An article in the Independent titled “Holidays: the Appeal of Silence” summarizes the growing interest in retreat settings:
Monasteries and convents are reporting a surge in enquiries for their “tester” long weekends, where spiritually-hungry visitors can sample a life of silence. Secular retreat centres are also booming. And on the internet, would-be hermits can now book solitude by the week.
Mentions Father Cyril, novice master of the Carthusian St. Hugh’s Charterhouse in England and Canadian Anglican priest Cynthia Bourgeault.
A February 20, 2009 audio report (about 3 and a half minutes long) from Deutsche Welle or DW-World.de describes and interviews German hermits. The report, “Almost One Hundred Germans Have Become Hermits,” notes that the majority of Germany’s hermits are women religious.
The report can also be downloaded as an MP3 file.
Podcast episode 105 of Buddhist Geeks is titled “The Forest Dwelling Yogi” and interviews Reginald Ray on
the forest dwelling meditator, a category of practitioner outside of the normal lay / monastic dichotomy. In particular we look at the role that retreat — both group and solitary — plays for the type of practitioner that does intensive retreat but is not a full-time practitioner.
Ray notes how the solitary retreat opens new space in self-awareness, and enhances awareness of one’s body and of details of our physical environment.