Slipping into Silence at Sunburst

By Steven Libowitz   |   February 13, 2020

Over the last few years, the Dive into Silence weekend retreat at Sunburst Sanctuary has provided respite for all sorts of seekers, including at least one Montecito resident who wanted to find some solace after all the nervous-system challenges of the Thomas Fire and debris flows in the winter of 2017-18. Others have attended as a way to find ways to make big changes in health, increase self-discovery, and/or alter one’s outlook on life. But you don’t need to be desiring anything other than whatever experiences occur in silence, discovering for yourself the joy and opportunity of quietness at a powerful group retreat.

Attendees at this year’s Dive into Silence event – slated for February 20-23 at Sunburst’s Lompoc sanctuary – will have the chance to learn and experience powerful practices that might leave you feeling aware and present, including guided walking and sitting meditations, chanting, contemplation through the use of mandalas, sacred music and yoga and other guided movement. But the greatest gift, at least on my retreat back in February 2018, was the opportunity to be with what arises – or, more accurately, falls away – when nobody’s talking.

That’s why plenty of unstructured time is built into the schedule where participants can be by themselves in any of Sunburst’s community spaces that include a spacious modern version of a rustic lodge, a meditation temple and a chapel, or wandering around the sanctuary’s magnificent 4,000-acre space that include rolling oak-dotted hills, meadows, hiking trails, and lots of wildlife. Nourishing meals prepared by the staff are served three times a day (mindful eating as shaped by Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the highlights for me – who knew oatmeal could be such a fulfilling experience?) while guests will also be able to take home practical tools for creating a wider, calmer expression of life back home.

All meals, programs and activities are included in the sliding scale donation of $175 to $300, and onsite lodging and camping options are available for an additional donation ranging from cabins ($20/night per person, if sharing) to tent or vehicle for camping ($15/night), or you are welcome to commute from home or a hotel. Call (805) 736-6528 for more information or to make a reservation, email, or visit


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