At the top of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep mountain and park, there is a beautiful temple, full of gold Buddhas and a killer view of Chiang Mai city. It is actually one of the main attractions of tourists during your visit of Chiang Mai. What many people don’t know is that It’s also a retreat center for meditation and the opportunity to meditate and learn from monks themselves. It seemed like the perfect way to spend 4 days after the busy and lively city of Bangkok.
We flew to Chiang Mai very early on Friday morning as it was the cheapest flight from Bangkok. We enjoyed a bit of the city before heading up to the mountain. Once we got up there, we checked in at the office with a monk who I can’t remember the name. He gave us an introductory talk about Buddhism.
He went to explain how the tradition in Buddhism is in threes. As example, he explained the foundation of Buddhism are the three jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (monks and community). He taught us how to sit, respect Buddha by vowing three times and to never show your feet towards Buddha. We also must wear white during our whole stay as it signifies purity and it’ll help us purify our minds and bodies. Those were basically the simple rules during our stay. He also showed us the first steps to do for meditation that day and the schedule. It’s a silent retreat as well, so no talking during the whole time we were there.
The schedule was very simple, wake up at 5 A.M. Then Dharma (teaching about Buddhism) at 5:30. At 7 AM breakfast, 8 AM meditation, then 11 am lunch, then we met with the teacher monk to talk about our progress and the next steps for meditation. Then pretty much meditation the rest of the day until 6 when we met again for chanting. Then more meditation until 9 pm time to sleep.
By the end of the day, we had meditated about 4 to 5 hours. It was a real way to look deep within ourselves and control our mind. They also suggest not reading, or writing, or listening to music or checking emails, nothing. Unfortunately, We found it to be a great way to catch up on my readings. Reading was also a way to distract the hunger as we only ate twice a day, at 7 and last one at 11 AM. The monks only eat at these times as well and only vegetarian meals. That’s why they look so slim and healthy, believe it or not.
For those of you who will like to try it, this was a little intense and challenging but very rewarding. We did 4 kinds of meditation standing, walking, sitting and laying down meditation. We would suggest the sitting one as it’s the most common one. If you can sit in a quiet room somewhere for about 10 minutes to start, close your eyes and put your right-hand on top of your left-hand. Try to concentrate on your stomach, as you breath in, say in your head “rising”, then as you breath out, say in your head “falling”. It’s as simple as that. Well, not really as you’ll catch your mind playing tricks thinking of a million other things but that’s the idea. You need to catch and be aware of your mind and thoughts then go back to focus on your stomach and repeat “rising” for breathing in, then “falling” for breathing out. Simple, say in your head “rising,” “falling,” “rising” “falling” until the 10 minutes are up. You’ll see how challenging it is, but it’s been scientifically proven to help you reduce stress and control many other everyday stressors of our lives. It is said that our thoughts control our feelings. Have positive thoughts and you’ll see how good you feel throughout the day.
We encourage everyone to try it and we want to end the post with one quote from Buddha and two from Ghandi on meditation and the power of controlling you mind. We’ve seen these in many places but never understood them until now.
Someone once asked the Buddha skeptically, “What have you gained through meditation.”
The Buddha replied, “Nothing at all.”
“Then, Blessed One, what good is it.”
“Let me tell you what I lost through meditation: sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana.”Buddha
“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”Gandhi
If you want to try this experience, the link is here ! http://www.fivethousandyears.org/