Meditation Retreats

Silent Meditation Retreats Move Home—and Real Life Intrudes

Plagued by a daily diet of coronavirus stress and divisive politics, Truett Davis attended a week-long silent retreat.

However, during the pandemic, breaking away from living in a quiet forest or a mountain hut was not an option. “I’ll be sitting in front of my zoom camera with my eyes closed,” said Mr. Davis, a 26-year-old yoga teacher from New Orleans, just before he stopped talking last month.

Avoiding distractions is essential for silent meditation retreats. In days leading up to the pandemic, participants typically had to give up all conversations and technology, just eat, and focus on their journeys inward. Now, zenning at home can be far more of a challenge. No idle chat with family members. No alcohol. No sex. No Netflix.

Mr. Davis made it easier for himself by driving 500 miles away and crouching in an unoccupied house that belonged to his parents. He predicted that one of the hardest things to do would be avoiding music chucked out in the shower. “I wasn’t cheating,” he said after speaking again.

Others have rented hotel rooms, Airbnbs, or recreational vehicles to escape temptation. However, some say there are benefits to staying in a bedroom with the door closed. If they can improve their concentration while people are clinking pots in the kitchen and leaf blowers are roaring outside, they may be able to keep that peace of mind longer.

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