Suan Mokkh: 10 Day Silent & Meditation Retreat in Thailand

When people think about traveling through South East Asia, the first thought that typically comes is the idea of their pristine beaches, wild parties, elephants, delicious exotic food, beautiful women and one of a kind temples.
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Many eager travelers from all across the world flock to Thailand each and every year to get a little taste of this paradise, at a price that will blow your mind!
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After an amazing month of traveling throughout Thailand, immersing myself in the culture, meeting all kinds of amazing people, exploring the islands and even attending one of the craziest parties on Earth, the Full Moon Party, I realized that I desperately needed a change of pace.
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Sometimes when you least expect it, life has a way of throwing curve balls. That is exactly what happened to me the day of the Full Moon Party, as I riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle through Ko Samui Island.
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My driver suddenly lost control of our bike and sent us both flying through the air. The impact caused both of our helmets to go flying and we both suffered serious injuries. We were taken 45 minutes away by ambulance to the closest hospital and from there all of our plans completely changed.
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This unfortunate situation truly opened my eyes and helped me to see how fragile life really is how anything can change in just a blink of an eye.

After my accident, I was told by the doctors that I would not be able to travel for a period of time, especially the way that I was used to. I was only 2 weeks into my 5 month long trip through Asia and this news was a huge shock to me.
Instead of losing hope, I decided to check out my options in Thailand and look for an experience that was low key and peaceful, while I figured out what steps I needed to take in order to get healed.
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It was in a moment of desperation that I found a 10 day silent/meditation retreat called Suan Mokkh, that luckily was only a week away from starting, and did not require any sort of pre registration.
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I had previously done a 10 day retreat called Vipassana in India, but from what I read, Suan Mokkh was a whole different type of experience, combining different styles of meditation (sitting, walking, group) and yoga.
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Given that I was limited in what I was able to do, the challenge seemed suitable for me and my condition, so shortly after learning about the retreat, I took a road trip to the retreat site and prepared for a very challenging, but rewarding 10 days of silence.
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My mind was a crazy, uncontrolled disaster upon entering into Suan Mokkh.  I felt untamable…..

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All of my thoughts were going in different directions and I spent hours a day worrying about my previous collarbone injury and how I would manage to travel with a broken collarbone.
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On top of that, I felt an overwhelming sense of stress related to work assignments, social media and collaborations. I literally felt like I would be incapable to turn off all my devices and enter into a completely silent world, especially for 10 whole days!
 

WHAT IS SUAN MOKKH? 

 
This is a monastery out in the middle of nature, where many monks live and study. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, which means Servant of Buddha, is the one that founded this magical place in 1989. Since then, thousands of people all over the world have been able to visit and have a unique experience that you can’t get anywhere on Earth.
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At this beautiful, peaceful getaway, one will get to have the opportunity to live with the monks during 10 full days in a stress free atmosphere, surrounding by nothing more than other mediators, monks and nature.
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This place attracts more than 1000 foreigners each and every year, although not all of people that start the retreat will actually finish.
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RULES

  • No talking or non verbal communication during 10 days
  • Electronic Free (cell phone, Ipods, cameras, computers, video games, radio etc)
  • No personal books (you may read books they have assigned during break time, after a few days of being there).
  • No sexual activity (including masturbation).
  • No alcohol, drugs, caffeine or tobacco.
  • No snacks
  • No shared rooms (males and females in separate buildings).
  • No meals after noon time (2 Vegetarian meals/day + 1 drink in evening).
  • No shoes in meditation hall, rooms or kitchen.

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NOTE: This retreat is not for the weak in mind. I can tell you from personal experience that it can be a shock to the body and possibly cause you moments of severe anxiety, especially if you have any sort of addictions (caffeine, cigarettes, etc).

Keep in mind that all of the comforts that one tends have on a normal day to day basis, such as 5 meals, a comfortable bed and the ability to talk and move around freely are completely monitored and restricted.

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If you keep your mind open and embrace the change, it can be an excellent experience.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Registration is done in person on the last day of the previous month by 3pm. The option is available to sleep the night before registration on site (free of charge).

Location: Suratthani, Thailand.

Cost: 2,000 baht (non refundable) = $65.00

Language: ONLY English (it’s very important to have a good level of English if you want to get the most out of the experiences and lessons that are taught each day).

ALL Dhamma teachings are done in English.

Arriving: There is a bus from Suratthani that will take you directly to the retreat. Mention that you want to get off at Wat Suan Mokkh (What Soo-An Mock) and the driver will lead you there for around 50 Baht  ($1.45).

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WHAT TO TAKE

Given that the location is far off into the woods, the main thing you want to make sure that you load up on is mosquito repellent. Due to the mosquitos, its always helpful to take socks (even if its hot) to serve as extra protection against them.

It’s mandatory to wear loose fitting, non see through clothing. Anything that draws attention to the body is not allowed and they will ask you to change. Your shoulders must be covered and you must have pants or shorts that go below the knee.

All bucket showers must be done with a sarong placed around you, which they will provide free of charge on day one.

They have a small store available in the cafeteria with everything that you might possibly need, such as sanitary products, first aid, toilet paper, repellent, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

It’s important to stay hydrated, so take a big water bottle that you can fill up throughout the day. There are many places on site that you can fill up your water bottle with fresh water.

Given that you will be walking many times in the night and early morning, it’s helpful to have a small flashlight or headlamp.

Also, if you are like me and need to wake up multiple times in the night to go to the restroom, this flashlight will be extra help for you. Remember, you won’t have your flashlight on your phone to get by!

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————-WHAT TO EXPECT—————

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REGISTRATION

After you pay, they will do a short one on one interview in order to get to know you better and ask about any previous experience you have had with meditation.

Shortly after you will be asked to store away all of your electronics and prepare for a group talk about the expectations of the retreat and the rules that you must follow.

CHORES

Upon arrival. you will be given a piece of paper and asked to choose a chore, which you will need to do on a daily basis during the length of the retreat.

There are different options available, from sweeping the dorms, to washing the tables after lunch, to cleaning the bathrooms. The earlier you arrive on registration day, the better your chances are of picking a chore that you enjoy.

I was assigned to sweeping the area outside of the dorm rooms and I actually enjoyed sweeping in silence each day. I turned my duty into a form of working meditation and found a lot of peace in the experience.

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MEALS

Meal time was hands down one of my favorite times. Each time that we prepared to eat, we listened to a small message from our instructor, followed by a short meditation that we had to read out loud in order to help us focus and stay grounded before and during our meal time.

All meals are 100% vegetarian and absolutely delicious! The food was very tasty and the serving sizes were large, normally allowing enough for seconds.

After about 1pm, you will be required to fast until 0800am the next day. While this might seem impossible, especially if you love to eat, you will most likely be surprised about how your hunger tends to diminish when your body gets used to skipping a few meals.

In the evening they provide some sort of drink, which might include hot tea, hot chocolate or coconut water.

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SLEEPING

I entered the mediation retreat with a collarbone that was broken in half, so my sleeping situation was quite complicated. You are asked to sleep on a concrete bed, with a hard, wooden pillow. It’s quite uncomfortable for someone without a broken bone, so just imagine in my case with my collarbone in horrible condition.

Also, if you fear bugs and spiders, you will have to suck it up. I didn’t see many entering my room in the night, but I know many others had quite some problems with that. I heard a few random screams in the night from girls (I couldn’t help but laugh), due to spiders and large bugs entering into their bed and crawling on them.

Mosquito nets are provided, so that does help to give you some protection against insects.

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DAILY SCHEDULE

0400- WAKE UP BY MONASTERY BELL

0430- MORNING READING

0445- SITTING IN SILENCE MEDITATION

0515 YOGA AND EXERCISE

0700- MEDITATION AND DHAMMA TALK

0800- BREAKFAST AND CHORES

1000- DHAMMA TALK

1100- WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1145- SITTING MEDITATION

1230- LUNCH AND CHORES

1430: SITTING MEDITATION

1530: WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1615: SITTING MEDITATION

1700: CHANTING & LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION

1800: TEA TIME & HOT SPRINGS (OPTIONAL)

1930: SITTING MEDITATION

2000: GROUP WALKING MEDITATION AROUND THE POND

2030: SITTING MEDITATION

2100: PREPARE FOR BED

2130: TIME FOR BED

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MY PERSONAL IMPUT?

DID I REALLY ENJOY IT?

My experience at Suan Mokkh was absolutely fantastic! I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to stay there and grow in the ways in which I did.

It was not easy at all for me, even though I had previous experience with a similar retreat years back. However, I left the retreat feeling very grounded and truly shaped and disciplined from the inside out.

Personal growth and development is not an easy thing. This experience brought me to tears and at times made me feel like I was going to pull my hair out.

However, the sense of satisfaction I felt to have made it to the very end was something that cannot be put into words. Many people dropped out due to the fact that it is challenging, but I worked through the pain and uncomfort and finished what I started.

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PERSONAL PREFERENCE:

SUAN MOKKH OR VIPASANNA

Both meditation retreats are unique in their own way, but if I had to choose, I would pick Suan Mokkh. What I loved about my experience there was the variety and the opportunity to practice yoga each and every morning as the sun came up.

I believe in the strong connection between the mind and body movements.  Having the chance to meditate, while exercising and walking, opened my eyes up to a whole new aspect of meditation.

In Vipassana, we were expected to sit all day, with absolutely no form of exercise. I love movement, so I was much more eager to attend a retreat which allowed me time to move freely.

Hands down one of the neatest experiences I had, which I never had at Vipassana, was the nightly group mediation around the pond. The sound of bugs filled the air as we circled barefoot in silence around the pond and the peace I felt was something that can not be put into words.

The sky was clear and filled with thousands of stars and it truly was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

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MY MAIN LESSON LEARNED

There are so many lessons that I learned from spending another 10 days of my life in complete silence. Slowing down and getting in touch with my heart and soul allowed me time to reflect on my life, blessings, relationships and to help me find a deeper sense of gratitude for this beautiful life that I have.

Being away from all materialistic possessions and distractions of the world allowed me to learn more about myself in a more intimate way and fall deeper in love with who I am.

Slowing down allowed me time to generate more love and respect for the others around me find more appreciation for nature.

I felt greatly connected with the present moment and free to release the barriers that were holding me back in the past and the fears that I had for the future. I learned, through practice, how to focus on the breath and mediate focusing strictly on that.

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HAPPY & SATISFIED GROUP AFTER 10 DAYS OF PURE SILENCE…..

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