Meditationtion is a way to train and cultivate the mind, to develop concentration, mindfulness and awareness. Buddhism offers calmness or concentration meditation and vipassana or insight meditation. Anapanasati or Mindfulness with Breathing, the meditation method taught at Suan Mokkh, covers both, concentration and insight meditation. But during the first days of the retreat we will mainly train you in concentration meditation by focusing attention on breathing. Detailed instruction is given throughout the retreat. All instruction and talks are given in English.
Meditation takes energy and commitment, determination and discipline. Doing a 10-day retreat is, especially for beginners, not easy. We have to adjust our bodies and minds to the retreat settings:
- We have to get up early and adjust to less sleep.
- We have to adjust to the schedule which everybody is asked to follow completely.
- We have to live on 2 vegetarian meals a day.
- We have to deal with bodily discomfort.
- We may have to experience a lot of "ups" and "downs" during the retreat.
Body and mind are not used to these very different circumstances and they may react with discomfort, with restlessness, with boredom, with doubt, with feeling very tired. For these reasons the daily schedule is not that challenging, tailored for beginners, but still it will take three or four days to adjust to all these new circumstances. After that you should be able to float within your new environment without having to fight and struggle against too much discomfort.
During the retreat, all participants are required to observe some basic rules. This is for the
benefit of everyone - a very important part of getting you to the right frame of mind
for meditation - and because you will be staying on monastery grounds. You must:
This is the moral code for those who seek normalcy plus lightness and simplicity in living.
- Keep complete silence throughout the retreat (exceptions: personal interviews from Day 3 to Day 6 and emergencies).
- Stay within the boundaries of the retreat center.
- Keep the Eight Precepts, which are:
- Intend not to take away any breath(abstain from killing).
- Intend not to take away what is not given (abstain from stealing).
- Intend to keep one's mind and one's body free from any sexual activity.
- Intend not to harm others by speech.
- Intend not to harm one's consciousness with substances that intoxicate
and lead to carelessness (no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking etc).
- Intend not to eat between after noon and before dawn.
- Intend not to dance, sing, play or listen to music, watch shows, wear garlands, ornaments and beautify oneself with perfumes and cosmetics.
- Intend not to sleep or sit on luxurious beds and seats.