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Our temple is part of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives and follows in the Zen Buddhist tradition of Serene Reflection Meditation. In the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition, one can follow the Way as a lay person or as a monk.
We can all learn to meditate because we all have the Buddha Nature, even though it may be, as yet, unseen. The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives is committed to providing a safe and ethical environment in which all may practice. Contents by Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple available under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License.
When Max and I began our backpacking adventure in September, we discussed a few goals that we wanted to achieve while during our travels. We started our journey determined to become creative geniuses through the art of meditation. During one of our diligent meditative periods, Max suggested we do a 24-hour Buddhist meditation retreat in Chiang Mai. I didn't know too much about Buddhism when I signed up for the retreat, but after 24 hours, I am an expert, so here is Nisha's Buddhism 101. The two monks who guided us through meditation were the happiest little bunnies I've ever met (aside from the elephants I just posted about here). Upon arriving at the meeting point for the retreat, we were given our clothes for the next 24 hours: a white t-shirt that said "mindfulness" in case we forgot the goal of the retreat and a pair of XXXXL linen white pants that the monks marketed as "one size fits all." All ready to attend Diddy's White Party! After receiving my form-fitting outfit, I walked into a room full of 35 white people intently watching a documentary series featuring an American female monk rambling about the death penalty and the American justice system (mindfulness is the new yoga for white people).
After being forced to listen to this nonsense, we had a lovely and friendly young monk give us a two-hour introductory lecture to Buddhism and meditation. After learning some of the core principles and teachings of Buddhism and chanting in the Pali language (a dead language that is the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism), we began our guided meditation.
For sitting, the classic pose is crossed-legged sitting Indian style, though many of the monks prefer lotus position or even full lotus position. I obviously did not take these photos because I'm one of the poor fools sitting in this photo, silently suffering.
Walking mediation involves walking extremely slowly, one foot at a time, while verbalizing the steps you take. Finally, lying down was my favorite form of meditating because it is equivalent to sleeping.
In addition to the pain of sitting, one of the difficult aspects of the retreat, at least for me, was not being able to wear shoes indoors. I certainly wasn't the best meditator at the retreat or the practitioner who got the most out of the experience, but I most definitely had the cleanest feet of anyone there.
I'm the one brown person in this photo and the person with the cleanest feet (not pictured). Frenchie clearly did not speak English because he proceeded to lead us in the exact same meditative exercises we had just learned.
In all seriousness, if you're someone who holds a lot of stress, you should really consider taking up meditation. For Kopan's meditation retreats, course information and schedule, please see the Kopan Monastery Meditation Retreat page. Of course, many of the same questions can be asked every day no matter where we are going or what we are doing.
With the seed planted in my head so many moons ago, I was excited when the Imax film "Everest" came out in 1998.
A documentary of the annual Kopan monastery 30 day Buddhist meditation retreat is now available. Buddhist meditation retreat: Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Two Buddhist monks are in residence at the temple and welcome visiting monastics and lay sangha to come and join in opportunities for training through day visits, participation in meditation and ceremonial and for retreats.
The aim of each has been to express the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in a manner appropriate to the time and culture. All beings are Buddhas and should be respected as such, whatever manner of life they may be in.
Our hope is to make the Buddha’s teaching available to all, but never to try and impose it upon others. We expect that we, and those who come through our doors, will treat others preceptually and with respect. It's been shown to lower stress levels, decrease high blood pressure, reduce joint and tension-related pain, boost serotonin production, and improve creativity and happiness, among many other things. Buddhists do not worship the Buddha ("the awakened one") but rather pay respect to Buddha, as well as the Dharma (the path of practice the Buddha taught his followers) and Sangha (the spiritual community). I assumed she was against it because Buddhism preaches peace, but she kept talking about karma and how small bad actions can create bad karma for you in the long run, so like if you steal a slice of pizza, you may get executed later because of karma. As much as I used to sit at my previous job, it did nothing to prepare me for sitting cross-legged with an upright back. Essentially, you spend ten minutes walking 100 feet, sing-songing "right goes thus" as you move your right foot and "left goes thus" as you move your left foot. I admire it, I appreciate it, I cook it, I learn about it, I teach about it, I share it, I obsess about it, I feel it. Before each meal, we would chant as a group a meditative blessing that went something like this: Food is not to be eaten for pleasure. Meditation is enormously helpful for your mental health and inner peace, and is a habit I would like to practice daily going forward. A It sounded interesting, so it was decided that Lars and I would the ones who would be learning to meditate.I will be the first to admit that what I knew about meditation could fill a teaspoon.
Try starting your search with our Canadian directory of Buddhist centres and meditation retreats.
Buddhism does not claim an exclusive Truth; it is a way that has led many to the deepest fulfillment. We value the harmony of the sangha, and wish to address any concerns that may arise about possible unethical or inappropriate behavior. Recent studies show that just 11 hours of meditation can improve your overall brain performance). Weeks later when we arrived in Chiang Mai, we had been off our meditation game for almost two weeks.

Buddhism is a philosophy and way of life comprised of the various teachings and beliefs of Buddha. Despite not owning any material items except three identical monk robes, not seeing family or friends very often, not being able to marry or even touch a woman, and not having fun in any way except through meditation and education, they experienced such profound levels of happiness and peace. One of the principles of Buddhist mindfulness is to control mental objects, including sensual behavior.
Some dirty hippies took this as an opportunity to go barefoot everywhere, including outside. In the morning before our first session, our monk teacher asked if anyone could instruct the class in basic yoga. Monk 1 reminded him that he was to guide us in physical exercise such as yoga, to which Frenchie confidently replied yes, yes I know. Monk 2 teach us about Buddhism and meditation during the retreat, I thought to myself, I should become a Buddhist. Food is not to be eaten for pleasure, enjoyment, or happiness, and it is certainly not to be overeaten. You're simultaneously trying to eat mindfully and slowly and savor each bite, but the whole time you're eating you feel like a guilty sloth, which only makes you want to eat more and more! You can take a class at your local gym or yoga studio, or even download apps or YouTube videos that provide semi-guided meditation. A And I will also admit that I was a bit worried about the whole process of attending a Meditation Retreat! When we are touched by the infinite compassion that is the foundation of all existence, the desire to help all beings arises naturally. If you should have such a concern, you should feel free to discuss it with the priest of your or any OBC temple, any senior member of the Order or lay minister. To be fair, we did have spurts of diligence during which we meditated every day for ten minutes or so. Curious to know what the retreat entailed, I finally got my lazy ass to read the Buddhist monastery's website. At its core, Buddhism teaches its followers to do good, avoid bad, and spread loving and kindness. Basically, attending the retreat was a long and very difficult way of finding out what I already know: material things do not buy happiness and simplicity is the best way to live. After a few minutes of sitting in this position, you begin to feel like a cobra is lightly strangling your torso while you gasp for air; the sides of your feet, squished underneath your legs and pressed onto the cold hard floor, feel like they're being steam rolled. Max, on the other hand, was an extremely diligent student and practiced only sitting and walking meditation. Monks are not allowed to perform physical exercise aside from walking and cleaning, so he asked a student to volunteer. I love everything about it, from the sound of garlic sizzling in a hot oiled pan to the smell of butter and sugar melting into a delightful aroma when I'm baking. And I can never become a Buddhist because I love food too much and I will continue to overeat without feeling guilty. A Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain the program.Meditation Retreat ProcessAttendees can sign-up in person or online, and the workshop consists of two days at a meditation center.
Several more shots of Reinhart and his daughter growing up on Samos Island every two weeks of the year. By understanding and embracing both the egocentric side of ourselves and the purity which lies beneath, we come to realize that the Precepts are our life blood, and that to go against them causes suffering for ourselves and others.
Apparently the bodily pain is supposed to be so all-consuming that you can't let your mind wander to think other thoughts. I know this because many of these filthy hippies were seated in front of me during meditation practice, and when I wasn't falling asleep, I was losing my concentration because I felt nauseous looking at their blackened feet.
A Students arrive, fill out some paperwork, purchase the required white garments, and then are taken by songthaew to the a€?remotea€? campus which is about 45 minutes outside of the city. This reveals not only the cause of human suffering but the means by which we can bring our own suffering to an end. I was going to volunteer to guide the class in some basic non-yoga exercises but then a French dude said he would do it. I was expecting private lakeside bungalows with fluffy white beds, unlimited tropical smoothies, and a steam room. It's quite a lovely way to live your life without having to subscribe to an organized religion. I wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but I assumed it meant contract my abs or make my body tight. Not only was this highly uncomfortable to observe, but it was definitely the opposite of contracting. A I dona€™t have the sort of face that people give donations to; even if I am giving away flowers.
I was about to push him out of the way and yell, "Everyone drop and give me 20" but luckily Mr. A Lars on the other hand would be an awesome HK.So on the appropriate day, at the appropriate time, all of us walked to the university. A Lars and I did not get a chance to try on the clothing, so Heidi was not able to take our picture.We said a quick goodbye to the girls, and we went into a room with a bunch of other people.
A When it was time, a monk appeared, and gave us a presentation about Buddhism, the MCU Meditation programme, and asked each of us to state our names, country, and experience with meditation. A Our group had Germans, Australians, a Canadian, someone from the Czech Republic, a French person, a Brit, and three Americans.
A Most of us had little to no meditation experience, but there was one guy with over 20 years.With the introductions done, and the presentation completed, it was time for us to jump into the taxis and head to the Meditation Center. A Being cramped in the back of the songthaew made for a long 45-minute ride.Time for the Meditation Retreat!Once we arrived, the a€?campusa€? was very nice.
A There was the obligatory Buddha statue which dominated the open square in front of the buildings.
A I would guess that they had 60-80 rooms.As we were collecting our room keys, we were told that it had to be a€?men room with men, and women room with womena€?. A There was only one couple, but the guy seemed a bit bummed.Lars and I got to our room, and I was pleasantly surprised. A For grins, I tried on the t-shirt, and gave Lars a good laugh.Lars was trying on his pants, and it was kind of funny because the pants are so baggy that he couldna€™t hold his shirt up and tie them at the same time.
A Oh well.There were pads laid out on the floor, and Lars and I grabbed a couple of spots next to each other.

A I am a product of the media stereotypes that have been fed to me over the years, so whenever I think of monks, I think of strict, sword-wielding monks with no sense of humor. A While his English was very good, sometimes it was hard to understand, but he was very good to clarify if we werena€™t understanding him.We were about to do our first session, and he had us sitting cross-legged, and after about two minutes, my legs and butt are starting to hurt. A Seeing the discomfort on our faces, our Monk suggested that we get another pad, and that it was OK to stretch our legs out a bit. A Whew!Before meditation, the monk explained that we need to a€?praya€? to Buddha to show respect.
A Each of us had a sheet of paper in front of us that we could a€?reada€? when repeating after the monk.
A I wish I would have gotten a picture of the sheet.Our first meditation session was difficult. A Before this, I had thought that meditation was just sitting there, thinking of nothingness and everythingness.
A I naturally have a long stride, so when I walk with very small steps, it tends to bother my back. A Ia€™m glad to say that the last sitting session was very good.Our dinner was very simple vegetarian Pad Thai dish, and slices of watermelon. A Prior to eating, we recited sentences to help us reflect on the food that we were about to eat. A In the food hall, there was no talking, other than the aforementioned prayers, so we all ate in silence. A He also explained that if we didna€™t turn on our light when he started banging the bell, he would stand directly outside our door banging the bell louder and louder.
A Once we were in our room getting ready for bed, I could tell Lars was a bit on the bored side.
A It was harder the second time around, but eventually I fell asleep, and my alarm woke me at 5AM. A With both of us dressed and ready, we talked quietly about yesterdaya€™s activities, and what we would be doing today.
A Everyone looked in good spirits, and the monk talked to us a bit about what we would be doing.We got down to our first sitting meditation, and it was great. A We did another session, this one standing, and then the monk told us we could go outside, and do whatever kind of session we wanted, wherever we wanted. A I have no idea how long I was a€?undera€?, but when I opened my eyes, the morning sun was coming up, and Lars was working on his walking meditation. A It was a good session, but Ia€™ll admit that I was distracted a bit by all of the bird calls, but it was very relaxing.Once the free meditation sessions were done, it was time for the almsgiving. A The people take care of the monksa€™ physical needs, and the monks take care of the peoplea€™s spiritual needs. A There was also bread, butter, and jam available, so I helped myself.The rest of the morning was self-directed, and then lunch came. A After lunch we were back in the Meditation Hall, but we were sitting in a semicircle around the monk.
A Ita€™s funny how most of us were having problems during the first session, but the morning session was the most productive for all of us.The monk then described how in Thailand, the most common form of Buddhism practiced wasna€™t technically pure Buddhism, but a mix of Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
A Part of his duties as a monk are to teach the Thai people about the proper application of Buddhist principles. A It was very interesting to hear this, and it made me wonder how other religions such as Christianity or Islam may have changed or morphed into something not originally intended. A He started down his path as a monk when he was nine, and at thirty-two had been a monk for quite some time. A I thought he was in his early twenties, so I was a bit shocked.He described the 3-day celebration his parents had for him when he decided to become a monk.
A One of the students asked him if his parents were disappointed or sad that he became a monk, and he explained that it is a very honorable thing to have a monk as a son. A During my personal readings, I have discovered, that ita€™s quite common for a Thai male to become a novice monk for a season or even a short time as part of becoming adult.
A And in fact, those males that do become novices, even if for only a short time, are considered to be better potential husbands.Our monk was originally from Burma, so he pointed out the differences between what monks can or cannot do between Thailand and other countries. A For example, here in Thailand, monks are not allowed to drive, but driving or riding a scooter is considered OK in other countries.
A I didna€™t find the proper frame of mind, and I had a€?monkey minda€?; thoughts jumping around. A A little bit later he turned around, and my eyes were open, and we were both on the verge of chuckling. A The session ended shortly after that, and it turns out a lot of people had problems in the session.With the session over, I said thanks to the monk, and Lars and went to our room to pack.
A He said no, and I asked if it would be OK if the taxi dropped us off at our intersection.
A It was extremely hot, and I was not looking forward to walking back to the condo in that heat.
A The organizer was a bit confused, but when I told him the street where we wanted to stop, it was on the way to the university, so he told the driver, and it was set.During our trip back to the university, we almost got into an accident. A Lars and I wished everyone well, and we made our way home to a couple of girls who were very happy to see us. A Since wea€™ve moved from Spain, this is the first time we have not been around each other. A Ita€™s always good to get home!It was a very interesting experience, and I came away with a greater appreciation of Buddhism and Thai culture. A Ia€™ll be interested to see what Heidi thinks of the experience when she does it.Have you ever done any sort of meditation? About Alan Wagoner Alan digs on technology and travel and is definitely the comic in the family.
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