Home > Living > Wellness > We took part in a 5-hour ‘silent night’ retreat and came out very sharp
We took part in a 5-hour ‘silent night’ retreat and came out very sharp

Did you know that a mere two hours of being in silence could make you more intelligent, creative, and attractive?

Or at least, something of that sort. 

With the end of the year approaching at rocket speed, and the hustles and bustles of the city only ever-increasing, there seems to be no time like the present to seek a sanctuary of silence. Recently, we headed to the river banks to the Mandarin Oriental Spa to experience the ‘Silent Night’ programme: a special experience available from 1-15 December 2019. Beyond a name very apt for the festive season, the experience is centred around 5 hours of utter silence — including even the vibration of your mobile phone, and the sight of words and animations on page or screen. Read ahead to find out what happened when we tried it out. 

[All images courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok]

Initial Anxiety is normal

Arriving at the Mandarin Oriental Spa is always a soothing experience. You take the boat across from the hotel’s main building, and you arrive in a little haven of sorts. Once guided to the reception area, you’ll meet your hosts for the afternoon, as you sip a herbal tea to get you in a relaxed state of mind. Ah, but then. 

Initially intriguing but practically terrifying, the 5-hour Silent Night programme invites guests to live in silence for a full five hours. You will ‘speak’ to your hosts using sign language only, and you will be told to put your phone away. Work emails will have to wait, Instagram scrolls will need to stall, and any sign of blue light has no place in the spa chambers. It is somewhat anxiety-inducing, but with time becomes a lesson to be learned and accepted: let go. 

Grey matter is an important matter

There are several reasons why you might partake in the Silent Night programme at the Mandarin Oriental. You’re stressed. You want some time to yourself. You seek the serenity of silence. 

Yet beyond the common stresses of an urbanite, there are a host of studies that support an afternoon in silence, too. According to our therapists, noise pollution can lead to higher blood pressure and impaired hearing. Silence is linked to well-being, and to boosting the body’s immunities. One study even found that a mere two hours of silence could help create new cells in the part of the brain that is linked to learning, remembering, and emotions. Beyond this, silence naturally also relieves tension, and is said to be more effective in relaxing the body than listening to music. Most notably, it has been reported to producing more grey matter in the brain, which is linked to decision-making and working memory. 

In lesser scientific speak: in terms of brains, grey really is the new black. Grey is great. Get yourself in on that grey matter. 

The Silent Night Programme

The Silent Night programme at the Mandarin Oriental Spa approaches the silent treatment in a number of ways. You’ll begin the session with a meditation walk, where you’ll walk barefoot in a quiet room by the river. This is followed by a Yin Yoga session, accompanied by the mere sound of a bell by the instructor for when you need to change poses. Each pose is held for about a minute, and was in our opinion one of the best parts of the experience. 

These two activities are followed by a two-hour Sense of Touch massage, wherein your therapist will only communicate with you through sign language. Pick your oils, adjust the pressure, be told to flip over: it’s actually quite interesting not to open your mouth once to do this, between giggles and a sweet kind of peace of mind. The massage is wholly relaxing on that note, and you’re left alone with your thoughts until they too begin to drift away. You reach a sense of stillness and a form of clarity within your brain. It’s riveting, and wholly relaxing. Our masseuse, Khun Anong of the The Oriental Spa, really deserves a special mention there. 

Dinner in silence

As a single city dweller living in a high rise condo, eating dinner in silence is no new adventure. Nevertheless, there was something peaceful about having dinner alone in the beautiful gardens by Sala Rim Naam and The Oriental Spa. Overlooking the river, we were served an array of healthy spa cuisine dishes (no alcohol, naturally), and not once were we tempted to itch and reach for our phones to text or ‘gram the occasion. 

You know that theory that outlines that certain senses are heightened when others are dampened? Whilst we weren’t sitting in utter silence — raving dinner boats, evening guests, and the ebb and flow of the river persists — there comes a new appreciation for food after the programme. You actually taste the flavours; you’re not thinking about taking a picture of it. You’re not thinking about talking over it. And upon leaving, you feel like saying ‘thank you’ to the quiet staff that was waiting on you, but it feels almost as if you have lost your voice. A whisper does the job. 

Final thoughts out loud 

It’s interesting; from anxiety to absolute peace, how five hours in silence can affect your emotional well-being and your state of mind. 

Granted, you could practice silence at home (meditation is a fine form to try it, too), but the truth is you never really will. You won’t find the time, and you will find excuses. Under ‘Silent Night’ you’ve got the ideal time slot and setting. 

Head to the The Oriental Spa this season for a silent night that isn’t linked in any way to the infamous Christmas carol, yet is still a restorative way to maintain your sanity this season. You’ll come out a changed (and charged) man or woman. 

The half-day Silent Night package is priced at THB 10,000++/person, and the two-hour Sense of Touch massage is priced at THB6500++/person. Both experiences are available from 1-15 December 2019 at The Oriental Spa. For more information, call The Oriental Spa at +66 2 659 9000. 

Lisa Gries
Creative Content Director, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.
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