A few weeks ago, I made an experiment that I never thought I could do, but I finally jumped into it. It’s been a long time since I first consider the idea, but not very seriously and I didn’t really want to do it in France where the places that offer this kind of things are a little bit too commercial.
Here is a glimpse of how a day goes at Wat Umong temple in Chiang Mai:
– 4:30 Wake-up with the bells sound
– 5:00 Morning chantings with the monks
– 7:00 Swiping around the temple
– 7:30 Breakfast in silence
– 9:00 Teaching with the monks
– 11:00 Lunch in silence (and last meal of the day)
– 14:00 Meditation on you own
– 16:00 Swiping around the temple
– 19:00 Evening chantings with the monk and teaching
– 21:00 Bed time
This is what days look like at the temple. The empty hours are supposed to be spent meditating, reading books about meditation or about Buddha, books are available in the meditation rooms.
When I arrived, they gave me a white outfit that all the guests are supposed to wear, it’s the same in all the temples.
We were about ten, with people arriving and leaving every day, mostly thai people, as it is a common practice to them, they spend a few days in a temple about twice a year.
Discipline at Wat Umong is not as strict as in some other temples, for example it’s not forbidden to speak a little bit with the others, even if you can feel a very quiet atmosphere. In other temples, they teach Vipassana which is much more difficult as you are not allowed to have any contact or eye contact with anybody else. Too hard for me !
How did I felt during this experiment ?
By the time I was at the temple, I really felt the slow rhythm. I felt as I was having a huge break, more conscious, more able to try the meditation technics teacher by the monks.
But it was not always easy, especially in the evening, when I was alone in the tiny room with only a thin mat on the floor and no distraction. We were not supposed to use our phones, but as everything, the experiment is based on self-control and will, so no checking or sanction by the monks. I didn’t use the internet but I broke the rules a little bit when one night, I edited all my photos on my phone for my next articles !
So, even with a good will, it was a little bit hard for me to be in a meditative mood all the time. But I guess everyone do what they can and it was a great experiment anyway !
To stay at the temple, I went there a few days before to grab some informations and take pictures because the park is amazing. Wat Umong is well-known for its localization in the forest and the part of the temple which is built in tunnels. Inside, a few statues of the Buddha, encense and candles at every corner. During the meditation retreat, all the activities are happening in the two meditation rooms, but during the free time, we were allowed to go meditating where we wanted in the park.
What I liked :
– The true break, this time offered to change my view angle and priorities for a few days. It was confusing but instructive and even if I think you need more time there to feel a real change or spiritual journey, it was a great start.
– The monks teaching, their nice smile, not too enthusiastic, not too strict.
They have a different aura, the way they speak and live, it’s totally weird for us but it can also be an inspiration.
– I did researches before choosing a temple and I am glad I chose Wat Umong. First because the place is beautiful and because it was not too strict, based on everyone’s abilities and will. They suggest, you take it or not, but always being respectful of the temple and monks of course.
Would you like to do a meditation retreat ? Have you already done it ?