Suan Mokkh: 10 Day Silent & Meditation Retreat in Thailand

When people think about traveling through South East Asia, the first thought that typically comes to mind is the idea of pristine beaches, wild parties, elephants, delicious exotic food, beautiful women, and unique temples. Many eager travelers from all across the world flock to Thailand each and every year to get a little taste of their paradise, at a price that will blow your mind!
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After an amazing month of traveling throughout Thailand, immersing myself in their 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 started to feel a strong connection to the country and their easy-going way of life.
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My whole experience couldn’t have been more epic…

However, just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, life threw a huge curveball…..

On the morning of the Full Moon Party, I woke up extra early in order to explore the island of Ko Samui by motorcycle before making my way later in the evening to the next island, Ko Phangan. My perfect day of exploring the island turned tragic in the blink of any eye when my driver suddenly lost control of our bike and sent us both flying across the highway and crashing directly into the cement.
The intense 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 and how EVERYTHING can change in just a blink of an eye.

After my accident, I was told by the doctor that I would not be able to travel for a period of time, especially the way that I was used to traveling. I was only 2 weeks into my 5 months long trip through Asia and this news was a huge shock and disappointment to me.
Instead of losing hope, I decided to find the positive in the situation and explore the few options that I could do in Thailand with a collarbone that was broken in half. After the x-ray, the doctor told me that an operation was not necessary and informed me that if I take a couple of weeks off with no movement, I could later continue traveling (later I found out that was NOT true).
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It was in a moment of desperation that I found a 10-day silent/meditation retreat called Suan Mokkh just a few hours from I was located at that time. Most retreats require pre-registration, but this one was on a first-come, first-serve basis and was only a week away from starting.
I just KNEW that this unique experience was meant to be!
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I had previously done a 10-day retreat called Vipassana in India which absolutely changed my life, but Suan Mokkh was a whole different type of experience, combining different styles of meditation (sitting, walking, group) and yoga.
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The experience seemed suitable for me in my crippled state, so without a second thought, I packed my bags and headed to Suratthani Thailand to embark on an adventure that would continue to test my human limits and force me mentally to the next level.
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My mind was a crazy, uncontrolled disaster upon entering into Suan Mokkh.

I felt wild and untamable…..

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All of my thoughts were going in different directions. I spent hours a day worrying about my previous collarbone injury, wondering how I would manage to stay in Thailand with my situation, and not to forget to mention, the INTENSE pain I was experiencing because of this.
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As if that were not enough, I felt an additional overwhelming sense of stress related to work assignments, social media, and collaborations that I was completely behind on. As much as I was excited to take on a new challenge, I felt totally incapable of disconnected from the world and entering into a totally silent world, with no electronics for 10 whole days!  

WHAT IS SUAN MOKKH? 

 
Suan Mokkh is a monastery located far 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, live, and have a powerful spiritual experience.
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As a guest, I was able to live with the monks for 10 full days, in a stress free atmosphere, surrounded by nothing more than other international mediators, monks, and the calming sound of nature all around me.
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Suan Mokkh is a magical location, that attracts more than 1000 foreigners each and every year. The experience can be a very powerful and life-changing one, but it is not easy. In fact, many of the mediators never actually make it to the end to experience the sense of satisfaction you can feel from disconnecting with the world and reconnecting without yourself for 10 full days in silence.

RULES

  • No talking or nonverbal communication for 10 full days.
  • Zero Electronics (includes: cell phone, Ipods, cameras, computers, video games, radio, etc.)
  • No personal books (you may read books that they have assigned during break time after day three).
  • 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 the evening).
  • No shoes in meditation hall, rooms, or kitchen.

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NOTE: This retreat is not for the weak-minded.

I can tell you from personal experience that it can be a total shock to the body and could 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 to have on a normal day to day basis, such as eating 3-5 meals, sleeping in a comfortable bed, sleeping in until late, freedom to talk and interact with others, are COMPLETELY monitored and restricted.

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If you keep your mind open and embrace the changes around you, it can be a transformative experience.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

 

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

Location: Suratthani, Thailand.

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

Language: All Dhamma lessons are taught ONLY in English.

It is very important to have a good level of English if you want to get the most out of the daily lessons. In fact, it’s possible that they will refuse your application if you do not speak English, due to the importance of actively listening to the teachings given each day.

Arriving: The cheapest way to get there is by bus from Suratthani.  Mention that you want to get off at Wat Suan Mokkh and the driver will lead you there for around 50 Baht  ($1.45).

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WHAT TO TAKE

 

The retreat is located far out into the woods and mosquitos are a HUGE annoyance. Mosquito nets are provided on-site, but you should load up on repellent and take socks (even if it’s hot) to serve as extra protection against them.

It’s mandatory to wear loose-fitting, non-see-through clothing. Anything that draws attention to your body, such as open shoulder shirts or short shorts are prohibited and you will quickly be advised to change your clothes.

All bucket showers must be done modesty, 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.

The heat during the day can be quite intense, so it’s important to stay hydrated. There are many places on-site that you can fill up your water bottle with fresh water, so don’t forget to pack a big bottle to carry with you at all times.

Keep in mind that you will be required to walk in the night and early morning, so carrying a headlamp or flashlight can be helpful. If you do not have one, they will provide you with a lantern.

You will not be required your phone as a flashlight like you normally do!

 

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————-WHAT TO EXPECT—————

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REGISTRATION

After making your payment, they will do a short one on one interview with you and ask you questions regarding any past mediation experience you have had. They like to get this information because you will be asked to focus solely on the techniques you learn in Suan Mokkh. They also ask that you don’t openly combine other practices that you have learned in the past, which might be a distraction others around you.

After the interview, you will be asked to store all of your electronics away and prepare for our first group talk, which will clearly indicate the rules and expectations of the retreat.

CHORES

In the registration process, you will be required to choose a chore that you will be required to do on a daily basis during the full 10 days.  There are different options available, from sweeping the dorms, 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 the task of sweeping outside the dorms multiple times a day and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed my time sweeping in silence. I turned my duty into a form of working meditation and found a lot of peace in the experience.

MEALS

Mealtime was hands down my favorite time of the day.

Before each meal, we listened to a small message from our instructor, followed by a short meditation that we were instructed to read out loud in order to ground and focus us before and during our mealtime.

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

After about 1 pm, we were required to fast until 8:00 am the next day.

While this might seem impossible for most people, especially if you have never fasted a day in your life, 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, a drink will be provided, which might include hot tea, hot chocolate, or coconut water.

SLEEPING

I entered the meditation retreat with a collarbone that was broken in half, so my sleeping situation was quite complicated.

You will be required to sleep on a concrete bed, with a hard, wooden pillow. It’s very uncomfortable for someone without a broken bone, so just imagine how it must’ve felt with a broken bone to lay on.

If you fear bugs and spiders, you will need to overcome that on day one.

While I didn’t see many creatures entering my room in the night, I know many others had awful problems with them. I heard many random screams in the night from other meditators due to spiders and large bugs entering into their bed.

As I mentioned before, mosquito nets are provided, so that does help to protect creatures from crawling inside.

 

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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DID I REALLY ENJOY MY EXPERIENCE?

My experience at Suan Mokkh was unbelievable! I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to stay there and grow in the ways in which I did. It’s an experience that I will carry in my heart for as long as I live.

It was not easy at all for me, even having had previous experience with a similar 10 day retreat year back. However, I left the retreat feeling very grounded and truly shaped from the inside out. Personal growth and development is not an easy thing. This experience made me feel like I was going to pull my hair out at times, but I truly believe in the quote:

No pain, no gain. 

The sense of satisfaction I felt making it to the end was something that cannot be put into words. Many people in my retreat dropped out early on, but I worked through the pain and discomfort and finished what I started.

I still cannot believe that I have spent 20 full days of my life in total silence!

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PERSONAL PREFERENCE: SUAN MOKKH OR VIPASANNA?

 

Both meditation retreats are unique in their own special way, but if I had to choose one, it would be Suan Mokkh.

What I loved about my experience there was the variety of meditation styles and the opportunity to practice yoga each and every morning as the sun came up. It was magical!

I believe there is a 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, incorporating absolutely no form of exercise.

I love to move my body and I find a better connection to the universe and myself with I implement yoga and walking into my meditation practice. One of the neatest experiences I had in Suan Mokkh was the nightly group waking mediation around the pond.

The sound of bugs filled the air as we circled barefoot around the pond in total silence. The peace I felt in those moments is something that can’t be put into words.

The sky was clear and filled with thousands of stars. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.

MY MAIN LESSON LEARNED

There are so many lessons that I learned from spending another 20 full days of my life in complete silence. Slowing down my pace, disconnecting and reconnecting within my heart and soul allowed me to deeply reflect on my life, blessings, and relationships.

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 meditate focusing strictly on that.

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

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