Why you need to disconnect at one of these 10 popular silent retreats
Can you imagine turning over your phone for a weekend and spending multiple days in silence?
Maybe the thought of that thrills you! If you’re a parent, you might already have your keys in your hand asking for directions to this Nirvana-sounding place.
However, for some, the thought of disconnecting may feel terrifying.
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No matter how you see it, travelers are frequently choosing this type of getaway at silent retreat centers around the nation. Paying for the prospect of a peaceful weekend and a renewed sense of wellness, travelers are finding that silent retreats are like much-needed mental health spa days.
We are living life at an unsustainable pace. And while life is faster now than ever before, stepping away from life to refocus and refresh is not a new concept.
I don't need to describe our current pace of life to you. You live it every day, right?
Checking emails at red lights.
Weeks and months that are booked full of activities and work events.
Filling the waiting moments with multi-tasking.
Never, ever, ever disconnecting.
When was the last time you had a quiet retreat from life?
Early versions of silent retreat centers were monasteries and nunneries. The people in those institutions chose simplicity and solitude as a way of life. It's totally different today.
Travelers may choose just a few hours, one full day, or maybe a week; but whatever the time allotted, modern-day silent retreats seem to go against our 21st century grain.
We rarely make the practice of guided meditation or silence a life-long pursuit. But perhaps we should work it into our lives more?
What does this have to do with traveling?
This journey to finding peace on our vacation days is known as spiritual tourism! More and more people are opting for these types of getaways over the traditional trips we’re used to booking.
Would you ever consider a weekend spiritual retreat for your next getaway?
If you search, "silent retreats near me" you can find a listing of nearby retreat center locations. Plan a road trip and use your vacation days to recharge your life. But before you go…
Here are some important questions to ask yourself before booking a spiritual retreat.
What are you looking for?
Do you want to spend money on a luxury experience?
Does a minimalist retreat entice you?
Would you prefer an experience with activities, like a silent yoga retreat?
Is budget an issue for you and would you prefer a free silent retreat?
How long can you get away? For example, would you be open to a 3-month meditation retreat, or do you have just 24 hours to spare?
Would you prefer a religious retreat (Catholic silent retreats are very common) or a secular experience (Vipassana meditation retreat is a popular option)?
Where can I find the best silent retreats near Nashville?
1. Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC
Atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, this meditation center promises that you'll come back with greater personal joy, more focus, and a sense of being refreshed. It also allows you to cater your exact desired experience, allowing you to choose your own goal and filter through retreats.
They ask about your retreat goals and offer some of the following options for retreat sessions:
Calm + clear mind
If you don't want to partake in a certain meditation retreat, you can book a room alone or with a guest and stay on the grounds, adding in experiences like yoga classes and massages à la carte.
2. Ignatius House, Atlanta, Georgia
A 20-acre retreat on the Chattahoochee River, this Jesuit retreat center's mission is to facilitate an encounter with God that will bring about spiritual renewal and a life that pays that loving-nature forward. Their retreats are focused on prayer and spiritual direction, as well as Ignatian contemplative practices. Though faith-based, all are welcomed at the Ignatius House.
Offering private rooms and bathrooms, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by a chef, the Ignatius House is a sacred place that offers comfort and respite to those needing hope. Retreat activities also include nature walks and trails.
3. Southern Dharma Retreat Center, Hot Springs, NC
Located in 4 hours east of Nashville, near the city of Asheville, Southern Dharma Retreat center offers a space for what they call, Noble Silence. From the Buddhist Theravada tradition, the idea of Noble Silence refers to a deep silence from evening until after breakfast the next morning. Here is a sample schedule of a retreat day at Southern Dharma Retreat Center. It will give you a good picture of how structured the silent meditations are in this type of tradition.
Full Retreat Day Sample Schedule:
Wake up 630am
First sit 645am
Working meditation 830-930am
Morning Sit 945-11am
Walking Meditation 11-1130am
Sitting Meditation 1130-1215pm
Midday Break 1-230pm
Sitting Meditation 230-3pm
Mindful Movement (yoga, qi gong) 3-345pm
Sitting Meditation 345-430pm
Heart Practice 430-515pm
Walking Meditation 530-6pm
Evening Talk 730-830pm
Walking Meditation 830-9pm
Closing Sit 9-930pm
Lights Out 10pm
This retreat center offers scholarships to those who are interested in attending but who find finances to be an obstacle.
4. St. Mary's Sewanee, Sewanee, TN
St. Mary's Sewanee's mission is to reconnect visitors with life's deepest purposes. An old convent from 1888 and built on the Episcopal faith tradition, St. Mary's offers retreats that focus on silent prayer and contemplative practices. Do you have questions about what to bring? What's included with the registration fee? Answers can be found here.
Take a trip to Sewanee EVEN IF you don’t plan to attend a retreat. You won’t believe the quaintness of this Tennessee town.
5. Bethany Retreat House, Dickson, TN
Right outside of Nashville, you'll find a retreat center on 72 acres run by sisters of the St. Cecelia Congregation. With multiple offerings throughout the year, you'll find affordable day retreats and multi-day themed retreats. This is a good option for those who don’t want too far of a drive or may want to take a big group along.
6. Penuel Ridge, Ashland City, TN
Looking for a less formal spiritual retreat? This retreat center outside Nashville offers a variety of spaces for day retreats or overnight stays for individuals and groups. And (BEST THING ABOUT IT) their prices are super affordable: $39 a day! One reviewer describes her stay in Penuel Ridge's tiny pink AirBnb cottage as “soul medicine.” As a way to limit distractions, there are no TVs and due to location, cell service is almost non-existent. A land-line is set up in the main house for emergencies.
7. Nazareth Retreat Center, Bardstown, KY
An architecturally gorgeous campus, the Nazareth Retreat Center is situated in Kentucky's second oldest city and run by the Sisters of Charity. Just a few minutes from Kentucky's Bourbon Trail (What? Silent retreats and bourbon can go together?! Umm…yeah, those are the best kinds.), Nazareth Retreat Center offers a variety of accommodations and themed retreats including: silent, writing, and private retreats.
8. Well Being Retreat Center, Tazewell, TN
This retreat center is non-denominational, but includes a variety of traditions besides Christianity. Check out their calendar of retreats. It's everything from a 2-night retreat with a Brené Brown curriculum to a 3-night retreat with an indigenous elder of the Tuscarora Nation as he discusses Creation. The most interesting aspect of this retreat center is that they offer a FREE-ish weekend retreat multiple times a year. We consider it to be FREE-ish, because attendees must pay a $40 housekeeping fee and provide supplies for and cook one meal during their retreat. Other than that, no other charge is required.
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9. Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Retreat, Nashville, TN
Want a retreat center RIGHT IN Nashville? Sisters of Mercy Retreat Center is just minutes from the Grand Ole Opry. Offering a serene environment to guests, visitors can choose from private contemplation in chapels to single rooms with private bathrooms for an overnight experience.
10. Dove House Ministries, Nashville, TN
This unique organization hosts a variety of retreats (from silent retreats to couples’ enneagram retreats) at various locations. Dove House Ministries does not have ONE location, but hosts events around the region.
And what if you can’t get away and travel to a retreat?
There are many relaxation apps, podcasts, and meditations available online. If time or budget is keeping you from the spiritual retreat you need, you can find refresh at home using free online resources.
Our favorite faith-based resource for at-home meditation is Christ-Centered Tribe. Enjoy this a sample!
Our favorite non-faith-based mediation resource is: Calm.