The goal with meditation is for your body and mind to come together and be as balanced as possible. I could go on and explaining a lot but it would sound so hippie-ish that I wont. I’ll just say that it is very good for your inner subconscious self. And when your inner subconscious self is in balance, it trickles down to your conscious emotional and physical parts. Your mind can easily run away from you or get filled with thoughts you can’t control which will only make you more stressed out and worry more. Meditation is a great way of keeping all that in shack.
We had one master monk, or I don’t know what to call him, but he was the one munk helping us with our meditation. So how it works is that you book your stay two weeks in advance, you decide how long you wanna stay, 3, 5, 7, 10 or 27 days, At least it is like that in Wat Doi Suthep. Other time frames may apply to other temples and meditation centers. You are not supposed to talk, you are not supposed to eat after noon, you are not supposed to wear anything but white clothes, including your underwear (although they seemed pretty relaxed about things like that at Doi Suthep, people could wear warmer sweaters in light colors). You are supposed to show your teacher and all your fellow meditators/students respect. That includes all of the above but also not having your feet towards a statue of Buddha or having electronic devices in the temple or meditation rooms (they were pretty relaxed about this as well, you could for instance use your smart phone as a alarm clock for meditation purposes even in the meditation center). The main rule being not to disturb others and using common sense.
Every day you have about 15 minutes with the monk talking to him about your progress or troubles. And every day he gives you new instructions for your different meditation techniques. He wasn’t the best English speaker but he really knew what he was doing. He gave great instructions, advice and inspiration for your practice. After every session with him I felt like going straight away to try meditating again.
Every day the bell rings for breakfast at 07 and lunch at 11. And at 05:30 you have a “Dhamma talk” which is the monk talking about concepts from Buddhism regarding meditation (not Buddhism itself, he was very clear about not teaching us anything about religion), concepts for understanding your own destiny and many different life lessons and stories.
And at 6 in the evening we did like an hour of chanting, which I at first didn’t really understand why. But now I get it, it is just as meditation. You focus on chanting instead of thoughts. It was also actually kind of fun to try to do it as good as you could. Because it wasn’t even Thai, it was an older language that Buddhist use.
The first day for example the monk told us:
“You can not train your mind. You can not touch tour mind as you can touch your physical self. But you can use meditation techniques to get deeper into yourself and close the gap between mind and body to try to get a good balance between the two and thus controlling your inner and physical self”.(Paraphrasing)
He told us techniques for not fighting and not arguing with people. Move away instead, don’t fight fire with fire, fight fire with water. Be water in a bowl of water standing on solid ground. Not water in a bowl that you are holding while you are running.
He said that there is no concept of winning or loosing. Humans can be destructive because they want to win. But winning and loosing is the same, it all shifts and the scale turns over. Instead be happy about what we can create just with our minds. Thinking. Be grateful to scientists and teachers.
And the concept of sleeping and getting up early. Stay young by going to bed between 10-24. The monk himself sleeps between 4-4.5 hours. Longer sleep means you need to recover more from much thinking and stress. If you control your day, you can sleep less. Human body is made for being awake during daytime and sleeping during night time. Logics. It is controlled by hormones. We feel good by the sun, don’t stay in all day. And turn of everything before sleep. It changes your balance and interferes with your mind.
For our first meditation technique we got instructions for sitting 10 minutes, closing our eyes and focusing on our stomach whilst using the mantra “rising” and “falling”. The important part is not to focus on your breathing, that will happen naturally.
The following is what I wrote day by day at the center. I wont really edit it that much because I want to keep it journal-like.
Day 1: introduction and 10 minute meditation sessions, 18 chanting.
And I found tea. I also took a longer walk around. It is nice but I hope I can sit in the temple/chapel next to this for more harmony. Will ask about that later.
Day 2: Walking slower 15 mins sitting and walking. The monk is so calm, it is inspiring. I also cleaned my room to get a better environment for meditation, it felt great.
Then I moved out my meditation to a small chapel with a big Buddha. Much calmer and easier to focus.
Right now my biggest problem with sitting is that it really hurts after ten minutes. So I start to wiggle and thoughts pop up. I found that if I sometimes open my eyes and look at the big Buddha everything becomes easier. I can focus and continue.
Real problems with focusing in the morning. But after new instructions from the monk it was better. New walking technique and new sitting technique.
Dhamma talk concept today was feelings compared to the ocean. We are like boats controlled by emotions. But we should be like a small island, with big mountain under. The I is not only physical it is much deeper. The unconscious. The I is the big mountain not controlled by the ocean but the mother earth.
And also to show love compassion sympathy and equality instead of hate anger jealousy and sadness. If someone is sad don’t laugh. Show compassion and happy sympathy.
Today there are many new people here. I guess it is Monday. Some even talking. Lets just try our best with our new day.
Today dhamma talk was a bit more story telling. Our master told us about our inner I, that we have a physical one and an aura or deeper one only seen by the third eye. He compared a lot with modern technology (Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Harry Potter and so on) and that there are three things to balance to be able to come together with both. Breathing, slowly and relaxing. Logical thinking and imagination. The three combined makes harmony with you. That’s how you can know yourself and be happy.
The morning meditation went like crap. I couldn’t concentrate or focus. I was annoyed by a new group of three friends, They really like to talk. And they do. Every mealtime and every time I see them. And I have never seen them meditate. They got to me.
But just before lunch I had a great session sitting meditating and that turned everything around. It took a while though because during lunch I was annoyed again but it quickly passed when I realized that I was happy. I bought a fanta and moved on. The rest of my meditation sessions have gone great. I’m smiling and when i see the new ones. I just smile to myself and don’t care. It is their loss. I thought the same about a couple that came. But today they didn’t say a word. Although I really should not care whatsoever.
I got new techniques for walking and at 14 im gonna try them 🙂
Whoah my legs are tired. The new techniques were hard! And it got harder because I was nervous and my legs were already shaking from exhaustion. I got nervous because the talking dream team came in during my walking meditation. It took some great strength not to loose focus. But my heart pumped faster because my brain thought they were going to say something and my legs shook even more because I got nervous trying my best to perform with a good face. (Yes I am no monk yet :p). I finished off with sitting meditation and it went better than ever and I got calm again. Yay for me! And they actually said nothing.
But just as I though my respect for them grew. They shattered it completely. After our daily chanting they complained about “crazy customs” because a guy was told not to point his feet towards buddha. I mean we are in a Buddhist temple. Maybe try to respect the rules. We are here for free and we are learning about how to improve our lives with meditation. So crazy because I can’t understand why they even went here. Their minds are clearly not ready for this, they must have thought this was something else.
The concept we learned after the chanting was to merge our two brain halves to do better in life and remember better. Images and chanting is why monks can remember all of Buddhism. Apparently they have 11 scriptures and they remember it by heart with chanting! The proof that both halves of the brain is needed for good memory. And today the monk was pretty funny. He usually is, joking and stuff. He joked about Einsteins hair :D. He said his brain is just as big as ours. But not his hair.
And more progress, I sat in the front ^^
I was a bit nervous at first but it went well 🙂 I like the chanting it is like our singing time ^^
I have new lying meditation to do before I sleep and my day of meditation has been great. My legs are tired! But I want to do one more session before 21.
Day 5: Breakfast was different. No noodles but instead yummy rice with vegetables. Dhamma talk was about karma. You make your own garden. Destiny changes all the time. I fell asleep during the day though. Luckily I am in a pretty chill meditation school. There are much harsher ones.
Three ways karma work. Speech, action and thought. Most important is though because it connects to all others.
Chanting was long today or the talk after. I was hungry. But we talked about the concept of universal energy. Which is love and kindness. This makes equality with anger.
Day 6: A slow day where none of my meditation has yet worked well. The talkers did stop talking during mealtime before they left though. I also saw the biggest moth ever. Seriously it was bigger than my hand. But I had no chance to get my camera before it left due someone scaring it away. I took pictures of a fly and I saw two walking sticks though.
Dhamma talk was focusing on the inner you. Your garden and that you are the gardener of your own destiny. Don’t do bad. Do good. You can be anything.
My energy level is apparent in the description of the talk :p one thing though, after lunch I tried to do sitting meditation on my special spot in the stairs.
I got some kind of small jungle birdpoop on me and a bunch of kids came so I kinda abandoned the meditation. Although I sat the whole time to at least stretch the legs.
I might be a bit down because I’m leaving tomorrow. I don’t know why but I always get weird the day before I am about to go somewhere. I shouldn’t though. Especially not after a couple days of meditation.
Later in the day though my meditation went better than ever. After new instructions from our master I took a walk. I found some puppies playing in the nearby village. Or they found me!
I wanted to spend more time with them but I was afraid that the big dogs would get protective or something. So I made sure I left before any showed up. This little walk empowered me because I went further than before and it was a side plan I had for today.
So even though I lazied about for two hours or so I managed to do good! After that I went back to the chapel I had been using some days before and tried again. Instead of 25 minutes I did 30 without flinching. And it felt really good. I could focus and I had very few thoughts 🙂
After chanting, which went great (I sat still and focused on the text and could tag along) our master told us not to be discouraged if we have many thoughts. It is normal. And the same for being sleepy. And the same for seing lights. It is all our mind and it is like that because both left and right brain are connecting. We are just not used to that mindfullness.
I’ve been trying different spots for my practice. Because I want to be able to continue this when I get home and I don’t want to get used to only one setting or location. It has been great but challenging. I like the silence as well. But sometimes you want to say something. I asked one guy how long he had been there and it was his third time doing 21 days. I had to say something because someone had accidentally taken my tshirt, so I did, it felt weird but good. I also got my tshirt back so yaay!
Today I had an Ice cream to celebrate my last day. Don’t worry it was before noon 🙂 and tonight I’ll have some fresh tea because the stock has been refilled! ^^
Tomorrow is day 7. I leave at 09 in the morning. And after that I make a quick visit to Chiang Mai and my previous hotel to pick up my bag. Then it’s of to Mae Hong Son for me! I don’t know exactly how yet. But that will surely be solved.