Meditation and retreat in Thailand - as I was silent for 7 days in the mountains of Samui

Surprisingly, many were interested in myrecent retreat experience (almost Vipassana) on Samui. I was told that recently such events have become more private and fashionable, but I did not think that almost everyone has heard at least something about it. When I learned about retreats 5 years ago, then so few people knew about it even remotely.

Please take a lenient attitude toward my post andthoughts in it. This is my first retreat experience, although I have been thinking about eternal questions and practices for quite some time. Perhaps all of this will seem to someone to be nonsense, to someone with incorrect interpretations, just remember that we all have our own perception of the world and our own explanations, we are all different. I only tell my experience / thoughts and only what I learned this week. This is not an informational post.

The content of the article

About life and the event itself

Vipassana means to see things as they are.there is. And it seems not quite correct to say “I was on Vipassana” or “practiced Vipassana”. But in common people so often say, and Google now also tells me that this is a kind of meditation technique, meditation courses. But oh well, we will not go into the terms and definitions. The event itself, where I was, is called a retreat, and the meditation technique that we practiced was Anapanasati (the practice of conscious breathing). That is, it is not quite Vipassana, but somewhere nearby. Our teacher said that there are various practices, one is more suited to one, to someone else.

Russian-language retreats take place in the Moscow region(Goenka centers), but I could not get there. I will not say that I was particularly eager to burn, because if I had burned, I would have got into it, probably. There are just a lot of participants, you need to sign up strongly in advance, and the places end a few minutes after the start of online registration. At least it was before. For several years I forgot about the existence of retreats and my desire to get there. And then I made a trip to Thailand and quite accidentally in the Vkontakte group I was dropped the link to the Dipabhavan meditation center. It turned out that at the very time when I would be on Samui, there would be a retreat in Russian (my understanding of English is no good), right on New Year's dates. Everything just fit perfectly in my itinerary, I could not go there. Moreover, I am very calm about celebrating the New Year and was glad that I could meet him far from Olivier and monotonous greetings. Plus, quite symbolically it turned out, as they say, how to meet the New Year, so spend it.

All participants of the New Year's retreat on Samui

All participants of the New Year's retreat on Samui

So, the retreat began on December 31st on the islandKoh Samui in Thailand near Lamai Beach. We were almost 90 people. Those who decided to meet the New Year in this way. I thought we would be much smaller. Initially, there was a mini-interview, where they again talked about the rules of conduct in the retreat center (to be silent, not to consume substances, to follow the mandatory daily routine) and asked about the intention to complete the retreat. It is unlikely that someone did not pass the interview, but once again it was possible for yourself to understand whether it was worth it. Then we took all the equipment and settled on the dormitory, separately male, separately female. Since I did not have a camera, all the photos were taken on the last day before departure.

After the introductory lecture and short overviewexcursions, where everything is, the rule of silence (silence) has come into force. And began our everyday life. Funny the first night I woke up from the salute and for a long time could not understand what it was, then I remembered that it was the New Year and calmly fell asleep.

The rise we had in 4:30 in the morning, and at 5 in the morning readings began (read out passages from books). at 5:15 the first session of meditation, yoga, another session of meditation at 7:30 breakfast. Fed 2 times a day, lunch was at 11:30. And at 17:30 evening tea with banana (and sometimes without). Between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and evening tea, and after evening tea there were lectures and meditation sessions. Only about 6 hours of meditation per day. End of classes at 21:00 and at 21:30. Time fought back with a gong.

Meditation room

Meditation room

It overlooks the beach, watched while meditating while standing

It overlooks the beach, watched while meditating while standing

Here either a volunteer or a teacher sat, supporting us with his appearance

Here either a volunteer or a teacher sat, supporting us with his appearance

The so-called Russian sala, here in the morning you can do yoga

The so-called Russian sala, here in the morning you can do yoga

The gong that woke us up every morning

The gong that woke us up every morning

The food was Thai, simple and uncomplicated, likeusually rice with vegetables (all food is vegetarian, egg maximum). Every day they gave 2-3 small slices of watermelon, a couple of bananas and a dessert from something incomprehensible Thai in a pot. Every time you open it, you look and you do not understand what it is. Then you even begin to eat, and still it is not clear. In general, it was difficult to remain hungry, as it was possible to go up several times and put yourself still. But 2 times a day, as well as just such a diet, obviously not everyone will like.

Dishes washed independently and fairly sparingly.- in 4 basins: in the first one there is very soapy water, in the second one it is less soapy, in the third and fourth one without soap. Very much to the amateur way, squeamish people do not like it at all.

Dining hall and table with food, where everyone is suitable in turn

Dining hall and table with food, where everyone is suitable in turn

Outwardly ugly, but delicious rice porridge with ginger

Outwardly ugly, but delicious rice porridge with ginger

Fruit is always strictly by quantity.

Fruit is always strictly by quantity.

Washing dishes in 4 basins

Washing dishes in 4 basins

Room for evening tea and full-screen TV

Room for evening tea, and full-wall panoramic TV

We slept on wooden beds on the mat, thenThere are no mattresses. Who had a travel mat or yoga mat with them, they were much softer to sleep. They gave shelter a thin blanket, you know that, like a fleece blanket. I slept on one half of the blanket, the second half was hiding. I was tough, but not cold, the temperature did not fall, it seems to me, below 24-25 degrees.

We washed with cold water (no water heaters),Washed scooping from tanks, to save water. Men, I think, very few people brought difficulties, but the girls with long hair was more difficult. Water, of course, is not as cold as in Russia, but not warm, at room temperature somewhere. There was no toilet paper in the toilets, but it could be bought at the store, which most did.

Male dormitory

Male dormitory

My wooden bed with mat

My wooden bed with mat

Wooden cushion for very advanced

Wooden cushion for very advanced

How do you like the combination

How do you like the combination of "men's souls"? :)

Right here scooping up for washing

Right here scooping up for washing

Everyone else during registration on the first day chosesocial work: sweeping the paths, washing the toilets, wiping the dishes, washing the floors in the rooms and so on. I got to clean the toilet. Well, there was another option, but for some reason I signed up for the toilets.

Here I washed this toilet and 3 more people

Here I washed this toilet and 3 more people

On the last 6th day in the evening, we all gathered inmeditation hall and anyone could go to the microphone and talk about their experiences and impressions. With each new performance, all these closed and strangers became more and more relatives. It was really a big family feeling. Well, and of course, it was interesting to hear who had what results, so that it was the most difficult, which was annoying, and it turned out to be the easiest to compare with your feelings. Of course, on the 7th day before departure, we then talked for a very long time and a lot, sharing our impressions. It's funny, several people told me that I have a very stern face in prostration. I told others the same thing, that I was afraid to look and smile. It turned out all kind and cheerful people and love to talk. And we thought about ourselves about others.

Briefly about meditation

Meditation is a good practice. It develops mindfulness, develops the mind. Try to follow your breathing for at least 10 minutes without any distractions. This is such a force of will and the ability to concentrate need. Our teacher Ajahn Hubert said that the essence of meditation is not in the correct posture, not in a fixed seat, but in the ability to control one’s mind. That is, that not he controlled us, and we them. Then we can observe our emotions and decide how much we want to get involved in them, regardless of whether this emotion is negative or positive. Because usually we get involved in emotions uncontrollably and this causes us suffering. We are upset, angry, offended. Meditation can help a person to reduce his suffering, teach him to observe his thoughts and emotions, without being involved in them, thereby simplifying his attitude towards something. You know, as they often say, you cannot change the situation, change your attitude towards it. At the retreat, very well managed to feel what it means.

A conscious approach to life is very important, almostmore important than the meditation itself. In fact, this is the same practice only in everyday life. Be aware of yourself every time in the present moment. The word “real” has 2 meanings in the Russian language: now and real, worthwhile. Therefore, the “present moment” very well reflects the meaning of awareness. We used to do a lot of things automatically, without thinking at all: eat, brush your teeth, go to the subway to work, kiss the child before leaving home. Perhaps only in some bright moments we really realize them. For example, when we see a beautiful sunset, when we climbed to the top of the mountain after a week's journey with a backpack, when we get off the plane somewhere in Bangkok and smell the beloved Asia, or when we went to a chaise lounge on the first day of vacation with a glass of something refreshing in hand and finally relaxed after a year of hard work. Each will have their own conscious moments.

But all life consists for the most part just fromcurrent moments and dim moments that we do not notice, while the mind is busy with fuss, thoughts about the past and the future, washing different situations, and so on. As a result, we do not really live, we miss life. Of course, the question is, is it necessary to be aware of such ordinary actions as brushing your teeth? I do not know. But to be more attentive to life certainly makes sense. At least I understood it for myself. Especially when we are close to our loved ones, when we say something, both pleasant and not so good, when we behave in certain situations. Still, the life brought to automatism is not life, in it you can go very far from what you originally wanted and planned. And then look back and uh, and 10 years have passed, but you did not notice. Moreover, for some reason you are not at all there and did something completely different. Well, there is such a possibility.

Here you can still write a lot of text, but I wrote only what I thought was very important to me. I think then after a year it will be very interesting to re-read this post.

My impressions and experience

This was my first meditation experience. So that is specifically to do it. Similar things happened and just in life, for example, marching meditation during long and physical exertion, orwhen you are driving a thousand kilometers in one sitting, but this is not something that is not a retreat. By the way, the big role was played by the fact that I was not alone, but we were many, imperceptibly we supported each other. You see everyone is sitting around, not stirring, and it becomes a little easier for you to continue. In general, a very interesting experience turned out. In something difficult, in something not. I'll try to tell you.

Back on day zero, I wondered whyI came here and who are these people. Not right to want to escape, but they didn’t give rest to the thought that I had a lot of work and work there, I could just sit quietly for a week at a computer, and not retreat there. Somewhere before the 3rd day they didn’t leave the thought that you could leave. It is good that in my head there was a firm intention to reach the end. After the equator, it became easier, and on the last day it was even a little sad that everything was already over.

Surprisingly, ascetic and not comfortablethe conditions did not cause my irritation or any difficulties at all. Not comfortable, but not difficult. Perhaps the experience of walking on hikes, when I had to sleep in a tent and eat simple food, as well as budget travel in Asia with overnight stays in hostels, prepared me for this. Some participants said that it was really very difficult for them. Still, feeding 2 times a day is a very simple meal and a night on a piece of wood is not a sanatorium. Although here it should be noted that our retreat is still a light version, since usually the whole action lasts 10 days, eating only once a day, almost no lectures and 10 hours of meditation a day. We had about 6 hours of meditation.

Probably the only thing that strained isdaily rain. Everything was wet, the washed clothes did not dry, and it was rotten, the walls of the bed were covered with white mold, the legs were constantly wet, as you walk through the puddles in the shales. And yes, I wanted cookies! Well, or something sweet to tea. Foolish habit. On the first day we were given them for dinner and I thought they would continue to give them, but on the third day it became clear that our tea with banana was all. And from the physical inconvenience - I could not sleep well, such early waking up was given with difficulty. The first few days I slept more and at all breaks, then it became easier.

But the most difficult for me was the practice itself. I can not imagine how you can sit for hours and follow the breath. Anapanasati is a technique when we monitor inhaling and exhaling (you can follow the physical sensations of the passage of air), without distracting your mind. This is just hell! My mind was constantly bored and flew away in thought. I could go on thinking for about five minutes, and only after that I remembered that I was following my breath. I sat and waited, when at last they hit the gong and it would be possible to do something else. Most of all I liked the lectures, at least some kind of food for the mind.

So you had to sit for 6 hours a day

So you had to sit for 6 hours a day

I, as a person accustomed to perpetual online andInternet, you need almost round-the-clock consumption of information. It was very difficult in this information vacuum. It is impossible to read, to talk too, there is nothing interesting around. I remembered who was sitting where, memorized clothes, paid attention to who had what pedicure and rings on the legs, the color of the leaves of the plants around, the drawing of the steps at the stairs. And to lie down to think before going to bed or during a break was any activity of mine. After all, it was also undesirable to dive into thoughts, ideally, to practice all the time.

Very well remembered this colorful bush

Very well remembered this colorful bush

Staircase leading to the dining room

Staircase leading to the dining room

The 5th day was the toughest. There were no lectures, only meditation. And on this day, probably, the only time during the entire retreat, I managed for a long time not to be distracted by thoughts and I fell into some black thing. Not for long. But the sensations are interesting. It is as if from the inside (or from somewhere else) you look at everything around, practically not feeling your body, but at the same time easily controlling your breathing. It is difficult to describe. Sorry, they hit the gong and I instantly fell back.

But silence was easy. Full I was surprised too. I did not think that 7 days in silence is so simple. On the other hand, I am an introvert and do not need constant communication. However, when the ban on silence on the 7th day was lifted, I just suffered, so many emotions, so many wanted to share. After a couple of days, he let go, the emotional lift ended, and even a little decadent mood began in contrast. But then everything became exactly, the pendulum ended.

On the last day a lot of positive emotions.

On the last day a lot of positive emotions.

If we talk about whether meditation helped, then howsaid our teacher Ajahn Hubert, you need to look at the results. In my case, they lie in the fact that during the retreat and now - the mind has become much calmer. He is less tired and fussing. But it is clear that this is a temporary phenomenon and the effect will soon disappear. Therefore, ideally, continue to practice, at least 10 minutes a day. Again, as Ajahn Hubert said, it’s better to have 10 non-tense minutes for a year to become a habit, than to meditate for an hour, but there will only be enough enthusiasm for a couple of weeks. Generally, given that I had no expectations at all from this event, they were more than justified.

I am with Ajahn Hubert

I am with Ajahn Hubert

Probably, you wonder if I will practicemeditation? I dont know. And also I do not know if I will go to retreat. It is too early to talk about it. In general, you know, I liked the idea of ​​a conscious approach to life, when in everyday life you show more attentiveness. If at least I can realize this, then it's great. I would also like to note that the retreat did not make me different, I remained the same. It is very unlikely that meditation for a few days can change a person, rather, he can understand something for himself or see something in himself, and that’s not a fact. Well, this is to the questions of my friends, “well, how?”, “Enlightened?”, “What insights have come?”.

On the map

Just in case, add a card, although if youIf you are going to retreat, then you will be greeted near the Utopia Resort Hotel or The Icon building. In the letter after registration at the retreat will be all the necessary information.

From this hotel there is a transfer to Deepabhavan.

From this hotel there is a transfer to Deepabhavan.

Meditation Center Deepabhavan

Meditation Center Deepabhavan
In this center, there are English-speaking and Russian-language retreats. I was at one of them.
Read more.

So you had to sit for 6 hours a day

In this center, there are English-speaking and Russian-language retreats. I was at one of them. In more detail.

P.S. Something long post turned out, but in fact not all told. Ask questions if something is interesting. By the way, the fate of Russian-language retreats on Samui is still in question. Ajahn Hubert leaves for Latvia.

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