A typical day on a meditation retreat will combine various sessions of sitting practice, where the focus is on mindful attention to the breath and learning to relate skillfully to whatever thoughts, emotions, or bodily feelings arise, prayer, chanting of sections from the liturgy, mindful walking, an instructional session from the teachers, three daily meals, yoga/body practice, private or group meetings with teachers, and an evening talk by one of the teachers.
Or HaLev retreats are conducted in social silence. This means that participants refrain from speaking to each other, relieving the great deal of energy that goes into socializing and presenting oneself to others, opening the space for us to settle into a deeper awareness of ourselves, gain insight into our habitual ways of reacting, and explore healthier, more intentional, and more peaceful alternatives. The silence, a new experience for many, can be the most powerful aspect of a retreat, the space which invites an intimacy and evokes an authenticity, an experience of living from a place of depth and meaningfulness, which gives life a richness and grace many have never tasted before. The simple act of eating, when done mindfully in silence, can become a beautiful experience, filling our hearts and souls as well as our stomaches. Walking can become a process of reconnecting, of feeling held, supported, fully embodied, and connected to our surroundings. Prayer, for those who practice, can shift from routine recitation to a deep opening of the heart.
Ours is an open, experimental, and non-coercive environment which welcomes people from all backgrounds and traditions.
5:30am Wake up bell
6:30 Walk/prepare for tefilot
7:30 BREAKFAST Dining Room
8:30 Work practice/Walk
11:45 Sit + Q&A
12:30 pm LUNCH Dining Room
1:15 Work practice (beginner’s group meetings and instructions)
3:45 Walk or Yoga
6:00 DINNER Dining room
9:15 Return to rooms or optional practice
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do you mean by a "Silent Retreat?"
Although Or HaLev retreats take place in "social silence" they are far from quiet. We begin our mornings together in song and chant, and there are opportunities everyday to ask questions. Rather, we take silence in order to give our students the space to delve deeply inward. Therefore, while you're with us, you will not chat with other participants, use your phone, etc. We also ask that you refrain from reading and journaling as well. Over our six nights of practice, we'll gently journey from the world of words and labels into the world of unified being.
How is it Jewish?
Or HaLev offers Judaism as a transformative spiritual path. Through the creation of immersive experiences, we bring seekers into contact with the Jewish teachings and practices that lead to a deeper, more meaningful life. Under the guidance of our expert teachers, we invite practitioners to open their hearts, minds, and souls through a variety of spiritual modalities including mindfulness meditation, song, holy eating, contemplative and meditative prayer, and observing Shabbat as a practice of settling, realignment, unity, and communion.
What if I'm religious?
We welcome you! All Or HaLev retreats are conducted according to halakhah. We serve only kosher food and observe the laws of shabbat. We encourage our participants to make the retreat their own, and support them in fulfilling their personal religious obligations. Communal prayer on Or HaLev retreats is conducted in mixed settings (all genders together), but many of our students choose to pray on their own or not at all.
What if I'm not at all religious?
We welcome you! While the journey we take together on Or HaLev retreats is a spiritual one, we welcome each of our students to take it on their own terms. There is no compulsory religious practice on the retreat. All questions, doubts and beliefs are welcome.
We're here to answer all of your questions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org