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Which Thai Meditation Retreats Do You Recommend And Why?


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Hi BM's.

I hope you can help me.

For some years I've been attempting to overcome negative self talk and to improve my meditative practice and regularity.

I believe there's more to life than what we see and feel that I need to discover my purpose.

I don't know why, but I also have this notion of being drawn to Thailand and feel that this place may hold a key to my lifes quest.

I'd like to explore retreats in temples under the guidance of experienced teachers.

I have distrust of western style meditation groups and gurus who appear to operate for profit above enlightenment.

I was looking at WAT UMONG in Chaing Mai as a possible retreat.

http://www.hdamm.de/buddha/mdtctr13.htm

Does anyone have experience with this centre and can you share your thoughts?

Are there other places you recommend?

I understand serious retreatants should invest atleast a month.

Being in Thailand for only a limited period on my next visit I was hoping to experience a retreat for a short time for its suitablity.

When my children are fully off my hands financially I can see myself spending much time in retreat.

with thanks.

Danny

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Dear Danny,

Like you I feel there is much more to life than what we see on the surface. Although I do not regard myself religious I do actually honestly believe in spirituality and meditate on a daily basis. This has helped me to see things more clearly, focus on what matters and above all given me an inner piece.

It all started when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she passed away last October, when I came across an American psychologist by the name Brian L. Weiss. He has written some very interesting books and also produced CDs, which helps me with deeper relaxation and meditation. They are not very expensive and you can get hold of them through Amazon.

I know this is not what you were asking about but whether or not you seek help from Thai monks or read about it and help yourself it is all the very same thing. The sole purpose is to come to an in-site of what matters the most in life and thus realise that it is only by giving love to others without expecting anything in return, in other words to be a good man. The monks will confirm that if you ask them.

The link to Brian Weiss' web site is: http://www.brianweiss.com/

Good luck and best regards,

Göran

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I would recommend the 26 day retreat at Wat Rampoeng in Chiang Mai.

http://www.palikanon.com/vipassana/tapotaram/tapotaram.htm

It's very intensive.

I second that.......Wat umong is not really set-up for western visitors...although there are sometimes western monks staying there to meditate

for foreigners at Wat Rampoeng on their first visit they have either the full 26 day course or a trial 10 days....and once you have attended the 26 day one...if you return you go on ten day retreats with more specific tasks

some foreigners come each year on their holiday

best to avoid the march april period if possible as that is the long school summer holiday and they are much busier then...also busy with the short term summer holiday ordinations

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Thank you all for taking the time to assist me.

I've added Wat Rampoeng to my short list.

I'd imagine being at a higher latitude, the humidity will be generally lower than in Bangkok making comtemplation a little more comfortable.

Is this the case?

Is anyone familiar with Dhamma Kamala Centre just out of Bangkok?

http://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schkamala.shtml

On second thoughts high latitude centres sound more appealing?!

Danny

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Best meditation retreat in thailand right now is undoubtably Wat Kow Tahm in the South of Thailand. The teachers have been teaching this retreat for some 25 years and have it down to a fine art. The place is well set up and the environment/schedule designed to be supportive of practise. It's also not far from Wat Suan Mokh if you want to visit there before or afterwards.

The retreat leaders at Wat Kow Tahm will be giving a dhamma talk in Bangkok on May 8th. I will post details on that as they are made available.

The Goenka retreat you linked to is good for meditation. They really puch you and you find you can do far more than you ever imagined. However, it is a bit cultish ... by all means do a 10 day retreat there, but I'd look around to find somewhere you like to carry on your investigations into dhamma.

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Best meditation retreat in thailand right now is undoubtably Wat Kow Tahm in the South of Thailand. The teachers have been teaching this retreat for some 25 years and have it down to a fine art. The place is well set up and the environment/schedule designed to be supportive of practise. It's also not far from Wat Suan Mokh if you want to visit there before or afterwards.

The retreat leaders at Wat Kow Tahm will be giving a dhamma talk in Bangkok on May 8th. I will post details on that as they are made available.

The Goenka retreat you linked to is good for meditation. They really puch you and you find you can do far more than you ever imagined. However, it is a bit cultish ... by all means do a 10 day retreat there, but I'd look around to find somewhere you like to carry on your investigations into dhamma.

'Wat Khao Tham' for those used to RTGS ... :o Techniques taught are similar to those taught at Wat Ram Poeng. The biggest difference is that virtually 100% of the students at Wat Khao Tham will be farangs, while at Wat Ram Poeng a substantial percentage are Thais.

I think it's a stretch to say Wat Khao Tham is 'best' if you haven't tried them all.

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...I'd like to explore retreats in temples under the guidance of experienced teachers.

I have distrust of western style meditation groups and gurus who appear to operate for profit above enlightenment.

I was looking at WAT UMONG in Chaing Mai as a possible retreat....

If you feel western style meditation groups and gurus who appear to operate for profit above enlightenment then you have obviously been in touch with the wrong groups. There are many western groups that are nothing like this, if you let us know where you live I can probably suggest something.

I wouldn't attend a retreat at a Goenka centre in Thailand as it's too easy to do them in the West. I don't really recommend at Wat Ram Poeng if this is your first time to Thailand, it might be a bit of a culture shock as it's too much a city Wat and too Thai, you want to be in the forest and breathe fresh air. I understand Wat Umong is a foest Wat in the same teaching lineage of Wat Ram Poeng.

The best Wats for beginners to Thailand I think are Wat Suanmokh and Wat Kow Tahm, both are in the south and do 10 day retreats every month.

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...I'd like to explore retreats in temples under the guidance of experienced teachers.

I have distrust of western style meditation groups and gurus who appear to operate for profit above enlightenment.

I was looking at WAT UMONG in Chaing Mai as a possible retreat....

If you feel western style meditation groups and gurus who appear to operate for profit above enlightenment then you have obviously been in touch with the wrong groups. There are many western groups that are nothing like this, if you let us know where you live I can probably suggest something.

I wouldn't attend a retreat at a Goenka centre in Thailand as it's too easy to do them in the West. I don't really recommend at Wat Ram Poeng if this is your first time to Thailand, it might be a bit of a culture shock as it's too much a city Wat and too Thai, you want to be in the forest and breathe fresh air. I understand Wat Umong is a foest Wat in the same teaching lineage of Wat Ram Poeng.

The best Wats for beginners to Thailand I think are Wat Suanmokh and Wat Kow Tahm, both are in the south and do 10 day retreats every month.

Wat Rampoeng and Wat Umong are next to each other, therefore you get to breathe in the same fresh air and surround yourself with the same natural settings at both Wats.

Wat Umong does not have the organized retreats that Wat Rampoeng has , therefore is much better suited to westerners due to the program itself and the translators available.

The plus side of Wat Rampoeng would be almost zero tourist traffic , whereas Umong gets more than it's fair share.

Just my 2 satangs.. :o

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I completed the 26 day retreat at Wat Rampoeng a few years ago and had a great experience there. I found that it catered well for the western meditator. There were a large number of first-time western attendees and they seemed to benefit from the program.

The temple is near Chiang Mai and it can get busy as it is such a popular place. It can also be very peaceful at times. I found that both conditions benefited my meditation. After all, if I left the temple only able to meditate in tranquil places then it wouldn't be much benefit for me.

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I have been to Wat rampoeng about eight times now....and the only thing which I have heard western students complain about (just privately to me) was that they were slightly disappointed that there was no instruction about buddhism.....

Naturally most of them not being buddhists and wanting to try buddhist meditation while they are here, they'd like to know a bit more of the background..

But it IS a meditation centre.... and they don't really have the time for courses on Dhamma....and it is really for thais..... but even without the dhamma talks everyone is pleased with the friendly atmosphere and feeling that you are doing the real thing in a real temple....not like a seminar in a college or something

Of course the Thais do get dhamma talks each day....but that is in Thai so I have never seen any foreigner apart from myself attending them...

so if you have time do some background reading about buddhism and vipassana meditation before you go

the average percentage is 80% female to male.... and 80% Thai to farang

Edited by fabianfred
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The best Wats for beginners to Thailand I think are Wat Suanmokh and Wat Kow Tahm, both are in the south and do 10 day retreats every month.

I've been to Suan Mokkh a few times, as a first-timer and with a little more experience. I still find the dhamma talks enjoyable even after hearing them more than once, and have appreciated the balance between meditation and information, as opposed to 'sit all day' retreats. The only drawback I've found is whenever I've been, there are always some people who don't appreciate how important the retreat time can be for others and, frankly, muck about a bit. On later retreats I've found this gives ample opportunity to develop mindfulness, but at first I was distracted by it. Completion rate has been about 70% when I've been there, as far as I can tell so some people find it hard. The only feedback I've had is from two people who both left because they couldn't deal with the concrete bed with straw mat.

I've looked at Wat Kao Tham and been put-off by the lack of availability of retreats when I've wanted to go on one, and the price. Although the money does not matter, I feel more comfortable at places who ask for nothing or a small donation irrespective of how much I actually pay. But that's just my choice.

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You may want to consider starting out small, rather than to go the whole hog with 26 days. Even a 10-day retreat could be a lot if you have never done any meditation at all.

I've just started to explore meditation myself, and tried to focus my research (just last month) on places that have shorter programs. I found Wat Umong in CM only takes women (called twice and talked with different people to verify). At Wat Sri Chomthong in CM, you can stay anywhere from 3 to 30 days.

I ended up at Section 5 of Wat Mahataad next to Silpakorn University. They run a day program here, 7 days a week. Each day has 3 similar sessions: from 7AM to 10AM, 1PM to 4PM, and 6PM to 9PM. You can stay as much or as little as you want each day. You can also opt to spend the night(s) at the wat. No matter what you choose, these sessions are free of charge. I donated, but they were really low key about it as they didn't even solicit me anything.

There is a meditation room set up especially for foreigners. My guess is the instructions are in English (I'm Thai, so I sat in the Thai section). I saw many farungs there, most of them day trippers. The older monk in the front desk speaks good enough English. He would be your first point of contact as you walk in. Bring a "puang malai" on your first day for your teacher.

I attended at least one session almost everyday for 2 weeks, and it's the best thing that happened to me in a long time. I'm now looking forward to a 10-day retreat, hopefully in the near future.

Good luck to you.

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You may want to consider starting out small, rather than to go the whole hog with 26 days. Even a 10-day retreat could be a lot if you have never done any meditation at all.

I've just started to explore meditation myself, and tried to focus my research (just last month) on places that have shorter programs. I found Wat Umong in CM only takes women (called twice and talked with different people to verify). At Wat Sri Chomthong in CM, you can stay anywhere from 3 to 30 days.

I ended up at Section 5 of Wat Mahataad next to Silpakorn University. They run a day program here, 7 days a week. Each day has 3 similar sessions: from 7AM to 10AM, 1PM to 4PM, and 6PM to 9PM. You can stay as much or as little as you want each day. You can also opt to spend the night(s) at the wat. No matter what you choose, these sessions are free of charge. I donated, but they were really low key about it as they didn't even solicit me anything.

There is a meditation room set up especially for foreigners. My guess is the instructions are in English (I'm Thai, so I sat in the Thai section). I saw many farungs there, most of them day trippers. The older monk in the front desk speaks good enough English. He would be your first point of contact as you walk in. Bring a "puang malai" on your first day for your teacher.

I attended at least one session almost everyday for 2 weeks, and it's the best thing that happened to me in a long time. I'm now looking forward to a 10-day retreat, hopefully in the near future.

Good luck to you.

Thank you Khnom

I'm glad your practice has developed since your visit.

I will defitely keep Wat Mahataad as a reference.

Do they have a website and or what is their address?

thanks

Danny

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wat luang phor sodh at rajburi province is holding damakhaya meditaion workshops conducted by phra bart , an inspiring (and very funny ) american monk. thay have courses starting at the start and middle of the month but you can contact them and arrange a stay for a few days.

http://en.dhammakaya.org/index.php

good luck!

I've always been a bit confused about Luang Por Sodh. Is he part of the big Dhammakaya movement that has the huge Chedi north of Bangkok, and should probably be considered a cult, or is he quite seperate?

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wat luang phor sodh at rajburi province is holding damakhaya meditaion workshops conducted by phra bart , an inspiring (and very funny ) american monk. thay have courses starting at the start and middle of the month but you can contact them and arrange a stay for a few days.

http://en.dhammakaya.org/index.php

good luck!

I've always been a bit confused about Luang Por Sodh. Is he part of the big Dhammakaya movement that has the huge Chedi north of Bangkok, and should probably be considered a cult, or is he quite seperate?

The website suggests they're one and the same.

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[quote name='ani'

I've always been a bit confused about Luang Por Sodh. Is he part of the big Dhammakaya movement that has the huge Chedi north of Bangkok, and should probably be considered a cult, or is he quite seperate?

The website suggests they're one and the same.

If that's the case I'd steer well clear.

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I miss the meditation center in Chom Thong (nearby Chiang Mai) in the above mails. Basic course takes 3 weeks approx. Follow up courses 12 days. Mostly Thai people, but for the Westerners there is seperate instruction and interviews. Unfortunately no Dhamma talks.

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Last month I went to the one at Wat Suan Mokkh

I liked it. As previous poster said about 70% complete it.

There were more than 100 persons but as you don't talk

it's really not a hassle.

The first night was more difficult, but the rythm of the days

the alternation of walking and sitting meditation, the yoga, the chores

the surrounding nature (birds)

make it all more pleasant. I liked the food a lot.

The damma talks vary, the english monk and Ajan Po great,

the laywomen about loving kindness cdnt really impress what 'loving kindness meditation' was,

the chanting depends a lot on the person presiding, the last monk was a bit 'preachy/pushy' for me;

They have 8 precepts but after 5 days they still made announcements

for some people to comply (clinging and revealing clothes). A few "yoga-illuminated-show off-prima donna's".

At first it upset me too, but then as meditation is so inwards, this feeling tapered off.

Ajan Po has a 5 day now on Koh Samui (samui-light.com)

I would go for a next retreat somewhere more secluded from backpackers, beachcombers but for a

first retreat the meditation experience was splendid.

Wat Mahathat was also good, I once went 12 yrs ago and then again for a refresher a few months ago,

that's when I decided it was a little too "instructional' at this point for me and went to do 10 days.

[Actually my first instructor/teacher was the aging Roger Welty,

a most precious man , there is a book about his younger days 40 years ago

when he was a monk:

Bhikku, Disciple of the Buddha, Orchid Press which is still in print. ] Metta

Edited by orchis
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Steve and Rosemary Weissman will give a talk in Bangkok on May 8th. A chance to hear them if you are considering a retreat at Wat Kow Tahm.

Details are at littlebang (Little Bangkok Sangha)

Might also mention that the Dhammodaya centre is good, in Nakhon Pathom. U Janaka lineage (Mahasi)

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Steve and Rosemary Weissman will give a talk in Bangkok on May 8th. A chance to hear them if you are considering a retreat at Wat Kow Tahm.

Details are at littlebang (Little Bangkok Sangha)

Might also mention that the Dhammodaya centre is good, in Nakhon Pathom. U Janaka lineage (Mahasi)

The address for those interested:

Dhammodaya Chanmyay Yeiktha

Abbot: U Sujata

45/1 Mu 4 Tambon Thanon Khat

Nakhon-Pathom, 73000 Thailand

email: [email protected]

More info:

Jeff Oliver - mobile: 08 1777 9346

Khun Nay - mobile: 08 1810 9632

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You might try:

Wat Pah Ban Kor

Kuea Nam, Ban Phu, Udon Thani, 41160

tel: 042-250730

Also:

Wat Paa Baan Taat Forest Monastery

Location: Tambon Baan Taat, approximately 16 km from Udon Thani city centre

Wat Paa Baan Taat Forest Monastery is set in tranquil natural surroundings. Phra Acharn Maha Bua Kansampanno, a renowned teacher of Vipassana Buddhist insight meditation and highly revered by Buddhist followers.

http://www.tatnews.org/emagazine/2970.asp

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Wat Paa Baan Thaat isn't accepting foreign monks or lay residents these days, nor do they teach meditation to foreigners.

Before I replied to your post, I wanted to be sure. The following is a partial reply from an e-mail I recieved from a friend who lives in the area and has gone on numerous retreats to Wat Paa Baan That:

I just got a message from my German monk friend at Wat Pa Ban Tad .

They still do ,as in the past welcome serious practitioners for meditation retreats .

Perhaps the key word here is: serious?

Edited by maxjay
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