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Buddhist Meditation in Thailand
Any of us have at one time or another found the toll of living in the modern world hard to bear. Stress, depression and disillusionment are some of the diseases of modern times that leave us yearning for a solution, a cure, so to speak. More and more people are turning to meditation as they fail to find the answer through worldly paths. Buddhist Meditation
Buddhist Meditation

Meditation is found in some form or other in all major religious traditions. Even those who are not religious use it to focus the mind, to hone it, so that it works better. In Buddhism, meditation is the integral to the eight-fold path to enlightenment. One trains one’s mind so that it can see the four-point Supreme Truth that forms the core of Buddha’s teachings: suffering, what causes it, the end of suffering, and the path to that end. Even if you are not interested in Buddhism, meditation is a valuable training that can be applied to daily life, for it helps with concentration and when done correctly can lead to a state of peace and calmness that’s beyond worldly joys.

There are two main banches in Buddhist meditation: samatha (calmness, concentration) and vipassana (insight), which stresses mindfulness. This doesn’t mean that the two are entirely separate, since you cannot be mindful unless you have at least some level of concentration.

The techniques of samatha meditation are many, some older than Buddhism, others developed after the time of the Buddha. Among the most commonly practiced here is anapanasati, or "mindfulness with breathing". This technique was advocated by the Venerable Buddhadasa Bhikku (1903-1993), founder of Suan Mokkh Forest Monastery in Surat Thani. Meditators at Suan Mokkh (Garden of Liberation), follow the 16 steps of anapanasati as laid down in Pali texts.

Mantra meditation, in which you repeat a few words over and over, is also widely practiced. Followers of this technique may chant "Buddh" as they inhale, and “dho” as they exhale. The words may vary, but the purpose of chanting is really to get the mind focused. Yet another widely taught technique is kasinas, where meditators concentrate on an object outside themselves, such as the flame of a candle, or a crystal ball.

Sati, or mindfulness, is key to vipassana meditation. You train yourself to be aware of the body’s action, the rise and fall of your chest as you inhale and exhale, the movement of your feet and legs as you walk, as well as your feelings, your thought, and finally, the state of mind you are in. Walking, sitting and lying meditation are but a few of vipassana techniques. When the mind is untrained, concentration can be shattered by the slightest stimuli -noise, smell, heat, hunger, pain, etc. The key is to become aware of what happens, but not dwell on it. Still, a novice can only ward off so much distraction, and that’s one reason why vipassana retreats are usually held in peaceful and isolated settings.

Meditation teachings are widely available in Thailand. You can attend a class at one of the teaching monasteries for an afternoon or evening. Wat Mahadhatu near the Grand Palace, for example, has two meditation training centers open to locals and tourists. Or you may join a vipassana retreat, which usually takes a weekend or longer. A number of retreat centers, most of them located in the provinces, run intensive courses of up to four weeks on an ongoing basis. All vipassana retreats require you to follow the Five Buddhist Precepts. These include refraining from harming all living beings, from taking what is not given, from improper sexual behavior, from lying and incorrect speech, and from taking liquors and drugs that will cloud the mind. Some retreats may require that you take you take the Eight Precepts, which in addition to the first five include refraining from dinner, from all forms of entertainment and bodily decoration, and from sleeping on high mattresses.
Preparing for Meditation
Buddhist Meditation
Preparing for Meditation
Respect for one’s teacher is inherent in Thai culture. At the start of a vipassana session, you must attend an opening ceremony, where you pay respect to the meditation masters and present them with traditional Buddhist offerings of incense sticks, candles and flowers - usually three lotuses or a hand garland. There is also a closing ceremony, where you thank your teachers and bid them a formal farewell. Even if you cannot stay for the duration of the course, be sure to perform this ritual before you leave, since not doing so is considered very rude.

Once you get enrolled in a course, be sure to follow only the technique taught there. Mixing techniques will only confuse you. Usually, you are given instructions daily, and required to report your progress - or lack of it-to your meditation master on the following day. After the interview you will be given advice and new instructions, or old ones to repeat.

All-white, modest clothing is required at vipassana retreats. Check ahead if there is a shop on the compound, or if you have to bring your own. At most monasteries, simple accommodation and food are provided, usually free of charge. Talking, reading and writing are discouraged, as they will distract you from your meditation. And meditators are not allowed to leave the retreat compound unless absolutely necessary, so be sure to bring enough change of clothes, toiletries and personal items for the duration of the course.

For first-time meditators, it might help to attend a day session or two before you join a long retreat. Bangkok has a number of meditation centers offering day classes in English. Many temples around the country also teach samatha and vipassana meditation. Contact the nearest office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for a list of local temples where English-speaking classes can be arranged.

Where to Learn Buddhist Meditation
Central
Section Five, Wat Mahathat Yuwarajarangsarit Rajaworamahavihara
Location : 3, Tha Prachan, Pranakorn, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel. : 0 2223 6878
Thais and foreigners have long come to Section Five of Wat Mahadhatu to learn mindfulness meditation. Classes are held from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m., 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. These are mixed; at any given session there will be beginners and advanced meditators, monks and laymen, locals and tourists. English-speaking instruction is available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can come for a retreat of three days or longer. Meals and accommodation are provided on the compounds free of charge. Bring enough sets of clothes, toiletries and personal items, and an offering of flowers, a candle and nine sticks of incense for the opening ceremony. Donations are accepted but not solicited.
The Middle Way Meditation Retreat (POP House)
Location : POP House, Klongsong, Klongluang, Pathumthani, Thailand
Tel. : 08 7495 1616
website : www.pophouse.info
The Power of Peace House (POP House) welcomes you to join our meditation course. During your 3 days with us, you will learn how to meditate to relax both the mind and body amidst the peaceful, natural environment and family atmosphere. The program will introduce meditation concept and meditation practice to participants. The meditation method we use at POP house is the Middle Way meditation technique (Dhammakaya), one of the most ancient techniques of meditation in the world. Its simplicity originality and effectiveness has made the Middle way method among the most popular meditation techniques in Thailand and its international popularity is growing fast. Middle way meditation is all about self-discovery relaxation and purification of the mind. This meditation will have no conflict with any religion or creed, a meditation that you can use in your every day activities that will create peace in your life.
The Young Buddhists Association of Thailand (YBAT) - Under Royal Patronage
Location : 4 Phetchkasem Road Soi 54 Bangduan Phasicharoen Bangkok, Thailand
Tel. : 0 2455 2525
Website : www.ybat.org/eng/
YBAT was founded by a group of committed young men and women who wanted to learn more about Buddhism and to disseminate it to Thai Society. The Yuwabuddhiga Group held successful Sunday Dhamma activities and meditation classes. As a result, senior Buddhists praised them for showing young people the relevance of Buddhism to their lives and that Buddhism is not only for older people but it is appropriate for the younger generation as well.

YBAT has been active in the promotion of meditation practice for over five decades. Five YBAT meditation centers have been established with support from lay Buddhists and former participants in Mother Dr. Siri Karinchai's 'Mind development for peace and wisdom courses'. 
East
Wat Bhaddanta Asahba Theravada & Sommitre Pranee Vipassana Center
Location : Moo 1, Baan Nong Pru, Nong Pai Kaiw, Baan Bung, Chonburi, Thailand
Tel. : 0 3829 2361
Meditation Master : Ajahn Bhaddanta Asabha, Ajahn Somsak Sorado.
Capacity : 30 persons (Recommend booking in advance)
The retreat is widely open for both beginner and experienced meditators. On the retreat, all meditators are expected to keep silence at all times except when giving meditation reports. All meditators must keep the eight training precepts. Meditators need only bring conservative clothing (preferably white colored clothing), personal hygiene accessories and essential medication.

Ajahn Asabha was Head Meditation Master at Vivek Asom Meditation Center (Chonburi, Thailand), where he taught vipassana meditation for 37 years. In 1999, Ajahn Asabha became President of Wat Bhaddanta Asabha Theravada and Head Meditation Master at Sommit Pranee Vipassana Meditation Center, where he now resides.

Ajahn Somsak Sorado, a disciple of Ajahn Asabha, has been teaching vipassana meditation at Vivek Asom Meditation Center for over 5 years. He was in the United States on Buddhist missionary duties for 2 years and is now permanently stationed at Wat Bhaddanta Asabha Theravada.
North
Northern Insight Meditation Center at Wat Rampoeng (Tapotharam)
Location : Tumbon Suthep, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel.: 0 5327 8620 ext 0
The Northern Insight Meditation Center has been teaching mindfulness meditation to thousands of tourists and locals for more than 20 years. It has English-speaking monks, nuns and volunteer facilitators on staff. The center offers a 26-day basic course on an ongoing basis. After you have completed this course you can join the 10-day Insight Meditation Retreat. Tourists are required to present two passport photos, two copies each of a valid passport and visa with entry stamp. Modest white clothing is required; this can be bought at the Temple’s store. Dormitory-style accommodation and meals are provided free of charge. Donations are accepted but not solicited.
The Middle Way Meditation Retreat in Chiang Mai
Dhamma Research for Environment Foundation
Location : Wat Suan Dok, Amphoe Suthep, Chiangmai, Thailand
Tel. : 0 5321 1424
Website. : www.meditationthai.org
Surrounded by picturesque hills and lofty mountains at 1,120 meters above sea level. The Middle way Meditation Village has magnificent vistas, fresh cool mountain air and our facilities provide immaculate and comfortable accommodations, all designed to enable you to learn and practice Meditation while living in close touch with the natural beauty that will surround you. There you will learn the Dhammakaya method of Meditation which is both the simplest and the oldest known technique in the world, taught by ordained highly trained Buddhist Monks expert Meditation instructors!
Wat Phra Dhatu Sri Chomthong
Location : Moo 2, Tumbon Baan Luang, Amphoe Chomthong, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel. : 0 5382 6869
This temple is headed by the monk who founded the Northern Insight Meditation Center at Wat Rampoeng. Meditation retreats are held on an ongoing basis. Meditators must present identification card or valid passport, and inform the temple of their intended length of stay. Then they can choose whether to follow the Five or Eight Precepts. The temple provides meals and simple, dormitory-style lodgings, most with their own bathroom. Proper clothing is available at a shop next door to the monastery. Bookings are advised, since the retreats draw large crowds during major Buddhist holidays and Chinese vegetarian festival.
North East
Wat Pah Nanachat
Location : Bung Wai Amphoe Warin Chamrab Ubon Rachathani, Thailand
Website : www.watpahnanachat.org
Wat Pah Nanachat is a Buddhist monastery in Northeast Thailand, in the Theravada Forest Tradition. It was established in 1975 by Ven. Ajahn Chah (1918-1992) as a branch monastery close to his own traditional forest monastery Wat Nong Pah Pong in Ubon Rajathani province, with Ven. Ajahn Sumedho, an American disciple of his, as the first abbot.The monastery aims at providing English-speaking people the opportunity to train and practise the ancient lifestyle that the Buddha taught his monks in the forests over 2600 years ago.
South
Suan Mokkh Forest Monastery
Location : Amphoe Chaiya, Surat Thani, Thailand
Tel. : 0 7743 1596-7, 0 7743 1661-2 7
Website : www.suanmokkh.org
Founded in 1932 by the late Venerable Buddhadasa Bhikku, meditation master and Buddhist scholar, Suan Mokkh holds a 10-day meditation course on an ongoing basis. During the course participants will explore two inter-related subjects: dhamma and meditation. Meditation instruction focuses on mindfulness with breathing (anapanasati), a system of training used and taught most often by the Buddha. Dhamma talks are held daily, and everyone is encouraged to participate. English-speaking facilitators called “Friends” offer guidance on meditation practice and all other aspects of the course.
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