There's a true solace and awakening in silence, especially for ambitious women who are constantly tasked with leading households, teams, and companies. When I was recently given the opportunity to experience stillness and tranquility at Tingalay's Retreat, a Caribbean oasis in the West End region of Negril, Jamaica, I was outwardly excited but could feel the twinge of fear and skepticism rising from my gut.
See, I've never been a fan of total silence. It has been an enemy to me for many years now.
I'd always been afraid of total quiet, especially into my early years, because it meant that either I was alone (something I hated to be) or that something treacherous was brewing in our household that hadn't quite yet erupted. I'd developed a habit of always having the TV on or music playing, even when sleeping, and I'd always try to fill up awkward silences in conversations with laughter or a joke.
So, I decided to challenge myself, welcoming silence as a friend and facing my fears of realization and conviction that could come of doing so, with this trip to Tingalaya's. Here's all I learned about the healing power of silence and the importance of taking time to be totally alone and quiet:
1. It's super freeing to sit in silence in an environment that truly accommodates it.
The whole vibe of the 4.5-acre property embraces you like a hug from your favorite person in the world. The expansive grounds feature rich, beautiful plant life and trees, from palms to willows. The cabins are filled with warm tones of oranges, red, greens, and blues---all hues that have been proven to evoke feelings of calm, peace, and safety.
There are thoughtful touches within each space, like antiques made from organic materials, African, Middle Eastern and Jamaican art, a private patio with a hammock, and the absence of TVs, so you actually have no choice but to delight in the energy of it all. The landscaping enveloping each structure offers a bit of privacy perfect for simply enjoying your own company.
After being greeted by the host, Sophia (who welcomes all guests and cooks both American and Jamaican staples for breakfast), and spending just one hour in my cabin, I really didn't miss the sound of some reality TV rerun or a classic film. And I didn't feel the need to take out my laptop to stream Netflix, either. (Yes, there's WIFI, which, for some, compensates for the exclusion of TVs in each space.)
I found that just enjoying the island breeze while listening to the birds and property's dogs conversing to be super freeing and a welcome start to my silent stay. I swung on my private patio swing, did a bit of journaling, and then took a walk, passing by the on-site kitchen (where I was told guests could cook and share their own meals).
2. Silence can facilitate the best damn sleep of my life.
Typically I only sleep well when I've done something physically or mentally grueling (i.e. working out, finishing up a super busy day, or decompressing after a super stressful experience.) Before the trip, I'd also been experiencing insomnia due to the rigors of balancing multiple client deliverables at once while trying to lose a few pounds and meet a fitness goal by a certain date. The worry and anxiety had gotten the best of me, affecting my sleep.
During my stay at Tingalaya's Retreat, I got the best sleep of my life. By the time evening hit, the calming atmosphere I'd enjoyed throughout the day was literally like taking a sleeping pill.
After taking a steamy shower in my ensuite bathroom, which also had antique touches, included lemongrass-scented toiletries, and featured a somewhat open-air vibe, I allowed myself to fully enjoy the massive bed, enveloped in soft cotton sheets and an embroidered quilt. At night, it was eerily quiet (and dark) which added a bit more allure to the experience. I found that if I challenged myself to become one with my surroundings and trusted God in placing and protecting me at that moment, I'd find better peace to sleep, and it worked.
I am no stranger to Negril's West End, having stayed at Airbnbs and hotels there on many occasions. The area is oftentimes filled with the noise of parties and cliff-diving at Rick's Cafe, motorcycles and cars taking tourists to and from Seven Mile Beach, and the everyday sounds of hardworking people just trying to survive and thrive, but this retreat seemed to insulate me from hearing any of it, providing comfort in true stillness and tranquility.
3. Enjoying extensive quiet moments can tremendously boost my confidence in self.
After having a breakfast of callaloo, plantain, fruit, and Blue Mountain coffee (Jamaica's world-renowned brand) alone in their open-air dining room, I decided to take a walk to their man-made beach and cliff area to enjoy the salt-water pool.
I walked around a bit, admiring the pastel-colored cottages (which guests can also book to have a seaside view from their rooms), touring the chic white bar and lounge area (which made me fantasize about the day when my long-distance bae and I finally tie the knot), checking out more of the landscaping filled with the lushness of local flora. I then ventured to the pool, which I had all to myself, to take in the breeze and think about what I'm thankful for.
The whole view of the sea and the rhythmic way it filled up the pool for my enjoyment just reminded me of the wonders of the Earth, the endless possibilities of man, and how important it is to appreciate the good in life through reflection.
4. Silence helps strengthen my ability to think creatively and without limits.
I spent several days going from the quiet of my room to the beach and pool area, and in those times, I brainstormed ideas centered on self-improvement and impact. Those were key things I wanted to focus on in the new year and I'd made a point to be strategic and more deliberate in reaching my goals in those regards.
One particular thing I wanted to do is finally upgrade my social media presence, particularly on Instagram, and since I'd brought my tripod for the trip, I decided to take a few shots of myself, in a bikini---something I'd been avoiding since gaining weight. I thought, 'Janell, the best way to better engage with people is to be yourself, unapologetically, no matter what transitions or changes you're going through. People can relate to that when it's real.' I got a chance to capture true moments of solace and confidence, and I was super-proud walking back to my cabin later that afternoon.
I was also able to come up with the prototype for a special project that I'm excited to finish and release in the next year---a dream that I'd sat on for more than a decade but could no longer do so once I had the time to truly enjoy the benefits of silence for an extended period of time.
My stay at Tingalaya's Retreat did my body and soul an extreme amount of good, and it reaffirmed why others have deemed it the perfect spot to host yoga groups, small family reunions, and solo sabbaticals. It offered me the chance to truly connect with the best parts of myself, unapologetically and uninterrupted---a peaceful place of enlightenment that I plan to revisit for years to come.
For more on Tingalaya's Retreat, visit their website or follow them on Instagram @TingalayasRetreat.
Featured image by Janell Hazelwood/xoNecole
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Fearless Fund Founders Fights Back After Being Targeted By Anti-Affirmative Action For Investing In Black Women
An anti-affirmative action group is suing a Black-owned venture capital fund organization that specifically invests in Black women entrepreneurs.
The lawsuit was filed on August 2, 2023, by The American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER). It claims that Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, offers a grant contest that racially excludes women who are not Black. The lawsuit claims that the “Strivers Grant” violates Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which mandates that private contracts be made available to all people regardless of race. The group also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the Fearless Fund from closing its application period or awarding grants as scheduled at the end of August.
The Fearless Fund firm launched back in 2019 and awards thousands of dollars in grants to small business owners looking to secure money to grow their ventures. The organization was initially co-founded by actress and businesswoman Keshia Knight Pulliam, along with Ayana Parsons and Arian Simone. However, Pulliam is no longer affiliated with the company. Since its inception, the organization has already seen much success with investors, including PayPal, Bank of America, and General Mills, just to name a few. To date, the firm has raised more than $25 million for over 40 companies, including the popular Black woman-owned restaurant Slutty Vegan.
Both Parsons and Simone are still actively working with the organization and, along with Attorney Benjamin Crump, spoke publicly on the lawsuit during a sit-down interview on The Breakfast Club. Both Parsons and Simone believe that they’re being sued “because” their organization is creating Black and brown female billionaires. During the interview, Parsons says Black women are the most founded entrepreneur demographic who start more businesses than anyone else but are still getting the least. Shocker! According to Simone, their firm not only provides grants to their clients but valuable tools on how to run a successful business.
AAER is led by Edward Blum. Blum’s organization is also affiliated with the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action in college admission. In reference to the Fearless Fund lawsuit, Blum told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) that three white and Asian female entrepreneurs are the ones claiming that the Strivers Grant violated civil rights laws and proceeded to ask Blum to represent them.
As a result of this lawsuit, Simone says she and Parsons are now developing their own legislative order, telling The Breakfast Club, “If you want to use the law against us, we need some more laws to protect us.” As for the next steps, Attorney Crump wants to be clear that this is all of our problem. Crump is concerned that this lawsuit can open Pandora’s box for Black and brown people everywhere, telling The Breakfast Club, “You have to stop him on this. If you don’t stop him now, it’s open season on all of us." But Blum’s organization is acting as if a sin was committed.
Some would argue that this lawsuit is just another attempt of the AAER to dismantle any and all programs that attempt to leverage generational wealth in America, which is concerning. The basis of the lawsuit seems blurred, at minimum, being that it is against progressiveness and equity. The point of the Fearless Fund is to invest in businesses that get looked at last, if at all. So Blum pretending that these inequities don’t exist is problematic in itself, and if he is successful, then Crump is correct; it could very well be open season on us all.
Ben Crump, Arian Simone & Ayana Parsons On The Fearless Fund, Racial Discrimination Lawsuit & More
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Johnny Nunez/WireImage