Silent meditation retreats. Benefits, techniques and methods to seek more silence in our lives

We talk to the owners of silent meditation retreat The Hermitage about the methods for and benefits of awakening to a more peaceful reality by going beyond the mind, in silence and meditation.

In a world where there is always a new update to check, a photo to look at and a person to connect with, in which technology dominates our lives, silence seems to be very much absent in today’s world. But at The Hermitage, a completely off the grid silent meditation eco-retreat on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, Emma and Severin, the beautiful couple who founded the place, believe that silence is the greatest teacher.

The gorgeous meditation hall overlooking lake Atitlan at The Hermitage © Courtesy of The Hermitage
The gorgeous meditation hall overlooking Lake Atitlán at The Hermitage © The Hermitage

What is silent meditation

“Anything you need to know can be found in periods of solitude and silence,” says Emma. The world we live in, however, is full of distractions, “that are trying to keep you away from actually looking inside and feeling what is going on for you at this moment, and feeling this moment as a whole, feeling the sunlight on your skin or feeling the wind in your face, or the presence of other people around you”.

“So when you spend even a day in silence, on your own somewhere in nature, so many insights start to flow. So much opens. So much blockages that were there from filling ourselves constantly become available as we become more open and empty to receive the messages of ourselves, of our emotions, of our own thoughts, of our own inspiration and creativity, and to the messages of the Universe or perhaps even of God, if we believe in God or like to use that word to describe something greater than ourselves”.

Read more: “We need to become the hope”, Eskimo shaman Angaangaq on the spiritual significance of climate change

A blissful group meditation during a 10 days silent retreat at The Hermitage © Courtesy of The Hermitage
A blissful group meditation during a 10 days silent retreat at The Hermitage © The Hermitage

The benefits of meditation

Meditation has similar benefits. “Sitting on your own, watching and observing the thoughts, we start to realise that thoughts are often going in endless cycles and always about the same subjects. The same things again and again, and probably about 90 per cent about me, me, and me,” Emma shares. We realise how obsessed we are with the past and the future when truly we’re just sitting here in this present moment. We realise that we’re not our thoughts, and that the mind certainly doesn’t have to become the author of our reality.

“There is a reality outside of the mind, and that reality is very peaceful, awake and available to its surroundings. So when we enter into that reality we feel a peacefulness, a love, an optimism, a flow of life through and around us, and this is one of the great beauties of meditation. It simply means opening to that which already is present here within us and around us, just becoming available to that which brings so much peace and happiness into our lives!”.

View of the beautiful lake from the retreat centre © Sarine Arslanian
View of the beautiful lake from the retreat centre © Sarine Arslanian

Silent meditation retreat, why visit The Hermitage

The Hermitage offers the ideal space to cultivate an open heart, be more aware and present, and go deeply within yourself. There is a big round meditation hall overlooking the lake that can be used for practice at anytime, and wonderful gardens with hundreds of flowers, medicinal tea plants, fruit trees, and more, as well as many areas and tree platforms where you can sit down, meditate and contemplate nature. Even the bathrooms, which have composting toilets, have fabulous views. All the gardens are organic and use permaculture principles, and solar energy is used for all electricity and showers needs.

Emma, Severin and little Benzra will receive you with open arms © Courtesy of The Hermitage
Emma, Severin and little Benzra will receive you with open arms at the silent meditation retreat The Hermitage, on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala © The Hermitage

Methods and techniques

For those interested in a group retreat, as well as those who have already experienced a couple of retreats and are ready to go into silence and solitude completely on their own, this is the perfect spot. The Hermitage offers a 10-days meditation retreat over New Year’s, a 30 days one in May, a 49 days self-enquiry retreat from January to March, and a three-month retreat from mid-June to mid-September. All are in silence, and include inspiring teachings and guided meditations. The first two also include a daily yoga session. For those who want to go solo, there are five gorgeous cabins available all year round, as well as a completely light-proof stone home for a dark retreat experience with absolutely no distractions whatsoever. The idea, in all cases, is to give yourself the space to go deeply within yourself and reflect upon your life and the essence of who you truly are.

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