A Deeper Stillness

For the love of silence and scribbling pens


Are you longing for a real escape?

We live in a busy, noisy time. There’s nothing like it in history. We’re reeling, finding our ways through traffic sounds and buzzing phones, the pressure to always be doing, the niggling feeling that we should be somewhere else.

Yet, to write — to really write — we need to drop down into ourselves and our stories. We need to create a depth of focus that lets us step into the wide, dazzling possibility of the next page.

This is a retreat for people who are hungry for that focus and who are ready for a true break from the clamor of the day to day. It’s for people who are entirely happy to let the world go on without them while they tune into the frequency of cricket songs, scratching pens and thoughts that unwind slowly all afternoon. This is a retreat where silence will be our facilitator, carrying us each forward on our own paths to wherever we need to go most.

Here’s how it works:

We’ll gather between 3-5pm on Friday, June 5th in a beautiful farmhouse on 100 acres of trailed forest and fields just outside the sweet village of Castleton, Ontario. We’ll have a brief orientation at 5, then we’ll share a beautiful, big meal prepared by our on-site retreat chef Emma Brandy before gathering for an evening workshop to help us vision and articulate our wishes, plans and trajectories for the days ahead. We’ll set some ground rules, talk through how to navigate this experience without words, and then, together as a group, we’ll step into silence.

With one exception, we won’t speak again until Monday. Participants will be encouraged to disconnect from their phones and internet. Emma will lay out gorgeous meals at pre-arranged times, with little notes to say what’s gluten-free and vegan and so on — all food sensitivities will be taken into account in meal planning.

The exception to silence will be the opportunity to talk to Sophia for 30 minutes each day. This is perfect for writers who are craving a pep talk, who discovered a plot hole they can’t seem to plug, or who just want to gab about The Bachelorette for a little while. (It happens.) Tears are welcome; writing calls our whole selves forward and it’s likely that there will be crunchy moments. Participants will have the same time slot every day so that they can sink into an easy routine, and opt out if they just want to keep writing.

The rest of the time will be unscheduled and full of freedom. The property has beautiful trails for walking. There’s a rock labyrinth for contemplation and a yurt for stretching and daydreaming. Sleep is encouraged (and probably inevitable), as is soaking in the big bathtub. And of course, in our own mysterious and beautiful ways, we will write and write and write.

We’ll gather again on Monday at 10:30 to step out of silence together. We’ll swap stories about how the weekend went, and share an excerpt or two of what we produced and do a tiny bit of writing together. Then we’ll have a big lunch with celebratory wine and chocolate. We’ll finish up between 2-2:30.

This retreat will be led by our amazing coach Sophia, with the wonderful Emma providing us with meals and support.

“Silence” at this retreat is not defined as the absence of noise, but in limiting our communication with others as much as we can. This means no phones unless there’s a genuine emergency, no googling random facts, or frantic sign language across the kitchen to ask if someone wants you to leave them coffee. We’ll encourage participants to relax into the container we’ve created and to trust that everyone (back home and at the retreat) will meet their own need. Of course, we’re available if something comes up that can’t be ignored.

This is where we’ll be:

This retreat is ideal for people who:

  • Are excited by the idea of not talking to anyone for 4 days… Even if it’s also a little bit terrifying.

  • Have a writing project that’s been aching for more time and attention.

  • Are driven to write and don’t need a lot of structure and instruction in order to get down to it.

  • Are longing for a serious break from Facebook and buzzing telephones.

This retreat isn’t for people who:

  • Don’t want to share their work with others. Even though most of the time is silent, the sharing we’ll do at the start and end is an important component, allowing us to create a culture of connection and shared experience.

  • Honestly can’t go a day without checking Twitter.

  • Need direction or instruction in order to make progress on what they’re writing — there will be one 30-minute check-in with Chris each day, otherwise you’ll be in your own zone.

  • Require AC to be happy. This is a beautiful old farmhouse without modern amenities.


June 5-8, 2020.

All participants will have a chat on the phone with Sophia before their registration is final. We like connecting in person to make sure it’s just the right fit.

To make transit easy and sweet, we’d be happy to connect those wanting to carpool so you can coordinate rides together. There is also a train that gets close, and the retreat center owner can provide shuttle service for a fee. Directions are here.

Rooms and prices:

  • Private bedrooms in the farmhouse: There are 5 small but lovely rooms in a century-old house with shared bathroom. $1,295.

  • “Haven in the meadows”: This is a small private cabin with a queen-sized bed, loft, sofa and writing desk, a short walk from the main house. There’s an outhouse with pedal toilet nearby, shower and bath in the main house. There are battery-operated lights but no outlets. $1,495.

  • “Haven in the hilltop”: This is a small private cabin with a double bed in a loft, and a seating area on the main floor. It’s a 15 min walk from the main house, has an upscale outhouse with pedal toilet nearby, shower and bath in the main house. There are battery-operated lights but no outlets. $1,495.

  • Camping. The property is filled with beautiful places to set up your tent. We can bring you equipment if needed. $970.

When you sign up you’ll be asked for a deposit between $200 and $450 to claim your spot — deposits vary based on room choice. We’ll follow up once your spot is confirmed with an invoice for the balance, and the option of breaking the balance into six monthly credit card payments. There’s no fee for using this service, we just like to be able to offer it. Note, HST will be added to all costs.

To see our financial policies, click here.

Ready to dive in?

Registration opens in January.


There’s an FAQ right here with loads more info.

Here’s what people are saying:

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A Deeper Stillness came to me just when finding the silence was proving a barrier to absolutely everything creative. To be with others, to feel supported, yet to be cleared of the conversations that come ‘at us’ through so many media and in so many sneaky unforeseen ways, was an immense opportunity. I highly recommend this beautiful retreat to any writer who just wants to make space and let the void fill with work and so much wonderful else.

Abigail Pugh


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This retreat was as close to perfect as I can imagine.

Denise Handlarski
Rabbi, teacher, mom