Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2014

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/320391

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Page 20 of 43

T hree days of silence? at's a di cult concept for someone who runs a small business to embrace. But there's no denying that license to ignore email and phone calls for 72 hours is a tantalizing fantasy. Letting go of my tech addiction isn't easy, even for a few days. Like a drunk on the way to rehab, I pull onto the shoulder of the seemingly endless backcountry road northeast of San Francisco to text my daughter, take one last call from a client and set an auto response on email. Other than occasionally checking for urgent text messages regarding a critically ill friend, I'll be incommunicado for the duration. Nestled among Napa-adjacent hills on the outskirts of Vacaville, the Silent Stay Retreat Home and Hermitage beckons like a Tuscan villa. It sits on 25 acres of unsullied rolling hills with expansive views of the sprawling valley below and mountainous foothills to the east. Deer, bobcats and coyote roam undisturbed, and thousands of pinpoints of light sparkle in the night sky. e lovely Mediterranean-style retreat building—with a spacious house at one end inhabited by hosts Ruth and Bruce Davis—has been remodeled with six guest rooms (some with en suite bath) that accommodate nine people. But while I'm here, just one other guest and I tiptoe around each other. It's tempting to connect—a er all, we have much in common—but we both refrain. I expect the rst evening's half-hour meditation to be guided, but a er a few melli uous words from Bruce, it, too, is silent. Except that I have an accumulation of mucus in my throat that I just can't ignore, so every few minutes I have to swallow and it sounds ridiculously loud in the silence. Can everyone in the meditation room hear me? I wonder how I'll get through two meditations a day without embarrassing myself, but ultimately decide not to worry about it. Next morning I awake refreshed a er nine full hours of sleep—a rarity for me—and only one horri c dream. Sunrise is lovely but I'm instantly restless thinking of all I "should" be doing that day. Outside my window an unconcerned bobcat trots across the eld behind the house. It seems somehow symbolic, telling me to just keep on moving forward. e one-hour daily morning meditation goes quickly (and is blessedly mucus-free), and I'm grateful to have private time a erward with Ruth. Experienced in these realms, she works with me to "sink into" my heart and discover qualities lurking there, giving me a simple tool that will inform the rest of my stay. Oh, and maybe the rest of my life. So. A whole day of no talking. Nothing to do. As it unfolds, the silence creeps in like a gentle gi , an almost guilty pleasure. Instead of checking email, editing stories and posting payments, I walk the land, swing in a hammock, disappear into my latté and gold bedroom and tuck myself into high-thread-count linens in the middle of the a ernoon. I also read an entire book—Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven—which prepares me for the unhappy outcome to those urgent medical texts. For the Davises, who have been operating the nonpro t retreat since 2012, this is the near-idyllic life they've created, modeled on a retreat they ran in Italy for 12 years prior. Unlike many retreats, for this one you bring and prepare your own food—whatever you like, even wine if you're so inclined. You'll have space in the fridge and a dry goods cubby. ere's an amply stocked larder of staples in a modern kitchen, and an inviting electric replace fairly begs you to sit for a cup of tea. e house is quite comfortable and easy on the eyes, and a bookshelf o ers inspiring reading material. By my day of departure, I'm feeling safe, calm and, for me, quite still. My meditations are deeply moving and I'm wanting to stay longer—10 days would be ideal. But three is good, too, and easier for many of us to arrange. If you can take the time, go. e Davises will work with you if you're nancially challenged, and the solitude and Bruce's calming voice are exquisite balm to a city soul. —3570 Cantelow Rd, Vacaville, CA 95688, 707.474.4833, www. silentstay.com A Reboot for the Soul DROP INTO SILENCE ~ B Y A B I G A I L L E W I S ~ june/july 2014 21 WLT-JUN-JULY-26.indd 21 5/26/14 2:09 PM

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