Here at The Things My Eyes Have Seen, I like to encourage people to seek out unique experiences when traveling. Try networking with people around you; asking locals what they would want to do if they had the day free. Don’t be afraid to create your own interesting ways to immerse yourself in the location and to meet the people who live there. For me, participating in a two-day, SILENT meditation retreat in Chiang Mai with my mother was one of the most unique parts of my trip to Northern Thailand. It was even on my Thailand Travel Bucket List. The best part? The price makes it accessible to nearly any traveler’s budget; you only had to pay for the white clothing (if you don’t have your own) and make a donation towards their monastery!
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Location of Retreat: Chiang Mai, Thailand
What do I mean when I say silent meditation retreat?
I mean that the only time you will be speaking is when you chant before meals …or at the end of the retreat when you get to chat and reflect with the monk and other participants.
My mother and I chose to do the retreat as a way to connect with the Buddhist culture and religion in Thailand and to learn more about meditation. She claims that I was desperate for some silence after traveling together for some time [she IS a chatty lady...] But really though, we both enjoy yoga and meditation so it was the perfect thing to do for a few days. We spoke with the receptionist of our hotel, they suggested that we look in to the Monkchat meditation retreat.
Upon arriving at the meeting location in Chiang Mai; we purchased the completely white clothing to wear during our time at the retreat and an introduction to Buddhism and meditation. Then they drove us to the remote monastery where, from the moment we arrived, we would be dedicated to meditation and silence.
We spent the entire day in meditation. The time spent at the retreat was divided up by different positions of meditation and small breaks. We practiced sitting, lying, standing, and walking meditation. They taught us how to connect with our breath, silence our mind, and numb ourselves to distracting body sensations.
I enjoyed the comparison of meditation to a shower; that you must cleanse your mind through meditation as you cleanse your body. We learned the three main teachings of Buddhism are;
2- Don’t do bad.
3- Clear your mind.
There is an overwhelming feeling of peace found in meditation and the Buddhist lifestyle. They provided the perfect atmosphere to teach anyone who is interested in learning, on any budget.
-The Monk Lifestyle-
Here you are able to learn about the pure and simple lives of the monks; eating only what we needed for sustenance and in a non-gluttonous manner. You will practice chanting, chanting for reflection and intention before all meals. Eating simple, vegetarian meals in an appreciative and non-gluttonous way.
Most of the food that the monks eat is offered to them daily by the community. You will also practice the proper way to offer monks food.
Embarrassing Story: THAT ONE TIME I was Over-Ambitious with Hot Sauce…
One morning during breakfast, we were having a simple noodle soup. There was hot sauce available to add flavor to the soup. I added a generous scoop to my soup then took a seat. We chanted about eating not for taste or enjoyment, but for sustaining our bodies. I then took a bite… of the spiciest food I have ever put in my mouth. Now I love spicy food, but this was another level. I began to panic, being in an obligatory position to eat the sickeningly spicy food. I tried [non-verbally] to get my mother’s attention and signal for help. She graciously helped me by splitting our soups together and mixing it like some sort of mad scientist in a lab after she realized why I was suffering. Nobody around us knew what was going on as they silently ate their soup. Meanwhile, we were trying to contain our laughter and desperation.
-Do It Yourself-
The retreat was one of the most serene places My Eyes Have Seen
These two days were enlightening and provided a more authentic look into the lives of the monks. Spending time in absolute silence gives you a new perspective on life and all of the ‘meaningless’ chatter. I left the retreat with a desire to have more authentic connections with people and to the places I go. If you find yourself in Chiang Mai, I encourage you to consider attending for yourself
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Leave me a comment below,
Do you think you could handle a couple days of silence?