Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultations: The Art of Case Taking, 1.1December 5, 2023
DISMISSIVE BEHAVIOURJanuary 2, 2024
SPENDING TIME ALONE TOGETHER:
SILENT MEDITATION RETREATS
We have been encouraged to live in a world that thrives on being busy, productive and overscheduled. In addition, we have developed the technological means to be constantly connected with others and to have vast options for information and entertainment through social media. Smartphones demand the attention of many people, day and night, with constant notifications. As a result, naturally occurring periods of solitude and silence which were once commonplace, have been squeezed out of people’s lives. Music, reality TV, YouTube, streaming, video games, tweeting, texting, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, X ( formerly Twitter), Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, Threads and so on, are all displacing quiet and solitary spaces. Silence and solitude are increasingly viewed as ‘dead’ or ‘unproductive’ time, and being alone makes many many people feel uncomfortable and anxious.
However, while some people equate solitude with loneliness, there is a big difference between being lonely and being alone. The latter is essential for positive mental health and effective leadership. It has a therapeutic effect, relieves stress and restores one’s attention.
Being silent and alone can allow issues to surface that people spend energy holding at bay. It offers an opportunity to clarify one’s thoughts, hopes, dreams and desires. It provides time and space to step back, evaluate one’s life and learn from one’s experiences. In order to live and lead effectively, spending time this way prepares a person to re-engage with community relationships and helps them embark upon full work schedules.
In solitary silence, great things fashion themselves together. Human beings experience many benefits from these ‘escapes’ when they retreat from the ‘rat race’ to a place detached from this to enable them to gather their thoughts in quietness. However, it is important to be intentional about taking time out for solitary reflection. Otherwise, gaps in schedules will always be filled up, and even people with the best of intentions may never fully realise the life-giving value of being alone.
Here, at Nirvana Wellbeing Retreat, our training, research, and eco-education centre, we practice and teach outdoor education and wilderness therapy in environmental and related fields. Taking time out alone in Nirvana’s beautiful, natural and inspirational setting, has a calming effect on the mind. This is beneficial for one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Our silent meditation retreats have shown that time alone in nature has proven to have been beneficial for participants both from the outdoor practices as well as from the experience of having been alone.
Alone time of intentional solitude at a silent meditation retreat can last for approximately 24–72 hours. (Questions about the practice during this time to the facilitator are permitted, as are any personal concerns about the practice). Solo time creates a contrasting experience to normal living that enriches people mentally, physically and emotionally. As attendees examine themselves in relation to nature, others, and in some cases, God, they become attuned to matters of importance in their lives and in the world of which they are a part.
Solitary reflection enhances recognition and appreciation of key personal relationships, encourages a reorganisation of life’s priorities, and increases an appreciation for alone time, silence, and reflection. Attendees learn lessons that they want to transfer into their daily lives because they have had the opportunity to clarify, evaluate and redirect themselves, by setting goals for their future.
For some participants, time alone outdoors provides an opportunity to consider the spiritual and/or religious dimensions of life. Reflective time, especially in nature, often enhances spiritual awareness and can inspire people to feel closer to God. It can further encourage their increased faith and trust in the divine. This occurs because of the ample opportunities provided for meditation, prayer, wise eating, scripture-reading, journaling and reflection time.
Nature too provides challenges that spur individuals on to creative problem-solving and increased self-confidence, for example, sitting outside on the veranda upstairs, under the stars without the distractions of city lights at night. Mental, physical and emotional challenges in moderation encourage personal growth which is manifested by the experience of feeling an increased sense of comfort with oneself in the absence of others.
Come and join us for a Silent Meditation retreat at Nirvana Wellbeing Retreat. Spending time in nature will definitely be beneficial for your mental and emotional health. Here are the dates scheduled for 2024. As this is a boutique retreat centre, it is encouraged to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
1 January: The Breathing Space 7:30 am – 8 pm
2-4 February: Calm Abiding and Simple, Mindful Peace
28 March – 1 April: Radical Peace
31 May – 2 June: Cultivating Mindfulness and Inner Peace
2-4 August: Training the Mind (in relational intelligence)
4-6 October: Peace, Love and Healing
6-8 December: Peace in every Breath