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The Gap Year Blog

Buddhist Retreat - Mae Hong Son Province

29 Aug 2018 10:40 AM

Three weeks into our trip we arrived in Pai. During our stay there I was able to (for three nights and four days) live in a Buddhist monastery where we would meditate, chant and live with a few Buddhist monks. 

The Buddhist culture in Thailand greatly interested me: I enjoyed the temples, I loved seeing the monks walk about the street, and I liked looking at all the other bits and bobs related to the religion.

I found my experience at the monastery though to be the most insightful one into Buddhism. 

We had three one hour blocks of meditation (which was consisted of walking, sitting and lying down meditation), after which we would do some chanting (in Thai) which would roughly amount to 1 hour all together. Our day would start at 6am and finish at 8:30pm. 

The day also consisted of a small lecture from one of the monks, as well as a little ritual we would do before eating when we would serve the monks food.

One of the things that made the retreat so memorable was how frustrating it was. By the third day I had no mental concentration or focus left, and to my surprise I was physically struggling as well. The sitting meditation stopped the circulation in my legs and strained my back, and I slept on a tiled floor, which only exacerbated the pain. 

Everyone I met ended up leaving earlier than they intended due to the struggle. Yet I would still whole heartly recommend it.

The atmosphere was relaxing, the monks were lovely, there were some really interesting people with equally interesting stories, and most importantly it was unlike anything I'd ever done before.

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