Bali is replete with cookie-cutter wellness retreats. And while this may be sufficient for those looking to take in a bit of sun, feast on vegetarian cuisine, and sneak in a massage or two, most don’t make for a terribly in-depth experience. Bali Silent Retreat is a bird of another feather.
Built on the site of Pura Dalem, a former ashram and temple, within the UNESCO-protected area of Jatiluwih, the retreat is a peaceful sanctuary for non-denominational contemplation and green living.
“The most significant aspects of the Bali Silent Retreat include the profound peace and silence, and the device-free nature of the area,” says Patricia Miklautsch, the retreat’s co-founder. “In addition, there is no guru and no religion here, allowing people to find their own spiritual insights in their own way and in their own time.”
Bali Silent Retreat offers its guests a safe and comfortable space for spiritual and emotional expansion. Guests are welcome to follow the retreat’s motto, “rest, sleep, eat, and repeat,” as long as they do so in silence, or explore the area’s lush surroundings. Follow a jungle path to the river, or wander through the garden to learn about a variety of local medicinal plants – these are often used as ingredients in the fresh juices served at mealtimes. Check out the retreat’s library before lying down on one of the star gazing beds to admire the celestial display above.
Those looking for silent contemplation of a different kind can try water meditation using water from the holy spring at a nearby family temple or meander through the meditation labyrinth. “Our labyrinth embodies a very powerful ancient practice,” says Patricia. “Each time you make a 180-degree turn in the labyrinth, your awareness also shifts from the right to the left brain or vice versa. This, in turn, can create a receptive state of consciousness.”
While a lot of the work at the retreat is done on a personal level, the eco-sanctuary offers a host of programs to help spiritual-seekers along their journey of self-discovery. These include daily morning and afternoon yoga, along with meditation sessions in the retreat’s open-air bale or octagonal tent. There is also a schedule of weekly events such as talks about Balinese culture and the philosophy behind Bali Silent Retreat’s food. “Every new and full moon, guests can participate in an Agnihotra healing fire ceremony,” says Patricia. “In addition to these programs, we also have bamboo gamelan playing in the History House area in the mornings when guests gather to go to the nearby hot springs and at sunset.”
From the retreat’s inception in 2013, Patricia’s vision has always embodied the motto, “Grow it organically. Cook it fresh.” The garden-to-table philosophy at the retreat, however, is about much more than simply not using pesticides – it also means no commercial fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, the retreat embraces sustainable farming that involves resurrecting dead clay soil and planting what is referred to as “SSSSS”, or super strong self-sustaining seedlings that self propagate.
The retreat’s kitchen uses the produce from its jungle gardens and local farms to prepare three organic, 90 percent vegan (the only exception being free-range duck eggs) buffets per day, and an all-day grazing table with fruit, cookies, and herbal teas. Other than the freshly baked sourdough bread, all of the food is also gluten-free. Some of the retreat’s mouth-watering treats include homemade coconut yogurt, eggplant chips with baba ghanoush dip, young papaya salad with kaffir lime dressing, and beetroot and turmeric sorbet slice.
“The guests are encouraged to remain mindful while savouring each bite of this nourishing food,” says Patricia. “Bringing an element of awareness to your dining experience can make you reconnect to what your body really needs, as well as appreciate the retreat’s stunning location overlooking verdant rice fields and the sacred Mount Batu Karu.”
More than just a space for restful contemplation, Bali Silent Retreat lets its guests switch off from today’s digitalised lifestyle. The retreat is completely Wi-Fi free, and its power outlets are limited to the communal lounge and office areas. But the off-the-grid experience does not stop there. “All our electricity comes from solar panels. We reuse, recycle, and repurpose as much as possible. We have a policy that highlights on garbage in and garbage out, which means that guests who bring non-recyclable garbage with them have to take it away, preferably to their home country,” says Patricia.
Bali Silent Retreat has been nourishing the bodies and souls of its guests for the past six years. And it is Patricia’s hope that the eco-sanctuary will keep providing its guests with the space to breathe and simply be for years to come. “There seems to be special energy in this land. Every week, we observe people heal, awaken, and open their hearts to a new reality which is specific just to them and possibly nearly impossible to describe. This is Bali Silent Retreat’s purpose. This and that the people who are transformed here share their new way of looking at life – for a better planet,” says Patricia.