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mja1906

Which Meditation Retreat In/around Chiang Mai?

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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!

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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://watsriboenruang.wordpress.com/about-3/

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

fabian.frederick.blandford

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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. jap.gif

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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.

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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.

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

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BANGKOK 25 July 2017 17:48
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