The idea of going into a silent retreat is a daunting one. We decide to test the water and experience silence for one day at Bali Silent Retreat, an eco-sanctuary located under the sacred Mount Batukaru in Tabanan
“Please refrain from using your gadget inside. If you need to use it, you can come here anytime to do so,” says the reception before handing me a pregnant canvas bag full of linens, bed sheets, and towels while gently instructing me about the dos and don’ts. The dos certainly outweigh the don’ts, which consists of one rule: do not speak unless it is absolutely necessary. The ashram living in the retreat requires guests to be part of a communal living and be responsible for making up their own bed and washing up their dishes.
There are solar-panel powered bungalows, single rooms, and dormitories. I choose the upper single room, for it comes with a balcony that opens up to the jungle and its whole orchestra of noises. Throughout the day, there are meditation and yoga classes. There is also a daily visit to the neighbouring hot springs as well as weekly programme that allows the guests to learn about Balinese culture through food lecture, rice terrace walk, and garden tour.
The retreat is also equipped with labyrinth believed to be able to help you in finding your answer, a library, a medicine garden with a team of excellent gardeners who are always ready to explain the usage of a certain plant, and even a star gazing bed just because. Here, one is encouraged to practice the often-forgotten art of doing nothing or as the retreat’s website wittily said “to simply rest, sleep, eat, and repeat”.
It was such a relief to learn that I can create my own schedule. I can just do nothing and need not worry about its consequences, for the retreat is taking care of me. All I need to do to find something to eat is just to wait for the gong which signifies breakfast, lunch, and dinner time.
Lunch and dinner are definitely my favourite times of the day. The vegetarian buffet was surprisingly tasty and very fresh since it was prepared from the produce of the garden or foraged from the jungle. After filling up my wooden plate with nourishing items such as BBQ beetroot burger, cassava curry, fried rice, and sweet potato casserole, I walk upstairs to my favourite place in the retreat: the dining room.
There, I eat and co-exist in silence with the other guests. Smile and nods are the only means of communication that we use. There is no expectation to make small talks, to impress the others, or to pretend to be something that we are not. Perhaps, self-imposed silence and being offline is exactly the thing that we need to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Daunting? I don’t think so. Now, how do I extend my stay?
Bali Silent Retreat
Banjar Mongan, Penatahan,
T: +62 822 471 39353