I just return from a two day meditation program of the CMU university of Chiang Mai, Thailand. And it a very nice experience to get into meditation!
We started at Tuesday afternoon at 13:30 at the Wat Susan Dok, a little bit east of the old town. There were around 30 participants. People from all over the world but a lot of Germans. We started with a short introduction about Buddhism near the temple. By taxi we were brought 15 km out of town where they have a meditation center in the middle of the nature. Strange to hear the birds after spending two weeks in big cities.
After the check in (two persons per room, simple but clean) the meditation course started. We’ve learnt four types of meditation: sitting, standing, walking and lying. The only thing you have to do is to focus on an object. Here they use the breath (in/out) or abdomen(up/down). Of course there are a lot of other objects (candle, statue, mantra etc.) but they keep it simple.
After that we had dinner (monks don’t eat normally in the evening by the way) and another session of meditation. Because there are a lot of people who are new into meditation they start calm with blocks of 10 minutes. But gradually it is built up to 20 minutes. On the second day the meditation is self led during 90 minutes so you can choose how and how long you meditate.
We went to bed around 21:45 to be woken up at 5:00. Quite early, but that’s life of a monk. We started with some meditation, had to offer rice to the monk and had a discussion with another monk. I asked why monks eat meat while non violence is one of the rules. The answer is that they get the good offered, so there’s often no choice then eating it. But by choice they are vegetarian. A lot of questions were asked about the suffering. The main conclusion is that you have to love in life without attaching your self to prevent suffering.
After that some mediation, a lunch and again meditation (both self led), to be brought to the city center around 15:00. So it’s more a 24 hours experience than two days but it’s okay for a first course.
Everything is done in silence. On one side it’s a pity because you don’t get to know each other. On the other side it’s a blessing because it saves a lot of useless small talk and gives you rest to think all the thoughts you pushed away while meditating. I thought it would be hard for me being silent, but I liked it more than expected.
The food was simple but good. By the way we start eating by saying a contemplation that the food is only to nourish yourself and not to be delicious, pleasure, fun or for beauty. So the #foodporn at Instagram is not very Buddhistic 🙂
They ask 500 baht for the food and transport, 300 baht for clothes (a white trouser (one size fits all, way too big for me) and a T-shirt) and a non mandatory gift to support the center.
It was a nice experience to learn some more about Buddhism and meditation. I didn’t get a lot of extra knowledge (especially after the yoga training I did last month) but I liked the overall experience a lot. Also being silent was less hard than I thought it would be. Who knows I will do a 10 days retreat in the future…