10 days living like Buddhist monks in Chaiya
Before we left I decided to follow various travel blogs as a source of inspiration. One night I read about the silent retreat in Chaiya, Thailand and got totally intrigued.
Imagine this: 10 full days (+ 1 night before and after) of sleeping on a concrete bed with a wooden pillow, eating only vegetarian food at 8h and 12h (and none in the afternoon), getting up at 4am and going to bed at 9.30pm with only meditation, yoga and dhamma talks in between, no talking and no shower (only bowls of water). Tell me, wouldn’t you like to know if you could handle it? I sure did…
The goal was mostly to meditate but I soon discovered my mind was hard to keep quiet. So I took the time to appreciate the absolute silence surrounding me and to enjoy the positive effects on my back from sitting on a meditation bench all day long. It was also funny how I started noticing patterns in nature: when I heard the rain coming over the mountains in the afternoon I was certain (and right) it was 4pm.
Only eating twice a day wasn’t as hard as I expected (no hungry feelings at all) and getting up at 4am wasn’t always a drag either. The concrete bed did bruise my hips and ribs a bit but even that was something I eventually overcame. It was nice to know I could get along with less.
The surroundings were incredibly peaceful and I spent many of my walking meditation hours wandering around the area and staring at nature. It really brought me some peace of mind.
Suan Mokkh silent retreat travel information
- Website: Suan Mokkh
- Dates: Starts every 1st day of the month officially, but you need to be there the day in advance (before 15h) to get yourself signed up. From 19h onwards that day you need to be silent and you’ll be sleeping on your concrete bed. You then stay 10 full days + 1 final night.
- Costs: 2000 baht
- Basic rules: No food after 12pm (and not bringing snacks with you either), complete silence, no smoking, no communication (phone/letters/…), stay at the retreat and follow the 8 precepts of Buddhism.
- Good to know: The days before and after the retreat we stayed in Surat Thani, which I can highly recommend. It’s a lovely little town with super sweet people and a great evening market.