Silent retreat

08/13/2019

I went on a 5 day silent retreat in the Ananda yoga and meditation retreat in California. This meditation centre was established 50 years ago as an original site of the Ananda community, one of the largest spiritual communities in the world. It is situated in Sierra Nevada foothills outside of Nevada City. Ananda people practice Kriya and Hatha yoga and live by the principle of "plain living and high thinking". Withdrawing your thoughts from the outer world and its sensations and going silent is a powerful tool. What does silencing practically mean in our modern world? I didn't speak, didn't use phone or any devices, didn't journal, didn't listen to music, didn't even read with the exception of one spiritual book. I ate organic vegetarian meals 3 times a day, participated in guided yoga lessons and meditations, rested in the gardens, and stayed in a rustic cabin surrounded by the forest full of animals such squirrels, birds, skunks, deer, bear and even mountain lions. I saw two cubs but luckily not the mother or I would not likely be writing this blog. What I like about the Ananda community is that the spirituality is not too overwhelming, they are very friendly and welcome all religions and atheists. What brought me to the silent retreat? Several reasons. The formal one is that it is part of the requirement for my Search Inside Yourself Teacher certification. From a personal perspective I wanted to deepen my meditation practice. I won't lie, it took a lot of courage. As an extrovert who finds energy in the outer world and through interactions with other people, I literally dreaded it. I thought I was going to be anxious to be disconnected from the world, my family. What if a war starts and I won't even know? Or what if I have some demons inside that will come out? My retreat was pretty moderate and ideal for a first timer. I was also drawn to the yoga element of it as I have been practising for 14 years and always wanted to learn more about the Kriya yoga lineage. I was also fascinated by the work and fame of their guru Yogananda, who was the first yogi to bring yoga and in fact an entire spiritual revolution to America. He was very influential and his books were regularly recommended and quoted by nobelists, politicians, writers, and even business leaders such as Steve Jobs.

I definitely recommended a silent retreat to everyone, just make sure you choose wisely. Some of them are more strict and don't allow even eye contact and reading and restrict physical activity, so make sure that you choose what fits your needs and beliefs.