The Benefits of Silent Retreats

My Spiritual Direction and Silent Retreat at the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, IN.
Photo by Katie Rea

“All the wonders of life are already here. They’re calling you. If you can listen to them, you will be able to stop running. What you need, what we all need, is silence. Stop the noise in your mind in order for the wondrous sounds of life to be heard. Then you can begin to live your life authentically and deeply.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

“The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.”


A quiet day/silent retreat is a wonderful opportunity for spiritual development!

In the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, we are preparing for the Bishop’s Quiet Day coming up on February 25, 2023. It’s to be held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church here in Nashville. I realized as the date is approaching, I have not focused on the benefits of silence. I’m a fan of practicing Contemplative Prayer and allowing silence to aid my spiritual life. I also love Mindfulness and gained a certification from MTSU in order to further my knowledge in the study.

Thomas Merton, an American Trappist Monk and theologian, describes contemplation as the “rendezvous between God and a person in which one gazes on God in silent adoration and tastes the very goodness of God.” You use a time period of silence to bask in the goodness and love of God. I like to think of it as practicing “being” rather than “doing”. I’m so often focusing on all I have to do; I can forget to stop and just be with God and appreciate my blessings. In the practice of “doing” we can become exhausted and experience feelings of burn out. Practicing contemplation helps to hit the pause button and slow down. We often take God and our life for granted.

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment. Whatever you are doing or wherever you are, you practice the five senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and (if mindful eating) tasting and fully pay attention to your surroundings. So often we are focusing on the multitude of tasks we have to prepare for and are focusing on the future. Or our mind gets stuck in the past with our memories tinged with regret (possibly) or what-if scenarios. Mindfulness allows us to slow down and pay attention to the moment as it is happening. So often, we are on autopilot and don’t fully experience the world around us. Ever found yourself reaching your destination, but couldn’t remember driving there? Or eating your food in a hurry and can’t remember what it tasted like? Practicing mindfulness also helps to hit the pause button and experience the world more fully. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a spiritual exercise, but it can be implemented as such.

Silence offers many experiences and feelings. I’ve done this on my own and participated in silent days and retreats. Most often, I feel a sense of peace and feel refreshed. Other times I can be uncomfortable in the silence and find myself unable to stay still. I found movement to be helpful in this time. I will take a walk into the “wilderness,” and it surprises me each time I find God among my walks.

I would encourage anyone to experience a silent day or retreat and pay attention to whatever feelings which come up for you during this time. It allows you to connect with your inner self and silence the hamster wheel of unending tasks. So often we are stuck in survival mode and on doing and achieving and we forget or lose the ability to appreciate the gift of life. Silence allows us rest and relaxation and a possible opening for God to speak to us.

I started with just 20 minutes a week individually and worked up to doing a Silent Day for few hours. I took the next step and participated in silence for a full weekend. Eventually, I’d like to do a weeklong silent retreat, but I don’t feel I’m quite there yet. I enjoy my time reading, praying or even taking a nap. I find when I take care of myself and my needs, it allows for improved relationships with others.

Feel free to be intentional of starting a habit of silence and/or mindfulness. Just starting with five minutes of silence each day is beneficial. Find whatever best works for your personality and schedule. Find the peace and rest you desire.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.”

Psalm 62:5-6

“When feeling lonely or anxious, most of us have the habit of looking for distractions, which often leads to some form of unwholesome consumption — whether eating a snack in the absence of hunger, mindlessly surfing the Internet, going on a drive, or reading. Conscious breathing is a good way to nourish body and mind with mindfulness.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

More information:

Bishop’s Lenten Quiet Day

February 25, 2023

9 am to 1 pm

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

85 Fairway Drive

Nashville, TN 37214

We will gather for Holy Eucharist at 9 am in the Nave. 

Bring a sack lunch to gather for lunch around noon.

Daughters of the King is helping to host the event.

All are welcome.

Home | Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee – Open, Obedient, Responsive (

The Order of the Daughters of the King- Diocese of Tennessee (

Classes, Groups, Retreats ( Classes on Centering Prayer (On Zoom each Friday at 9 am CT/10 am ET) and a Silent Retreat with Spiritual Direction (March 23-26, 2023. 2pm ET-2pm ET ) to the Monastery Immaculate Conception, Ferdinand, IN.

Monastery Immaculate Conception » Sisters of St. Benedict (

Silent Retreats: 10 Fantastic Retreat Centers In The U.S. For Peace & Quiet (PHOTOS) | HuffPost Life

THE 10 BEST Silent Retreats for 2023 •

Silent Retreat | Meditation Practice | Centre for Mindfulness Studies

What is Mindfulness? – Mindful

Using Zoom for Prayer — Spirituality for Questioning Minds ( How to start your own meditation or prayer group.

Thomas Merton | Biography, Writings, Legacy, & Facts | Britannica

10 Best Thomas Merton Books (2023) – That You Must Read! (

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise: 9781481534949: Thich Nhat Hanh: Books

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation: Thich Nhat Hanh, Vo-Dihn Mai, Mobi Ho: 9780807012390: Books


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