A welcome return to quiet — and a break from all the noise of our cellphones, social media and email — is calling. And silent spiritual retreats are answering that call. Andrew Keaveney, teacher and director of digital media at The Art of Living Retreat Center, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, said the increase of those being drawn to these retreats is consistent with the influx in requests they've received.
"In the past we've offered an average of eight or nine silent retreats," he said. "However, this year, due to requests and general interest we've added on three silent retreats exclusively for people new to the practice of silence, in spring, summer and fall."
Silent retreats at Art of Living are intended to be a getaway for the mind, body and spirit, said Keaveney. At the end of the four-day silent retreats, attendants generally feel mentally clear, energized and revitalized and have amassed basic coping skills to practically manage their lives.
"The practice of silence enables us to withdraw our energy and attention from outer distractions, and to come to a space of clarity," he said. "After the retreats, people return to work and to their family better equipped to handle the pressures we encounter on a daily basis."
Interested in taking a silent spiritual retreat to soothe your spirit? Here are six other locations throughout the southeast just waiting to be your spiritual oasis.
Nestled upon the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Ignatius House is a home away from home and safe haven right in the metro Atlanta area. AS your car rolls onto the grounds at the Sandy Springs retreat center, a serenity and quiet can be felt. Silent, directed retreats are offered at Ignatius House, including spiritual direction if wanted, as well as the opportunity to book time when there isn't a scheduled retreat. Highlights of this idyllic house include walking trails for quiet reflection along the banks of the river, a library full of spiritual texts with comfy chairs and scrumptious meals curated by an on-staff chef. Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center, 6700 Riverside Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-255-0503, ignatiushouse.org, @IgnatiusRetreat.
Though Monastery of the Holy Spirit is typically a popular choice for Atlantans during the Lenten season, it also makes a fine choice for a chance to get away in search of quiet. Both individual and group retreats are offered at Holy Spirit, with either a silent, more reflective time or opportunity for community and sharing with like-minded spirits. Walking trails, a lush lawn and lake are some of nature's gifts at Holy Spirit. Make sure to bring extra cash while you're on retreat to purchase either fudge, biscotti or fruitcake, and savor a treat while away from home. The monks bake the pastries themselves and they'll satisfy any sweet tooth. Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 GA-212, Conyers. 770-483-8705, trappist.net.
The three tenets of meditation, silence and contemplation abide at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, just an hour northwest of Asheville. The retreats are purposely kept small, 25 people and fewer, to reinforce a sacred atmosphere of shared and intimate emotional, mental and spiritual growth. The meditation traditions of Vipassana, won-Buddhism, Theravada, Tibetan, Zen and Thich Nhat Hanh are offered here. Opportunities for individual and group interaction with the teachers is available if attending a retreat at Southern Dharma. Southern Dharma Retreat Center, 215 Dharma Path, Hot Springs. 828-622-7112, southerndharma.org.
Cumberland Plateau, the southernmost stretch of the Appalachian Mountains, is home not only to majestic mountain views but an abode for rest, relaxation and reconnection at St. Mary's Sewanee. Also known as The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development, this center welcomes all religious and spiritual traditions for either their scheduled retreats or other group programs. There is also the option to build your own retreat to fit your needs outside of the scheduled ones. St. Mary's Sewanee, 770 St. Mary's Lane, Sewanee. 931-598-5342, stmaryssewanee.com.
Orlando, Florida, often conjures up images of Disney World, sunny beaches — and the glitz and glam that is South Beach in particular — but there is also a place of quiet and San Pedro Spiritual Development Center is one of those places. San Pedro is spread out over 485 acres and key features include a full dining room, a chapel facing the woods and several walking trails for solitude and reflection. San Pedo Spiritual Development Center, 2400 Dike Road, Winter Park. 407-671-6322, sanpedrocenter.org.
Springbank Retreat Center, often touted as Dominican Retreat House for short, is what it has come to be known as a place of spiritual renewal. Springbank is unique in that it intertwines spirituality with other activities and themes. Past retreats, for instance, have focused on pottery, quilting and even drum-making as a conduit for inner transformation. Springbank Retreat Center, 1345 Springbank Road, Kingstree. 843-382-9777, springbankretreat.org.