There is so much pressure on people today to make money, maintain the right body-shape, impress peers, and act like the perfect parent. The standards we are trying to live up to are often unrealistically high, and this means that we end up generating inner-turmoil.
Instead of appreciating all the good we have in our life, we are more likely to feel guilty, ashamed, and be constantly self-critical. This is not the ideal way to be living, but a meditation retreat in Thailand can be a wonderful way to restore some inner-balance.
Thailand is most well-known abroad for its tropical beaches, fabulous culinary delights, and exotic landscape. The majority of the population are Buddhists, and meditation is embedded in the culture. Many of the most skilled meditation masters on the planet live in Thailand, so there is no better place to go learn this life-changing practice. There is also something special about the atmosphere in this country that encourages visitors to slow down their thinking. Meditation centers in Thailand are usually in Buddhist temples, and these can be incredibly spiritual places.
It is usually not necessary to be an experienced practitioner of meditation in order to join a retreat in Thailand – although there are some centers that are geared towards the more serious spiritual seeker. On most retreats, there is going to be an orientation period where you learn the basics of meditation. You can also expect daily meetings with the teacher in order to gauge your progress and deal with any questions that might have come up for you.
It’s common for these retreats to have an English interpreter to ensure clarity in communication. Each temple has its own rules and regulations, and it is recommended that you check these out before joining a retreat (e.g. some temples have rules about not eating after noon).
Here are just seven of the meditation retreats in Thailand where you can find the inner-peace that you deserve:
7 Wat Rampoeng – Chiang Mai
The retreat program at Wat Rampoeng is based on Vipasanna (insight) meditation. It involves both sitting and walking meditation. The idea is that you non-judgmentally observe thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and mental factors (such as anger and attachment) in order to gain insights that can radically transform your life.
6 Wat Kow Tahm - Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is known as one of the most laid-back and exotic of the Thai islands, and it’s also the venue for the notorious full-moon parities. Kow Tahm temple can be found to the south of the island in a secluded forest up on a hill.
5 Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep – Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep is one of the main tourist attractions in Chiang Mai, and the temple on the top of this mountain hosts meditation retreats. The foundation course lasts 21 days and there is also a 13 day course for those who have completed the foundation course.
4 Wat Umong – Chiang Mai
Wat Umong is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, and it located in a large tranquil wooded area – it’s well protected from the noise and bustle of the city. The practice here is Vipassana, and retreat participants are expected to fit in with the routine of the temple such as waking up at 4am to meditate and chant.
3 Wat Bhaddanta Asabharam – Chonburi
Ajahn Bhaddanta Asabha trained under Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma, and he now teaches at Wat Bhaddanta Asabharam. There are retreats here suitable for beginner and advanced practitioners, and all students are expected to maintain 8 precepts – participants are also asked not to leave the temple during the retreat.
2 Suan Mokh – Chaiya
Suan Mokh was founded by the revered Thai monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu back in the 1940s. This is one of the most popular meditation retreat centers in Thailand, so it is best to book well in advance - it tends to be busy here in February and March in particular.
1 Wat Pah Nanachat - Ubon Ratchathani
Wat Pah Nanachat was founded by Ajahn Chah in 1975, and the monks here are part of the Thai forest tradition. The temple is located in an area of great natural beauty, and there is a 100 acre jungle surrounding it.
The day at Wat Pah Nanachat begins at 3 am and participants are expected to help out with temple chores such as sweeping the grounds – this activity can also be a form of meditation. If you want to go here to meditate, you need to commit to at least seven days.
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