“Meditation – because not all answers can be answered by Google.”
I heard about Wat Tam Wua Forest monastery from Kristina, a girl I met in Cambodia. She spent there few days and told me that she would like to come back. After my Vipassana 10 days silence meditation experience in Bali I became more and more interested in working with and learning to control our mind. I still had bright memories of my inner peace and state of happiness, after Vipassana meditation, and I after listening Kristina’s stories about the life in monastery, I knew immediately that I want to visit this place.
The Vipassana mediation practised in Wat Tam Wua monastery is not the same as Goenca’s techique. Here Vipassana is practiced in walking meditation, sitting meditation and laying down meditation. And you are allowed to talk and interact with others.
Wat Tam Wua is a home for shorter or longer time for many travellers. To go there, one doesn’t need to apply in advance. You can just appear in front of the entrance of the monastery (mind your clothes, please!) and you will be welcomed by monastery monks and nuns, you will be given a room, white clothes (the dress code there is all white), informed about the daily schedule and welcomed to participate in the activity that comes next.
As you live in a monastery, you are expected to participate in daily work there – gardening, cleaning, cooking, doing dishes, in short – taking care of surroundings as much as of your soul. Basically, you are living a monastery life – a mindful, beautiful life.
[Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by,mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.]
I recall, how during my first evening chanting I was looking on people and monks in front of me and listening to goosebumps-giving melody and vibrations in the air: “Omg, I’m in Thailand, in a monastery, meditating next to Buddhist monks and hundreds of people from all corners of the world..”
I’d never dreamed about something like that, but it felt like some dream had come true for me.
I was looking on all these people – how much we all are alike and different in the same time. We all have different past, stories, things that happened to us and reasons that made us to come here. But, in the mean time, we all are seeking for the same thing – for a peaceful and equanemous mind, for the comfort inside ourselves. (Yes, even those who came there “just for sake of experience”). And it’s beautiful, when you realize, that all we really want is to be happy. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Every morning, shortly before 7 am we all gathered in main hall and prepared for morning alms giving. Each of us put a bit of rice in the bowls of monks while receiving blessings from them. The ceremony is very special and beautiful, – one of my favorite moments in a monastery.
The monastery has a big library where you can find books about Buddhism, Dalai Lama, mindfulness, chanting books, books about meditation and Vipassana. I spent there a lot of time reading.
Around the monastery’s area you can find papaya and mango trees. One afternoon we’d picked papaya from the trees and the day after we had green papaya salad for lunch. :)
There is also a dog. Everyone tells that he was a monk in his previous life. :) He participates in ever activity – in walking meditation, in alms giving, in chanting.. – yes he was chanting with us. In his doggy manner. And all accepted it and just let it be.
In the morning when I was leaving, he walked me till the highway (approx 1km from the monastery). There he sat with me and another girl and was waiting with us for a bus. When the bus finally came, he stood up and walked a little to the direction of the monastery, then stopped and looked back. He was standing there and looking on us untill we both boarded the bus. From the window of the running bus I saw him heading back to the monastery. He actually walked us out and said his doggy good byes.
That was literally one of the sweetest things I’ve ever experienced! Animals never stop to touch my heart!
The Schedule of Wat Tam Wua forest monastery
5:00 am: Waking up. Practice individual meditation.
7:00 am: Offering alms to monks in the shala (main hall), followed by breakfast
8:30 am: Group meditation (Vipassana)
10:30 am: Lunch (before offering the meal for the monks)
1:00 pm: Group meditation
4:00 pm: Practice mindfulness while working: cleaning surroundings, sweeping floors, helping in the kitchen
5:00 pm: Relax time, afternoon tea (no eating)
6:00 pm: Evening Chanting and meditation
8.30 pm: Lights off
10:00 pm: Sleeping
At first it may sem weird not eating after midday, but our bodies are very easy to be programmed and re-programmed, and after few days you get used to such a schedule. In case you still want to have a meal after midday, you can have it in your room or ir a small cafe shop near the monastery. (sometimes I had crackers in the afternoon.)
Getting there: Wat Tam Wua monastery is located 35 km from Mae Hung Son in Northern Thailand.
- From Chiang Mai: Board a bus to Mae Hung Son and ask the driver to stop at the monastery. Drivers see people going to monastery almost every day, they are used to people like us. :)
- From Pai: Take a minibus or bus to Mae Hung Son and ask a driver to stop at the monastery.
- From Mae Hung Son: Take any bus/minibus going to Pai/Chiang Mai direction and get off at the monastery! Driver will know!
Staying there: There is no minimum or maximum time how long you can stay there. It’s up to you, as far as you respect the rules and follow the daily schedule of the monastery. (Kristina, the girl I mentioned before, returned to the monastery and spent there 2 months.)
Fee: Monastery runs solely on donations. When you leave, you can put money in a big box next to Buddha statue as your thank you note. All donations are anonymous.
Dress-code: White. Shoulders and knees must be covered. If you don’t have white clothes, you will be given them at the monastery free of charge.
Meals: Simple, delicious Thai vegetarian food
“Here is certainly very peaceful,
but this is meaningless if our minds are not calm. All places are peaceful. That some may seem distracting is because of our minds.”
Love & Merry!