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Which Meditation Retreat In/around Chiang Mai?


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#1 mja1906

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Posted 2009-02-27 11:59:26

I am planning on taking my first mediation retreat, I want to do one at a temple in or around Chiang Mai. I can't decide where to go, I have read a few reviews about wat ram poeng, wat umong, and wat chom thong. Think I am leaning towards Wat Chom Tong although have heard it is extremely intensive, which scares me off a bit.

I guess important factors are
- instruction of vipassana meditation techniques in English
- teaching of buddhism in general

Any reviews/advices would be much appreciated!

#2 fabianfred

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Posted 2009-02-28 07:21:14

I recommend Wat Rampoeng ....I've done many retreats there...
there is no dhamma instruction for foreigners though...
or this could be of use...
http://www.monkforamonth.com
http://www.facebook....nth/35067157310

Edited by fabianfred, 2009-02-28 07:23:55.


#3 Brucenkhamen

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Posted 2009-03-01 02:16:46

I guess important factors are
- instruction of vipassana meditation techniques in English
- teaching of buddhism in general


Usually at meditation retreats teaching about Buddhism in general is not really part of programme, you are probably better to get this from reading books.

Instruction of vipassana meditation techniques in English can be quite variable depending on the english skills of the teacher, I'd recommend going somewhere where the teacher is a westerner if it's your first time.

From you're list I've only been to Wat Ram Poeng, I think it's fine for an experienced mediator but not really the best if it's your first time.

#4 mja1906

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Posted 2009-03-01 21:54:02

Thanks. There's a temple in Lampang (nearby Chiang Mai) that also does meditation, does anyone know how that is?

#5 NotYetArahan

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Posted 2009-03-03 15:45:55

I am afraid I have only meditatated at Chom Tong from the placed on your list.

I find the practise and attitude there quite relaxed compared with some other places I have been.

For a first time they like you to do a "basic course" which takes 21 days. If you have less time that should be fine, but they will try to push you to do 21 days.

There is no Buddhist training. They train you how to do the vipassana meditation. Daily interview with English meditation teacher. Meditation teacher can be reached throughout the day if you have a problem.

This season plenty of space. But polite to call a day before arrival or earlier.

In case of any more questions please feel free to ask them.

Take care

#6 sabaijai

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Posted 2009-03-04 15:10:26

Thanks. There's a temple in Lampang (nearby Chiang Mai) that also does meditation, does anyone know how that is?


If you're referring to Wat Thamma-O, it's supposed to be very good. A Burmese monk offers instruction in English, or so I've heard.

#7 ddoff

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Posted 2009-03-15 12:38:33

In my opinion, Wat Doi Suthep is the best option for a beginner. Ajahn speaks pretty good English and can answer all your questions in length.
Wat Ram Poeng is somehow overcrowded, too many people, socializing is distracting, though the training is also good.
Wat Chom Phong doesn't offer a lot of instructions.
What is also good about Wat Doi Suthep -- it is not so hot there during the hot season.

#8 Yelly

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Posted 2011-08-14 18:08:41

In my opinion, Wat Doi Suthep is the best option for a beginner. Ajahn speaks pretty good English and can answer all your questions in length.
Wat Ram Poeng is somehow overcrowded, too many people, socializing is distracting, though the training is also good.
Wat Chom Phong doesn't offer a lot of instructions.
What is also good about Wat Doi Suthep -- it is not so hot there during the hot season.


Sadly, things must have changed in the past few years as I will absolutely NOT recommend Doi Suthep for a beginner.

I was set to begin my course here this weekend and spent 24 hours there.

I left because:

I am a beginner and there was NO guidance past my short talk after the "opening ceremony." There was a lot of chanting and none of it was translated. Also, the monk that was "working with me" spoke awful English (I live in Chiang Mai and work in an office with natives, and have also taught, so I think I have a grasp on Thai "English") and I could understand very little of what he was trying to convey. He never stopped talking or asked for me to speak, so all of the questions I had went unanswered. I felt they were hurrying me through the introduction process because they had other places to be. Also, after that initial introduction, I could never find a soul to talk to to understand what was happening. This is not for a beginner - this is for someone who knows "how" to meditate and is comfortable working alone.

Also: I was stuck in a block two buildings from anyone with bathroom facilities that were hardly clean. Black mold was growing on the sinks and my room was covered in the stuff. The bedding was moist enough to be practically fresh out of the water (as are the mediation mats all over the grounds) and the one night I slept there, I was attacked in my sleep by an insect or spider, apparently, as there are bite marks and bruises that are numb all over my right leg.

The meditation hall is just as clean and I had a beetle climb over my leg during my attempted practice.

My last straw was when I felt I absolutely needed questions answered after 24 hours and there was not a soul around. The office was locked. The other retreat participants were completely MIA.

I have to add that they teach strictly Thai Buddhism here, which should be obvious: but that includes some weird "5 commandments" of Buddhism that I had never heard before...much like Western Religion, actually. These commandments said that if you are to break one, your soul will never reach enlightenment. Very odd.

Upon deciding to leave, I had to just pack up alone and return to the Wat Doi Suthep office, where I told them I needed to go home. The monk did not care, did not ask questions, and merely took the key from me. Is this normal!?

I am from California and my husband has been studying Buddhism for years. He has participated in similar retreats at monasteries in the USA, and once I told him about everything, he said he couldn't blame me for leaving.

Wat Doi Suthep hardly offers guidance OR a comfortable place to learn to meditate.

#9 fabianfred

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Posted 2011-08-15 16:58:26

Sorry you had that experience Yelly....I would recommend Wat Rampoeng as I have been there many times. The Abbot speaks average English and usually has a translator handy. At the three temples teaching the Ajarn Thong technique, Doi Suthep, Rampoeng and Chom Thong, they are all intensive courses with no real Dhamma teaching for basic beginners who want to know something about the reasons for meditation and why Vipassana is so important.
Welcome here...just up the road in Fang....I do the dhamma teaching and Phra Greg the meditation instruction.

http://watsriboenrua...ss.com/about-3/

you can even Skype me if you want to chat about it...
fabian.frederick.blandford

Edited by fabianfred, 2011-08-15 17:00:57.


#10 Yelly

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Posted 2011-08-15 19:46:38

Sorry you had that experience Yelly....I would recommend Wat Rampoeng as I have been there many times. The Abbot speaks average English and usually has a translator handy. At the three temples teaching the Ajarn Thong technique, Doi Suthep, Rampoeng and Chom Thong, they are all intensive courses with no real Dhamma teaching for basic beginners who want to know something about the reasons for meditation and why Vipassana is so important.
Welcome here...just up the road in Fang....I do the dhamma teaching and Phra Greg the meditation instruction.

http://watsriboenrua...ss.com/about-3/

you can even Skype me if you want to chat about it...
fabian.frederick.blandford


Wow, thank you for the information :) I appreciate it.

I work full time now until the end of October, but perhaps I will give it another try somewhere else. Posted Image

#11 cm das

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Posted 2011-08-18 18:02:35

I just came back from a 3 day mini-retreat at Wat Tam Wua in Mae Hong Son. (It was a 4.5 hour motorbike ride from Chiang Mai which I guess stretches the definition of "around Chiang Mai".) The Wat itself I give an A+: The setting amdist forested cliffs is fantastically beautiful, the grounds & kutis are as clean as you could hope for, the sound of running water fills the air & the food is all vegetarian & delicious. The meditation & dhamma instruction were of the most basic kind. For me this wasn't an issue, some others there who were newcomers to Buddhism & vipassana felt the teaching was a bit lacking. I'm sure if you asked you could get soemthing deeper. The abbot, Luang Ta, speaks decent English & is super friendly. They have a good library of English language resources covering many strains of Buddhism, not just Theravada. I should also say that the schedule is pretty undemanding compared to other retreats I've been on - organized group practice accounted for 5-6 hours per day including chanting, walking & sitting meditation. At other times you're free to practice on your own... or check facebook! Never did anyone check with me about how my practice was going or ask if I had any questions. Again, I didn't mind but I felt that the abbot & a few other monks were more than willing to discuss with me if I wanted/needed. I should also mention that you can stay for as long or short a time as you like, and there's no need to contact them in advance.

So, Wat Tam Wua is a place I'd highly recommend either for people who are looking for a great place to practice (as opposed to learn) meditation, or for those who want a relatively simple & comfortable introduction to staying at a temple. If you want a directed, highly structured, intensive retreat then it's probably not the best choice.

#12 moe666

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Posted 2011-08-19 11:19:55

Yes Wat tam Wua is a great place for a beginner. I have stayed there twice for a month each time. The abbot is not pushy but if you need help he is more than helpful. cm das what got you over that way as I was going to recommend for the OP

The abbot has a great story to tell, he walked from Chiang Mai to that locatio 20 years ago and meditated in the caves there and has been building the wat. He has some great stories to tell if there is a Thai who can translate. His english is ok for basic conversation but for longer conversations feels more comfortable with a translator.


Edited by moe666, 2011-08-19 11:24:46.


#13 fabianfred

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Posted 2011-08-20 08:52:27

We are here.... you help put Wat Tham Wua on the map please...

http://wikimapia.org...45&z=17&l=0&m=b

#14 cm das

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Posted 2011-08-29 16:33:21

I finally got around to looking for Wat Tam Wua on wikimapia & found that someone else had marked it already.

http://wikimapia.org...31&z=15&l=0&m=b

Edited by cm das, 2011-08-29 16:34:42.


#15 cm das

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Posted 2011-09-07 06:23:36

And here's a brief slideshow I just put together of scenes from Wat Tam Wua.



#16 changraider

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Posted 2011-10-06 15:19:49

[quote name='fabianfred' timestamp='1313402306' post='4626142']
Sorry you had that experience Yelly....I would recommend Wat Rampoeng as I have been there many times. The Abbot speaks average English and usually has a translator handy. At the three temples teaching the Ajarn Thong technique, Doi Suthep, Rampoeng and Chom Thong, they are all intensive courses with no real Dhamma teaching for basic beginners who want to know something about the reasons for meditation and why Vipassana is so important.
Welcome here...just up the road in Fang....I do the dhamma teaching and Phra Greg the meditation instruction.

http://watsriboenrua...ss.com/about-3/

you can even Skype me if you want to chat about it...
fabian.frederick.blandford

Hi Fred, is it possible to stay at your wat for a short vipassana retreat (maybe 2 nights / 3 days) ? Is there a booking process or do I just turn up? I have previously spent a few days at Doi Suthep, thanks.

#17 fabianfred

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Posted 2011-10-06 20:00:36

Hi Changraider....
Can contact Phra Chutawongso phrachuntawongso@gmail.com or just turn up if you like....we can probably squeeze you in. We have an Austrian girl and guy from Singapore here right now. He hopes to ordain as novice for a week.
If coming from bangkok get the overnight bus from Morchit to Fang... or buses from CM every half-hour from Changpuak.

#18 tjansen

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Posted 2012-04-05 08:44:52

I don't know if this thread is still active. I have done one ten day course at Suan Mokh and three ten day courses at Goenka centers in Thailand. I would like to know if anyone has done the Goenka course as well as some of the other ones mentioned. Right now, I really like Goenka. It is the one that inspired me to start a daily practice a couple of years ago. Having only experienced two different approaches, I am curious how other courses would compare.

If anyone is interested I can share my experience and thoughts about the Goenka course. I am still meditating after two or three years, by the way, after having failed for thirty years to get myself on the cushion while living in the US.

Tom

#19 rockyysdt

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Posted 2012-04-06 17:07:14

I don't know if this thread is still active. I have done one ten day course at Suan Mokh and three ten day courses at Goenka centers in Thailand. I would like to know if anyone has done the Goenka course as well as some of the other ones mentioned. Right now, I really like Goenka. It is the one that inspired me to start a daily practice a couple of years ago. Having only experienced two different approaches, I am curious how other courses would compare.

If anyone is interested I can share my experience and thoughts about the Goenka course. I am still meditating after two or three years, by the way, after having failed for thirty years to get myself on the cushion while living in the US.

Tom


I'm curious regarding your leaning towards the Goenka retreat.

How would you compare it to Suan Mokkh?

What is it about Goenka that draws you to it?

#20 tjansen

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Posted 2012-04-06 20:54:19


I don't know if this thread is still active. I have done one ten day course at Suan Mokh and three ten day courses at Goenka centers in Thailand. I would like to know if anyone has done the Goenka course as well as some of the other ones mentioned. Right now, I really like Goenka. It is the one that inspired me to start a daily practice a couple of years ago. Having only experienced two different approaches, I am curious how other courses would compare.

If anyone is interested I can share my experience and thoughts about the Goenka course. I am still meditating after two or three years, by the way, after having failed for thirty years to get myself on the cushion while living in the US.

Tom


I'm curious regarding your leaning towards the Goenka retreat.

How would you compare it to Suan Mokkh?

What is it about Goenka that draws you to it?


Hello and thanks for the question.

After the retreat at Suan Mokh I came home with kind of an idea I would like to meditate, and I did do some meditation For me, the retreat, although demanding from a schedule and physical comfort point of view, was fairly relaxed in procedures for meditating and in the daily Dhamma talks, which were done live with an English monk who, while entertaining, was not 'hard-core' enough with facts and techniques for my liking.
On the train home, I met a guy who had been to the same retreat as I, who told me about Goenka--that he had heard a lot of controversial comments about the strictness, the cult flavor of it, etc. I decided I had to check into this. So about six months later I attended the first of three ten-day Goenka courses.

One major plus to Goenka, again, for me, is that everything except answering quesions that arise, is presented by Goenka himself, via DVD and Audio CDs, in English. Some people complained of the lack of the personal touch. I enjoyed it knowing I was getting the straight scoop from the original source (of this particular method).

The next thing that happened to get me on the cushion was Goenka's exhortation, at the end of the course, to meditate two hours per day for one year to give this method a fair trial. I did so (having spent almost 30 years in AA knowing I wanted to meditate and knowing that meditation contained the only lasting answers for me, yet being unable to get myself to do it), and I am still meditating 4-5 hours per week, and missing it when I don't do it. I readily notice the absence of peace of mind during the day when I skp a day or two, even with wonderful reasons. Originally I had thoughts about going for enlightenment, but I have abandoned that notion for now, lacking the motivation to devote my major energy to meditation.

After posting this, I just remembered the comment of a middle-aged Thai man at one of my Goenka retreats, who said he had tried various courses, including Suan Mokh and Goenka. He said he settled on Goenka because Suan Mokh meandered toward the goal, while Goenka was a rifle shot (demonstrated in a languageless pencil and paper sketch).

That is about it. Let me know if there are other questions. I will be glad to answer them as best I can.

Goenka's web site is www.dhamma.org. They have centers in several countries, and all courses are financed only by voluntary contributions from students who have already attended a course.

Tom

Edited by tjansen, 2012-04-06 21:24:01.


#21 lungmi

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Posted 2012-04-25 21:46:36

I recommend Wat Rampoeng ....I've done many retreats there...
there is no dhamma instruction for foreigners though...
or this could be of use...
http://www.monkforamonth.com
http://www.facebook....nth/35067157310

Wat Rampoeng is ok. Wat Umong is incertain although my "homewat" before.

#22 bac330

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Posted 2012-11-11 15:25:17

Also unsure if this thread is active but I'm looking for some help. I am in Thailand for an indefinite period of time. Originally came to teach but I have been troubled inside for quite some time. I want to find some sort of retreat I can attend that will actually teach me how to meditate. I have never been able to quiet my mind enough to do so. But I have a lot of emotional problems that I need to deal with and I think that finding a way to center myself would be helpful. My aunt has always told me that when I quiet my mind I'd be able to hear my truth. I need help and guidance if anyone can provide any. I am an extreme beginner. Never meditated before. I need somewhere to start. I am currently down south but will be traveling north and hoping to settle near Chang Mai.

#23 fabianfred

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Posted 2012-11-16 04:45:02

Although I disrobed 6 months ago and the other Farang monk teacher at our temple has gone back to his New Zealand, I still live at my home in Fang. Beginning in the new year they are hoping to restart the program at our temple, Wat SriBoonRuang in Fang. It started with MonkforaMonth run by Blood Foundation, and when they pulled out myself and Phra Greg continued it. Since we both left the temple the program has fallen apart. There is a nice old Amewrican guy called Clyde who is a novice there... https://www.facebook...7215449?fref=ts is his page for the temple on Facebook.
Mine is https://www.facebook...abian.blandford and since I live only ten kilometres away from the temple I shall probably start doing the Dhamma and meditation teaching again once the program gets restarted.
People can still come and stay at the temple even thought the program isn't up and running right now, and I can still come and teach if requested.
http://wikimapia.org...14&z=18&l=0&m=b





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