hours of meditation a day, following strict rules and practicing alongside monks. These retreats, rooted in the ancient technique of mindful meditation, offer an immersive experience into silence and introspection.
Regardless of the type, the core principle of these retreats is the same: silence. This means no talking to others, no reading, writing, or napping. The days start early with chanting sessions, followed by breakfast and lunch, with fasting often encouraged for the rest of the day. Meditation is the central activity, the tool through which participants seek introspection, peace, and a deeper understanding of themselves. The experiences shared by those who have attended these retreats are profound – they talk about healing, cleansing, and a sense of purification.
In my perspective, silent retreats offer a much-needed pause, a chance to disconnect from the external world and reconnect with our inner selves. In the quiet, we find space to breathe, to reflect, and to be truly present. It’s a journey inward, an exploration of the self that can be both challenging and deeply rewarding.
Benefits of a Silent Retreat
1. Enhanced Focus on the Present Moment
During a silent retreat, we step away from our daily distractions. There’s no talking, no reading, writing, or even making eye contact. In this space, I’ve found myself developing a heightened sense of awareness, noticing the subtleties of each moment. This experience isn’t unique to me; many share this sentiment. It’s about being fully present. In my everyday life, I used to find my mind wandering during conversations, but now, those moments are fewer. The retreats have been pivotal in enhancing my ability to stay focused and present, significantly enriching my daily interactions.
Furthermore, this experience has granted me a fresh perspective on life. It has empowered me to approach decisions with vulnerability and authenticity, to embrace challenges fearlessly, and to view setbacks not as failures but as opportunities for growth and wisdom.
2. Achieving Mental Clarity
The structured nature of silent retreats fosters a deep mental clarity that I’ve found hard to replicate elsewhere. A few days into a retreat, my mind starts to clear, recovering like it’s been on a long, exhausting run. This clarity doesn’t just vanish once the retreat ends; it extends into my personal and professional life, allowing me to tackle challenges with a renewed perspective.
This clarity also helps in recognizing and managing my thoughts more effectively. It reminds me of a quote by Viktor Frankl that I hold dear: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This understanding becomes more pronounced with each retreat, enriching my daily meditation practice.
3. Maintaining Perspective
The constant stream of life’s stories often keeps my mind busy. My daily meditation practice and the silent retreats provide a much-needed pause, a chance to return to the present moment. The stillness and absence of distractions during a retreat sharpen my senses, allowing me to perceive the world with greater detail and appreciation.
This heightened awareness brings a calmness to my reactions and fosters a more positive outlook. After my last retreat, I felt a tangible shift in my energy, which I radiated to those around me, deepening my feelings of love, kindness, and compassion. This practice constantly reminds me of the bigger picture, helping me to let go of trivial worries and focus on what truly matters. Research even suggests that meditation leads to cognitive changes in the brain, affecting areas responsible for perspective-taking, emotional regulation, and memory.
In our fast-paced world, finding ways to focus our attention and step back from constant activity is more important than ever. If you’re curious about attending a silent meditation retreat or have any hesitations, please feel free to reach out. I’m more than happy to share my experiences and assist you in any way possible on your journey to mindfulness.
Modern Om’s Amanda Gilbert
In my journey within the mindfulness community, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to cross paths with some truly inspiring figures. One such individual is Amanda Gilbert, whose dedication and expertise in the field of mindfulness and meditation are both profound and inspiring.
Before Amanda fully immersed herself in teaching, she served as the Center Director for The Aging Metabolism and Emotions Center at the University of California, San Francisco. In this role, she spearheaded clinical scientific research that delved into the biological and psychological effects of mindfulness and meditation. This work is crucial, as it bridges the ancient practice of meditation with contemporary scientific insights, offering a deeper understanding of how these practices affect our overall well-being.
Currently, Amanda is actively involved in contemplative research, contributing significantly to writing and publishing scientific outcomes on meditation. Her role on the steering committee at The USC Center for Mindfulness Science speaks volumes about her commitment and expertise in this field. Her contributions are invaluable, enriching both the academic understanding and practical application of mindfulness.
Amanda’s credentials are extensive and impressive. She is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator with UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and InsightLA, and a Certified Meditation Instructor with The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Her qualifications in Mindful Eating and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction further demonstrate her comprehensive grasp of various mindfulness disciplines. Having studied under master teachers from both Vedic and Buddhist traditions, Amanda’s depth of knowledge and ability to impart these teachings authentically are truly remarkable.
Her impact extends beyond the academic and personal practice realms into the corporate world, where she has led meditation sessions for major companies and startups alike, including NBC, Paramount Pictures, The W Hotels, Merrill Lynch, Macy’s, and YouTube. Additionally, her presence on platforms like the FitOn app makes her teachings accessible to a wider audience.
Discover Serenity: Exploring Modern Om’s Premier Silent Retreat in Florida
Amanda produces an experience that promises to start your year with renewed energy and focus. It is a one day silent Insight Meditation Retreat held from January 13 to 14, 2024, at the Modern ŌM Bungalow.
Recognizing the varied schedules and commitments of participants, Modern Om made this retreat flexible. You have the option to join us for just 1 or 2 days, providing a perfect opportunity for a reset as you step into the new year feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and empowered.
Here’s how it works: The retreat embraces noble silence, creating a powerful environment where you can focus your energy inwardly. You’ll be part of a supportive group, each on your own journey, yet together in spirit, as we foster an atmosphere conducive to profound meditation practice.
The daily structure is thoughtfully designed to balance various forms of meditation and reflection:
- Sitting meditation sessions, complete with guidance for both beginners and experienced practitioners.
- Walking meditation to complement the sitting practice.
- Dedicated periods for reflection and mindful eating, turning meals into a meditative experience.
- Morning and afternoon sessions featuring wisdom talks to deepen your understanding and practice.
- Embracing noble silence throughout the retreat, allowing you to conserve and redirect your energy towards self-growth.
Amanda and her team understand that attending a silent retreat can be a significant commitment in terms of time, travel, and cost. That’s why they’ve tailored this program to be accessible, especially for Miamians who have been eager to experience a silent meditation retreat.
This retreat is open to everyone, regardless of your level of experience in meditation. Whether you’re a seasoned meditator or just beginning your journey, you’ll find valuable insights and growth opportunities.
Here’s a glimpse at the weekend schedule:
- Arrival and settling in, followed by an opening session and sitting meditation.
- Alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation throughout the day.
- Enjoy a mindful eating lunch break, followed by more meditation and wisdom talks.
- We’ll wrap up each day with a final meditation session and a Q&A, a chance to reflect and connect.
For $125, you can join for a day of deep meditation and personal growth. And if you’re looking to extend this rejuvenating experience, Modern Om offers a special discount for booking both days at only $205.
Conclusion: A Renewed Perspective
In conclusion, the Modern ŌM Bungalow’s silent Insight Meditation Retreat is not just an event; it’s a pathway to a more mindful, centered, and rejuvenated self. With its exceptionally reasonable pricing and the invaluable opportunity to learn from a leading expert like Amanda, this retreat stands out as a must-attend for anyone in South Florida looking to deepen their meditation practice or embark on a journey of self-discovery.
As we step into the new year, this retreat offers a unique chance to reset our minds, find clarity, and cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves. It’s a rare blend of affordability, expert guidance, and transformative experience – an invitation to embrace peace and introspection in a world that’s constantly in motion.
So, if you’re seeking a meaningful way to begin 2024, to invest in your mental and emotional well-being, or simply to find a moment of peace amid the hustle of everyday life, this retreat is the perfect opportunity. Join us in embracing the power of silence and mindfulness at one of the best-valued retreats in South Florida. I look forward to welcoming you to this journey of tranquility and self-discovery at the Modern ŌM Bungalow.
Verónica Cruz, a native of Miami, is a certified yoga instructor trained by Mimi Yoga with a special focus on Vinyasa breath work. With her background as a leading interior designer, Verónica brings a unique blend of creativity and mindfulness to her yoga practice, creating transformative experiences that promote balance, strength, and inner harmony. Her passion for holistic wellness and design inspires others to find their own path towards wellness and self-discovery.