I will be traveling into Thailand at the end of April, early may and I'm looking for a Wat to practice meditation. Either Chiang Mai or any of the beach areas is what I would prefer. I don't know much about the process. I believe that I would like to stay between a week and a month depending on the situation. This is my first post on the topic so I really don't know what questions to ask so any answers or directions would be greatly appreciated.
#1 theburningheart has been a member since 18/12/2016. Posts: 3
I think Travelfish writer David is the real expert on this topic, so hopefully he with chime in with his usual excellent advice.
In the mean time, to get started you can have a look at the website for Wat Suan Mokkh in Surat Thani Province. They have 10-day meditation retreats starting the first day of each month. The web site is at: http://www.suanmokkh-idh.org/
I hope that helps. Good luck with your trip.
You have some excellent options in both the north and south of Thailand.
In Chiang Mai, the meditation center connected to Wat Doi Suthep is a popular choice. Doi Suthep is a major tourist attraction but the meditation section is removed from it and the air is usually nice and cool up there: http://www.fivethousandyears.org/ . The Green Papaya Sangha, a local English-speaking Buddhist community in Chiang Mai, has some other options posted on their site: https://greenpapayasangha.org/upcoming-retreats/
Further north, Wat Pa Tam Wua is another popular option for foreigners in Mae Hong Son province. I haven't been up there but the area sure looks beautiful: http://watpatamwua.com/
In the south there are two monasteries that have both been running retreats in English for decades and both have excellent reputations. Exacto pointed out the first, Wat Suan Mokkh, in the Chaiya district of Surat Thani province (here's my writeup on it). The second is Wat Kow Tahm on Ko Pha Ngan (here's my writeup). I've visited both but have not stayed for retreats at either. Based on the venues, I liked Wat Kow Tahm better, as it's set on a very peaceful hilltop with some great sea views and a breeze. Wat Suan Mokkh is located off a major highway on flat terrain and is somewhat difficult to reach. I also liked the "vibe" better at Wat Kow Tahm... Meditators stay at the main monastery and it seemed like there was less of a feeling of being "pushed through the meditation system" that I sensed at Suan Mokkh. At Suan Mokkh the foreign retreat center is completely separate from the main monastery.
But my opinion is that you could have a worthwhile experience at any one of these places. They're all in the Theravada Buddhist tradition -- meditation subjects and techniques will vary but they're all rooted in the same field. The Northern options will likely have more Burmese meditation influence, so more of an emphasis Vipassana (Insight meditation), although you'll likely get some Vipassana at Wat Kow Tahm as well. Wat Suan Mokkh is in the tradition of Bhudadasa Bhikkhu, a revolutionary scholar-monk who emphasized Anapansati (Minfulness of Breathing). But most of these courses are designed for beginners so, if you're a beginner, you'll probably start with Anapanasati and/or some form of Samatha (Concentration meditation) at any of them.
Generally you'll meet with an instructor at the beginning and they'll assess where you're at in your practice, and suggest ways that they think are best for you to move forward. I understand that the Wat Suan Mokkh retreat is particularly conducive to beginners.
If you're more experienced, you may want to check out Wat Pah Nanachat out in Ubon Ratchathani in the northeast of Thailand. If passing through Bangkok, you might want to stop by for a meditation session with the Little Bang Sangha and/or check out Wat Mahathat or Wat Sanghathan.
Thank you both for the responses. I'll take a look at the links and see what I think.
#4 theburningheart has been a member since 18/12/2016. Posts: 3