Silent retreats

Is quietness key to happiness? Check out the wellbeing benefits of Vipassana meditation retreats.

Vipassana retreats are popping up all over the world, including seven centres in Australia, offering soul-seekers a chance to luxuriate in silence.

Health benefits and stress reduction as a result of meditation are widely known and experienced by many. The 10-day silent retreat teaches the Vipassana meditation technique, with the aim of participants continuing to use the technique in everyday life.

During a retreat the seeker will often take classes, do yoga, spend time in nature, meditate and then meditate some more. There are no phones, internet, speaking or external communication of any kind for 10 days.

At first I thought it would be too hard because every time I tried to meditate my mind got louder,” says Medibank member Paul.  “Although it did relax me, it also frustrated me because I thought I wasn’t doing it right.

“Without the distraction of conversation, you are forced to examine the internal babble of your mind. It can be very confronting. There were challenges during the course, like sitting in the same position for an hour without moving, but I found that with time it happened with much less effort.

“It has definitely benefited my health. I’m much more relaxed when I take the time to meditate regularly. One thing I have taken away from the retreat is that everything is impermanent.”

The course is available to anyone who wants to work on cleaning their mind. It is not aligned with any particular religion or sectarian belief system. It is open to everyone and is offered free – any donation, monetary or otherwise, is your contribution to giving others the opportunity to learn Vipassana.

“I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to do the course. I don’t think I’ll sit another course, but I will probably serve at one, or attend a working bee at a center,” Paul says.

Medibank member Rachel was going through a time of change in her life after a relationship ended, and had found meditation useful in dealing with anxiety and processing emotions.

“A friend, a stand up comedian, talks about going on a silent retreat in his routine – some pretty funny stuff does happen on retreat! I gave him a call and we met up for a more serious chat about his experience, and the benefits he gained from it, as well as how awful it was at times too,” she says.

“The most difficult things can be broken down into ‘the physical’ and ‘the psychological’. Physically it is quite difficult to sit down in meditation posture for so many hours a day. I got legs cramps and a sore back, but that was nothing compared to the psychological challenge.

“Psychologically, you are living in an environment without distraction, so you really are left with your own thoughts. This is great, and part of the joy and benefit of meditation for me is this deep internal processing of thoughts, but it can also be a real challenge. It can be boring, it can be frustrating and you will howl with both sorrow and joy.”

Rachel felt the retreat ultimately benefited her psychological health immensely.

“I felt more calm and more conscious when it was over. I learnt a lot about myself.”

Learn more about residential meditation courses in Australia at dhamma.org.au

Recommended reading - Sweet treats

Recipes

Pear crumble tea cake recipe

The classic tea cake gets a fresh makeover from Thoroughly Nourished Life

Read more
Recipes

Apricot chia bliss balls recipe

Delicious little balls of summer goodness.

Read more
Recipes

Apple, oat, cranberry and chocolate muffins recipe

Simple and satisfying fruity muffins – the perfect 3pm pick-me-up.

Read more
Recipes

Banana trifle recipe

Try this healthier trifle option using creamy vanilla custard, bananas and granola.

Read more
Recipes

Caramel chocolate power balls recipe

Boost your energy with these sweet treats, packed with nutty protein.

Read more
Recipes

Chewy persimmon and ginger cookies recipe

Poh shares a delicious treat, blending the unique flavours of persimmons, pecans and mixed spices

Read more
Recipes

Chestnut and hazelnut cake recipe

The crumbly qualities of chestnuts lend themselves to much more than simply being roasted

Read more
Recipes

Chocolate brownie energy balls recipe

Scrumptious little balls of energy-boosting goodness.

Read more
Recipes

Coconut crepes recipe

Indulge in a naturally sweet, berry-topped feast by The Natural Nutritionist.

Read more
Recipes

Coconut and lime cheesecake recipe

Enjoy irresistable no-bake coconut cheesecake with zesty lime.

Read more
Recipes

Chocolate mandarin cake recipe

This dairy free, gluten free chocolate mandarin cake is a tasty crowd pleaser.

Read more
Recipes

Coco-Cacao Truffles Recipe

Power up your afternoon with these scrummy treats

Read more
Recipes

Creamy coconut berry parfait recipe

Founder of The Holistic Ingredient Amy Crawford shares a wonderfully easy and healthy treat.

Read more
Recipes

Goji and coconut bliss balls recipe

Bliss out on the super-goodness of these delectable treats

Read more
Recipes

Ginger coconut black rice pudding with roasted rhubarb recipe

A vibrant, fruity dessert with a twist of Indonesian flavour

Read more
Recipes

Goji nut bar recipe

Full of the antioxidant goodness of goji berries, these snack bars are a delicious winner

Read more
Recipes

Grilled peaches with vanilla ricotta recipe

Enjoy the last of this season's peaches with this delicious recipe from Rachael Finch.

Read more
Recipes

Healthy cherry muffin recipe

Soft, sweet and low-sugar, these cherry muffins are the perfect summer treat.

Read more
Recipes

Lamington bites with cashew cream and raspberry jam recipe

Whip up these morsels of coconutty goodness and relish the delight.

Read more
Recipes

Mini Chocolate Cakes Recipe

These naturally sweet little cakes are the perfect chocolatey treat

Read more
Recipes

Macadamia and fruit mince Christmas tarts recipe

Bright with Christmas spices, these treats make sweet gifts – or a delectable afternoon pick-me-up

Read more
Recipes

Macadamia and honey frozen yoghurt sundae recipe

A simple, sweet dessert with the goodness of fresh fruit and a satisfying nutty crunch.

Read more
Recipes

Nectarine waffles recipe

Rachael Finch shares a delicious recipe to bid nectarines a sweet goodbye.

Read more
Recipes

Nectarine honeycomb ice-cream recipe

Model Rachael Finch shares an easy, delicious ice cream dessert recipe.

Read more
Recipes

Mini vegan chocolate macadamia cheesecakes recipe

Here's a treat you can feel good about – naturally sweet 'cheesecakes', with delicious macadamias

Read more
Recipes

Overnight avocado, coconut and lemon ‘cheesecake’ recipe

A delicious treat by Amy Crawford, advocate of five:am yoghurt’s Wake Up Be Am:azing initiative.

Read more
Recipes

Peanut butter granola energy balls recipe

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these energy packed peanut butter granola energy balls.

Read more
Recipes

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies recipe

Scrumptious, bite-sized treats to get you through the afternoon.

Read more
Recipes

Peach popsicles recipe

A summery treat, bursting with the natural sweetness of fresh peaches and cooling yoghurt.

Read more
Recipes

Peach cobbler recipe

Savour the sweetness of this scrumptious, fruity treat

Read more
Recipes

Olive oil and sea salt molten brownies recipe

Try these sweet, scrumptious treats for a special afternoon delight.

Read more
Recipes

Piña colada popsicles recipe

Dream of a tropical island with these sweet, coconutty treats.

Read more
Recipes

Pear, apple and blackberry crumble recipe

Crumbly, fruity and nourishing... satisfy your sweet tooth with this dessert from My New Roots

Read more
Recipes

Raw cacao and cashew chocolate mousse cake recipe

Your sweet tooth won’t believe this yummy, chocolatey cake is sugar-free.

Read more
Recipes

Raw mint chocolate mousse recipe

Feel like a healthy dessert? Try this raw chocolate mousse recipe with surprising fruits and herbs.

Read more
Recipes

Quinoa chocolate cake recipe

Soft and succulent, this cake is a decadent delight. Trust us, nobody will guess it's quinoa

Read more
Recipes

Raw chocolate and orange mousse recipe

Rich, creamy mousse with a refreshing citrus twist... this dessert is a chocolatey winner.

Read more
Recipes

Raw macadamia caramel slice recipe

If you're a raw recipe fan, you'll be very tempted by our macadamia caramel slice!

Read more
Recipes

Secret pear pie recipe

With pears picked by her children from their pear tree, Kate Berry shares a heart-warming dessert

Read more
Recipes

Strawberry parfaits with pomegranate and pistachio recipe

A juicy burst of pomegranate makes these sweet vegan parfaits a real treat.

Read more
Recipes

Warm coconut and caramel pudding recipe

A soft, wholesome pudding overflowing with natural caramel – now that's our kind of dessert

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.