My friends in the Portland meditation community always seem to be talking about meditation retreats. It seems like every few months one of them is headed off to the mountains, to the San Juans, to the beach, a spot in the country, spending the better part of 24 hours to 7 days with others in silence.
I haven’t done this myself, but it always raises questions for me. How would I fit something like this into my schedule? What special things does a long period of stillness offer? Should this be part of my path?
If you are asking yourself these questions, check out How to Create a Mini-Retreat at Home (Trike Daily, 19 Mar 2019) by Chris McKenna. This article was originally published under the title, Getting Real About Exhaustion (Inquiring Mind, Fall 2013), and the emphasis on mini-retreat-as-restoration-of-body-&-spirit comes across very strongly.
Not all meditation practices are silent, but those that are might offer a special health benefit that is simply the silence itself.
Scientists and doctors have known for decades that loud noises are dangerous, and can cause hearing loss, both in the short- and long-term. But how about the everyday racket, the sounds of heating systems, car engines, hallway conversations, and YouTube songs; Does steady exposure to “noise” affect our health? Is there anything to be gained by lowering the volume, perhaps even spending part of the day in silence?
Here are some links to explore on this topic:
Can a smartphone (or tablet, or laptop) be conducive to the cultivation of mindful awareness? It just might if it happens to equipped with a meditation app. The NY Times Personal Tech file published reviews of four iOS and Android meditation apps, Calm, Headspace, Happier, and Digipill that claim to help users calm down, cultivate awareness, get better sleep, and so on.
NOTE: Some of these apps are free and some are not. I have not tried any of them and I am not endorsing any of them. If you decide to try one, let me know what your experience is like.
Update (Mar 30, 2015): Robin passed along info about another app: Simply Being – Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Presence (available for iPhone and iPad).
Getting enough sleep is proving to be a problem for people of all ages and I have written several times about ‘sleep issues’ in this blog (here and here). The NY Times Well blog brought this subject back to my attention today with the post, “Meditation for a Good Night’s Sleep.”