silent retreats in a forested area with olive trees just beyond built-in bookshelves

These Are the Most Meaningful Silent Retreats in the U.S.

10 min read

As women who lead the charge at our creative firms, the constant search for the next big idea can lead to burnout and mental fog. A silent retreat strips away the noise of daily demands, allowing space for deep reflection, rejuvenation, and the kind of introspection that ignites creative fires. It offers an opportunity to step back from your life and work, to see the broader picture and return with a sharpened focus, refreshed perspective, and perhaps, a breakthrough idea that has been waiting for the silence to be heard. Read on to learn about what to expect from a silent retreat. We also list the top ten silent retreat destinations in the continental U.S.

Here’s What to Expect from a Silent Retreat

Attending a silent retreat can be a profoundly transformative experience, deeply personal yet universally enriching in its effects on participants. At a silent retreat, the absence of external distractions encourages you to truly live in the present moment. This can lead to profound discoveries about yourself and your connection to the world. Silent retreats offer an opportunity to reset, recharge, and potentially transform your approach to daily life. From guided meditations to digital detoxes, here’s what you might expect at a silent retreat.

Deepened Meditation Practice

sound bath meditation at the living retreat center

Silent retreats create an environment where meditation becomes the core focus, allowing participants to dive deeper into their practice far beyond what daily life typically permits. In the quietude free from everyday chatter and the buzz of technology, individuals find themselves in a setting that supports profound introspection and the development of a sustained mindfulness practice. This depth of practice is fostered not only through scheduled meditation sessions but also through the pervasive silence that envelops all activities, encouraging continuous mindful awareness.

The extended periods of silence make way for a deeper exploration of various meditation techniques, whether it be mindfulness, loving-kindness, or others, facilitating a greater understanding and experience of these practices. Participants often report a significant deepening of their meditation experience as they learn to navigate and explore the layers of their consciousness in a supportive and distraction-free environment. This deepened practice can lead to lasting changes in how individuals relate to their thoughts and emotions, fostering a more present, calm, and balanced approach to life.

Digital Detox

In today’s world, where digital devices constantly demand our attention, silent retreats offer a rare and valuable opportunity for a digital detox. By setting aside smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices, retreatants can break free from the incessant pull of notifications, social media, and email, allowing for a return to a more natural rhythm of life.

This unplugging helps foster a newfound awareness of both the internal and external worlds, encouraging participants to become more attuned to their thoughts, feelings, and the subtle beauty of their surroundings. The mental space cleared by disconnecting from digital life can be profound, offering a sense of peace and relaxation that is increasingly difficult to find in the modern world. This detox is not just a reprieve but can also instill healthier digital habits and a greater appreciation for direct, unmediated experiences.

Connection with Nature

Silent retreats often take advantage of the healing power of nature, situating participants in environments that naturally foster tranquility and reflection. The settings for these retreats—whether in forested lands, by the ocean, or amidst rolling hills—play a critical role in the retreat experience, offering a sense of grounding and a direct connection to the earth.

This connection is enhanced through activities like nature walks or simply spending time outdoors in silence, which can shift perspectives and deepen one’s sense of belonging in the world. The natural world, with its cycles and rhythms, becomes a teacher, reflecting back the qualities of resilience, interconnection, and inherent beauty. For many, this reconnection with nature is a source of profound wellbeing and insight, offering a fresh perspective on their place in the larger web of life.


The conducive environment of a silent retreat is a fertile ground for self-reflection. Stripped of the usual distractions and social interactions, individuals are offered a precious opportunity to look inward, confronting thoughts, emotions, and patterns that are often overlooked in the hustle of daily life.

This journey inward can illuminate personal truths, beliefs, and behaviors, offering clarity and insight that can be transformative. When you stay silent and eschew talking processes, you externalize the internal dialogue, providing a mirror to one’s innermost self. This introspection is a powerful tool for growth, self-understanding, and the cultivation of a more authentic and aligned life.

Community Feel

Despite the absence of verbal communication, silent retreats foster a unique sense of community and connectedness among participants. Sharing space and collective silence creates an unspoken bond, a mutual understanding, and a shared experience that is profoundly connecting.

This communal aspect of silent retreats can be a deeply comforting and supportive experience, reminding individuals of their common humanity and the unspoken connections that bind us. The shared journey of silence and reflection often leads to a profound sense of solidarity and companionship, even without words, highlighting the powerful ways in which humans can connect on levels beyond conventional communication.

Physical Activities

Complementing the mental and spiritual practices, physical activities like yoga and walking are integral parts of many silent retreats. These activities serve to bridge the connection between body and mind, enhancing physical wellbeing and deepening the meditative experience.

Engaging in these practices in silence allows for a heightened awareness of the body’s movements, sensations, and the breath, fostering a holistic sense of presence and well-being. This embodied approach to spirituality recognizes the inseparable link between body and mind, offering a pathway to greater health, vitality, and mindfulness.

Fuel your creative fire & be a part of a supportive community that values how you love to live.

subscribe to our newsletter

Emotional Release

The introspective nature of silent retreats, combined with deep meditation and supportive environment, often leads to emotional breakthroughs and releases. The quiet allows suppressed feelings and unaddressed emotions to surface, offering an opportunity for healing and processing that might not occur in the busy flow of everyday life.

Facilitators and guides at these retreats are typically well-prepared to offer support and guidance through these emotional landscapes, providing a safe space for individuals to explore and express their feelings. This aspect of the retreat can be among the most challenging but also the most rewarding, offering profound personal insights and leading to significant emotional cleansing and transformation.

Structured Schedule

The structured schedule of a silent retreat, carefully balancing meditation sessions, meals, and free time, provides a supportive framework that allows participants to fully immerse themselves in the retreat experience without the distractions of planning or decision-making.

This structure is designed to support the deepening of meditation practice, facilitate self-reflection, and ensure that all aspects of the day contribute to the overarching goal of mindfulness and presence. Participants often find that this structured approach helps them to engage more fully with each moment, whether they are sitting in meditation, enjoying a meal in silence, or simply walking through nature. The routine itself becomes a part of the practice, teaching discipline, and mindfulness that can extend beyond the retreat into daily life.

The Top Ten Most Meaningful Silent Retreats in the United States

Each of these retreats offers a unique approach to silence, meditation, and personal growth, set against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful natural environments in the United States. Whether you’re drawn to the serene mountains of Colorado, the rugged coastlines of California, the tranquil forests of Maine, or the spiritual communities of New York and North Carolina, these silent retreats provide an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reconnect with yourself and the world around you.

Rolling Meadows Retreat, Coastal Maine

Rolling Meadows Retreat offers a sanctuary of peace and serenity in Coastal Maine, where silence speaks volumes. Specializing in silent retreats that weave together yoga, meditation, and breathwork, this retreat center is dedicated to providing clarity and rest for both the mind and soul. 

Its programs are meticulously designed to support deep personal reflection and connection, offering participants a chance to retreat from the noise of everyday life and discover a deeper sense of self in the tranquil embrace of nature.

Esalen, California

Esalen Institute from the air in May 1972

Perched on the rugged coastline of Big Sur, California, Esalen stands out not just for its breathtaking ocean views but also for its rich tapestry of workshops and accommodations. With a legacy that attracts thinkers, artists, and seekers, Esalen’s campus features an array of amenities including organic farms, gardens, art studios, and the iconic clothing-optional cliffside bathhouse with natural hot springs. 

This holistic center offers a unique blend of natural beauty, community, and exploration of human potential, making it a nurturing ground for personal and societal transformation. If you’re looking for a place to start your own meditation practice or connect with like-minded individuals, Esalen is the space for you.

Drala Mountain Center, Colorado

Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Drala Mountain Center is a haven for spiritual exploration, surrounded by the tranquil beauty of pine and aspen forests. This center is celebrated for its inclusive approach to meditation and spiritual practice, incorporating Indigenous wisdom traditions and contemplative arts into its programs. 

Its dedication to fostering a community of basic goodness and enlightened society makes it a special place for those from all walks of life to deepen their personal practice and connect with the natural world.

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York

Situated amidst the serene Catskill Mountains, Zen Mountain Monastery offers a unique blend of Western Zen Buddhism to practitioners of all levels. From weekend introductions to extended residential programs, the monastery provides a structured path for exploring Zen practice in the context of modern life. 

Its picturesque setting and commitment to a living, breathing practice of Zen make it a compelling retreat for those looking to deepen their understanding of Buddhism and integrate mindfulness into their daily lives. You’ll leave feeling effortlessly calm and refreshed from your period of silence, which is why Zen Mountain Monastery is one of our top wellness retreats.

Prama Institute and Wellness Center, North Carolina

The Prama Institute and Wellness Center, set against the backdrop of Asheville’s natural beauty, offers a 3-day Silent Meditation & Yoga Weekend Retreat that combines the tranquility of silence with the grounding practices of yoga and meditation. 

This silent meditation retreat is designed to provide professional guidance in a setting that inspires both introspection and rejuvenation, making it an ideal escape for individuals seeking to balance their mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

6 Day Roots of Compassion Silent Mindfulness Retreat, Washington

In the lush surroundings of Bow, Washington, the 6 Day Roots of Compassion Silent Mindfulness Retreat offers a deep dive into the practices of compassion and mindfulness. This wellness retreat focuses on transformative experiences, guiding participants toward a greater understanding and practice of compassion in daily life. 

It’s a journey of personal discovery and emotional growth, set in a supportive and serene environment that encourages reflection and connection.

Sunrise Ranch, Colorado

Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, is more than just a retreat center; it’s a vibrant community dedicated to spiritual growth, personal development, and sustainable living. Situated in the picturesque foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the ranch offers a variety of workshops, seminars, and retreats that explore a wide variety of meditations (including walking meditation, zen meditation, sky breath meditation and more), emotional support, and personal growth. 

Its holistic approach to spiritual practice and communal living makes it a unique place for those seeking to deepen their connection with themselves and the world around them.

Gainesville Retreat Center, Florida

Nestled within the heart of Florida’s lush forests, the Gainesville Retreat Center is a peaceful sanctuary offering deep meditation and yoga practices. Its serene setting provides an ideal backdrop for personal fulfillment and growth, with miles of hiking trails for quiet contemplation during your meditation retreat. The center’s emphasis on community, along with its variety of retreat options, caters to those seeking a deeper connection with nature and themselves through mindfulness and meditation. Keep an eye out for the Center’s upcoming women’s retreat.

Menla Retreat & Dewa Spa, New York

In the majestic Catskill Mountains, Menla Retreat & Dewa Spa combines the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhist practices with the luxuries of a modern wellness spa. This unique retreat center offers a holistic approach to well-being, integrating spiritual practices with health and wellness treatments. It’s an idyllic place for anyone looking to explore the intersection of spirituality and health, offering a retreat from the hectic pace of modern life. 

Participants can immerse themselves in a variety of activities designed to nurture the body, mind, and spirit, including meditation retreats, yoga, and holistic health treatments. Surrounded by nature and supported by expert practitioners, visitors can experience personal healing, transformation, and a deeper connection to their inner selves.

Returning from Your Silent Retreat

As you return to your regular life, you’ll likely find that the profound silence you embraced has lent you a clearer voice. The stillness, far from empty, is full of the nuanced insights and renewed creativity you’ve been seeking. For women who helm creative companies, the return from a silent retreat isn’t just a return to the status quo but a powerful re-entry with a reinvigorated spirit, brimming with new ideas, and a deeper understanding of oneself. This transformative journey offers more than just a pause. It provides the tools and insights to thrive creatively and personally, making a silent retreat not just a retreat from the world, but a bold step towards embracing it with newfound strength and vision.

Have you attended a silent retreat? Let us know in the comments below.