Indianapolis Edition

Local Opportunities for Silent Retreats

April Thompson’s “Sacred Silence: Discover the Benefits of Quiet at a Silent Retreat” story on page 22 gives a great overview of what to expect at such an event and what types are available. For those interested, Indianapolis provides opportunities to experience a retreat close to home.

Scott Sweet, a local Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher as well as a licensed clinical social worker and licensed clinical addictions counselor, offers a one-day Silent Retreat that he teaches as part of his eight-week program with CenterPoint Counseling.

Twice yearly, he puts on this communityspotlightprogram, in which he leads students through mindfulness practices in movement and breath, group dialogue and daily home assignments. In the sixth week, he leads the Silent Retreat, involving a day of silence with various mindfulness meditations from eating food to sitting to walking meditation.

“In the Silent Retreat, there’s no verbal communication or eye contact made with others,” says Sweet. In addition, there’s no use of electronic devices, as well as reading and journaling.

“This pause in communication, whether it is human-based or with devices, is where the shift occurs from moving away from the stimulus and retreating into the Self,” says Sweet. “This process builds awareness and a state of being.”

Sweet defines “being” as the “awareness of what’s happening in the now.” He says “being” includes full awareness of current surroundings such as objects in the room and the awareness of bodily sensations such as the breath.

This gives a chance to start seeing the ordinary as extraordinary. The extraordinary could mean that I am breathing, that my heart is pumping and that I can move. We often take these things for granted… but when we think about it, it really is extraordinary,” says Sweet.

As the holiday season approaches, mindfulness practices can bring relief from stress and overwhelm coming from hurried schedules, additional shopping and planning that can cause the mind to focus too much on the future. This can lead to over-stimulus of the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response which can cause insomnia, indigestion and mood imbalances.

Although Sweet’s next MBSR program and Silent Retreat is not taking place until early next year, he offers a Mindfulness Meditation at CenterPoint Counseling every Friday during lunch. He believes even just a weekly meditation can help shift awareness.

For those that can’t cultivate the space to attend a meditation, Scott recommends taking pauses throughout the day. Thoughtful, deep breathing can offer immediate stress relief and a sense of calm throughout your body.

“The idea is to make the time and find place for just ‘being.’ Whether it is for five minutes, two minutes, or just a moment, we can do this at work or at home and come into more awareness by following our breathing patterns."

Another option would be to focus the awareness fully on a nearby object, such as a houseplant or a pinecone. This is a type of nature meditation which Sweet teaches within his Silent Retreat.

Sweet recommends using apps such as Headspace and 10% Happier – Meditation for Skeptics for support. These help educate and lead meditation practices that can build up over time.

Currently, there are several places around Indianapolis, including CenterPoint Counseling, that offer this type of meditation and silence.

Indianapolis Zen Center offers monthly retreats that include sitting, chanting, walking and working. The Fatima Retreat House offers silent directed and self-guided retreats. Friends of Awakening offers a silent Buddhist-based meditation with a Sangha after for mindfulness contemplation on a weekly topic.

“This practice has helped me be who I want to be. I have an idea of how I want to feel and act in the world, and with meditation, it helps me become closer to my ideal, showing up in real life with a peaceful mindset,” says Sweet.

CenterPoint Counseling is located at Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 North Meridian St., Indianapolis. Mindfulness Meditations meet on Fridays from 12:15-12:45 p.m. in room 407. For more information about the weekly meditation and Sweet’s next Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program including the Silent Retreat, visit CenterPointCounseling.org.

Indianapolis Zen Center is located at 3703 N. Washington Blvd., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317- 921-9902 or visit IndyZen.org.

Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House is located at 5353 E. 56th St., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317- 545-7681 or visit ArchIndy.org.

The Friends of Awakening Sangha is located at 4370 Cooper Rd., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-291-1776 or visit FriendsOfAwakening.net.

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