An entire day without talking in Ubud, Bali
“I could never do that,” was the reaction most people had when they heard I would spend an entire day without talking. That meant no cellphone, no computer — and no music with words. Just me, alone with my thoughts for 24 hours.
The day of silence was the day I was looking forward to most during a recent five-day stay at the peaceful One World Retreats near the town of Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali.
I’ve always found it interesting how uncomfortable most people are with silence, talking about nothing just to fill the air with noise. But as a writer, I have always welcomed silence to collect my thoughts.
“It’s time to contemplate because I believe when we are in silence, we listen more,” said Iyan Yaspriyana, who has been teaching yoga and meditation at One World since 2007.
The day of silence is also practiced by the Balinese people once a year. On this day the whole island stops.
“Silence, for me, is the day for freedom — freedom from any task, any responsibility to other people. You don’t need to do a thing people normally do. It’s a day for the self completely,” Yaspriyana said.
A bustling little tourist town located in East Bali, I came to Ubud to further my yoga skills, learn meditation and take a time out from life. Chockful of shops selling massages, yoga clothing, art and every trinket known to man, Ubud has become one of southeast Asia’s yoga hotspots, attracting people from around the globe in search of serenity in a tropical paradise teeming with unique culture.
Outside my room at the retreat centre, butterflies lightly flutter through a lush, green forest of lanky palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. A never ending chorus of chirping birds fills the air with delightful melodies, making it easy to clear my mind from the constant string of thoughts swirling through my head during meditation. Escaping the world is easy at a place like this, especially on a day of silence.
I was particularly interested to see how 14 women could go an entire day without talking. Many took off to various areas of the centre to be alone, but a handful — including myself — gathered around the pool to lie in the hot sun.
Normally in this kind of circumstance I would feel obligated to talk to my new peers, but it was refreshing not having to say one word.
Three of us later gathered in the afternoon for a guided walk through the dazzling green rice fields commonly found in Bali. The silence again was refreshing, allowing me to observe the peaceful rural life instead of being lost in conversation.
Our silence was over the next morning once we had finished two hours of yoga and meditation as the sun rose over the active volcano, Mount Batur.
he endless chatter that erupted during breakfast was deafening, with everyone anxious to spill their thoughts over the last 24 hours.
One girl slept the day away while another decided to get her first tattoo. Much to my surprise, I shed a few tears over a failed relationship.
“It was extremely enlightening,” said Stephen Roberts, who struggled with not checking his cellphone for the first three hours of the day. The 51-year-old from San Francisco eventually embraced the silence once he put his cellphone at the bottom of his suitcase.
“I really found there was some peace and ease in the rest of the day,” Stephens said. “It really was lovely.”
IF YOU GO
Since 2003, Oneworld Retreats has been offering personal and group journeys, offering a wide variety of retreats ranging from adventure and cultural experiences to discovering the hidden passions within. For more information visit www.oneworldretreats.com.
- More than 90% of the population practices Balinese Hinduism (the rest of Indonesia is Muslin). Everywhere you look, woman are making offerings of rice and brightly coloured flowers, blessing the things they interact with. Nature plays a central part in the mythology of Hinduism. Everything, including plants, rocks, animals or non-living objects, has its own power, which is the power of the God.
- Health and wellness services in Ubud exploded following the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and subsequent movie, Eat Pray Love. The town is regarded as the cultural centre of Bali.
- It is common practice for Balinese to visit a healer – before or instead of seeing a western-style medical doctor.