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Keep quiet: can a silent retreat in Bali really soothe the soul?

Beautiful views, meditative walks and delicious food may create the perfect mood for a mindful break – but our writer discovers that being in the moment is hard work

In Tabanan, central Bali, there’s a silent meditation retreat set in emerald rice paddies with a view of Mount Batukaru. For a neurotic native New Yorker, it wasn’t a natural fit. Being in the moment takes a great deal of effort, and being told to “relax” provokes precisely the opposite response. When I downloaded the Calm app on my phone, I became impatient that it wasn’t loading fast enough. I usually begin my day playing out the worst-case scenario of various situations until I reach a point of such intense anxiety that the only way to cope with it all is to completely detach. I think of this as mindful worrying.

I’d been told the average time to get to the labyrinth centre was 20 minutes but three minutes in and I was nearly there

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