Thailand is known for many things: great beaches; ornate temples; tropical climate; cheap shopping; girly bars, etc. When you visit Thailand you realise that it is a mainly Buddhist country – in the far south of the country there is a big Muslim presence – and it seems to be this adherence to Buddhism, which is a very tolerant religion, that makes the Thai people so laid back and accepting.
Now, I’m not really the meditative type, but according to Joe: “Buddhist meditation to promote mindfulness can be deeply effective in relieving anxiety, boosting our mood and enhancing physical and mental health. Indeed for some, practicing meditation over an extended period is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to a traditional vacation.”
“In mindfulness meditation, practitioners focus on their breathing and their bodies, to notice, but not judge, their thoughts.”
You gradually to learn how to live in the moment. When one’s mind has a thought or emotion, one notes its arrival and passing, seeing clearly that these mental phenomena are impermanent and have no substance of their own. One’s thoughts maintain a less intense grip on the mind when one learns to observe mental processes instead of being led by them.
The techniques underlying this type of meditation are known in Pali as satipatthana (foundations of mindfulness). Pali is the language of the ancient Buddhist scriptures. These techniques come straight from the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Great Mindfulness Sutra) in the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism and are four in number: Mindfulness of the body (including breathing and body postures); mindfulness of feeling (including emotions); mindfulness of consciousness (internal states, such as aversion or attachment); and mindfulness of mental qualities (the working of the senses).
According to Joe one of the best ways to learn about and master the practice of mindfulness meditation is to participate in a multi-day Buddhist meditation retreat. Depending on the programme, such retreats may last anywhere from one to ten days for beginners, and up to three months for experienced meditators.
“Most meditation retreat venues in Thailand offer visitors instruction, food and accommodation on a voluntary donation basis.”
This is a method in which meditators contribute whatever they feel they can afford. Although a few retreat centres charge a fixed fee, the cost is usually relatively low.
Centres offering courses in Mindfulness Meditation include:
Suan Mokkh International Dhamma Hermitage (SMIDH), part of Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram in Chaiya, Surat Thani province
Web site: www.suanmokkh-idh.org
Wat Ram Poeng, Chiang Mai
Web site: www.watrampoeng.net
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Web site: www.fivethousandyears.org/center
Wat Phra That Chom Thong, Chiang Mai
Web site: www.sirimangalo.org
Wat Pa Sunan (Wat Sunandavanaram), Sai Yok District, Kanchanburi province
Web site: www.watsunan.org
House of Dhamma
Web site: www.houseofdhamma.com
Dhamma Kamala Thailand Vipassana Centre
Vipassana meditation courses in the tradition of late Burmese meditation master Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar)