Again – the brilliance of WordPress. I am still -hopefully- locked up in a temple near Chiang Mai. I thought I might explain to you what I know of what I may go through when I am inside.
Firstly, Wat Ram Poeng is a well known temple for its meditation retreat, as you can stay from 10 days to 6 weeks. The recommeded introductory course is actually 26-days. Vipassana Kammatthana, or insight meditation is practised in this Wat. It is described as a personal experience of mental development. Whatever your faith (or lack of) you may meditate, on your path to becoming a better person. The technique taught is a way to prepare a path for a peaceful life through the clear understanding about oneself.
There are strict rules, and discipline is expected from all student. Meditators should not speak (unless to their teacher for their daily reportings), make eye contact with others, have any physical contact, read, write, listen to music, smoke, sleep during the day, use the telephone, use the internet, and chew after midday.
The days have a routine:
– 4am: wake up Gong, practise of meditation begins.
– 6am: Gong rings for breakfast. Late comers will not be served. Alms food is sacred, prayers are chanted before the meal. Take time to chew and eat. Then you may wash or bathe. Practise starts again.
– 10.30am: Gong for lunch. As for breakfast. Practise starts when food as been eaten.
– mid-afternoon: Reporting to teacher, schedule depends on teacher.
– 10pm: Sleeping may begin, while dressed in your white clothing.
The four foudations of mindfulness are the Mindfulness of body (bodily actions and sensations, including pain), Mindfulness of One’s feelings (contemplating the happiness/suffering/neutrality of now), Mindfulness of the Mind (i.e. thoughts), and Minfulness of the Objects of the Mind (mental recognition of activities: while we think, we must be mindful of thinking). The way to approach meditation is by Acknowledgement , i.e. realising what is going on, not analyzing it, not dwelling on it, simply acknowledging and letting go. To be conscious of what we are doing physically and mentally in the present moment. The 5 hindrances are desir, anger, laziness, restlessness and doubt.
The reason behing the strict routine, is that continuity is important so that the momentary concentration of meditation may occur. To be mindful from waking, through the day, until sleeping. To acknowledge our daily activities, so the mind does not wander or get disctracted.
The goals of meditation are to:
_ purify the mind,
_ to get rid of sorrows and lamentations,
_ to get rid of physical and mental sufferings,
_ to understand the truth of life,
_ to extinguish suffering and gain Nibbana.
Obviously you may obtain all these goals with regular practise of meditation, a 10-day retreat will not do it! But it is a good way to start…
That’s for the theory, now for the practical…