Hey guys – I am back. Crazy things are going on right now – good and bad – but it feels like beeing totally awake and growing. If you wanna feel yourself and learn more about you, you should definitly travel some weeks on your own.
This blogpost is about my silence meditation experience, which had such a great impact on me and was an complete new experience for me.
Back home in Germany I was already loooking for a place where you can do a retreat with the Monks: do meditations, learn more about the monks life and Buddhism. Finally I ended up on the Website of Suan Mokh, where you can find some additional information about the course and I decided to go there. I think it’s famous in Thailand for the very simple life the monks have to live there and they have an extra section for international participants. The lessons were in English.
For attaining the mediation/ silence course you always need to check in the last day of the month and it starts at 4 pm. There were a lot different peoples with different attidudes about life, but all got here to learn more about themself, mediation and life in total. Meditation can also be used about changing yourself as getting free from old habits and install new ones. But more content on that later.
I was a litte bit scared about the silence. Did you ever don’t speak for one day? I didn’t do that before…Mixed feelings – excitement but I was also wondering – „Why te hell are you doing this?“ My last weeks were amazing, with much fun, great places and nice experiences and now the complete opposite – no traveling, no party and especially no talking? I decided to do it anyway. I think I was just interested in the experience and if I am able to do manage that and later on I will enough time left to travel again. Furthermore I wanted to improve my meditation and think about my next steps in life. Most of the other people came here with really big issues. They wanted to fix something or were really into Buddhism. This helps a lot to attain the course and stay into it. Some people told me they are addicted to meditation an have already attained more then 10 of this retreats.
At the arriving you have to hand them all your electronic stuff, which they lock it for you during the retreat period. No phones, cameras, computers and also no books are allowed to take with you. You shouldn’t be distracted by any stuff. When do you ever have been without a phone? It’s rare I think.
I lost mine right after the retreat on Fullmoon night at Koh Phangang, so I keep this freedom a little bit longer. Most of the time we are so addicted by our stuff that it seems like the stuff owns us and not the other way round. Are you possed by your stuff or you posses it? For me it’s not that easy to let go and of course I am a little bit mad about my stupidness, but life is learning process and life is movement. To „let go“ is one important thing in life., which we had to a lot in the retreat. One Buddhist principle is that everything is just borrowed. Even your own body. When we die, we give it back to nature and will be eaten by worms and other insects.
After you gave all your electronic devices away, you get the key for your room and can bring all your other stuff (mainly clothes) in there. The room is really tiny. I think it was 2 x 3 meters. You have a wooden bed with even a wooden pillow and the window got screen bars as they have in jail. With the wooden pillow you could just sleep on your back, because there was just a small whole for your back head cut in. In jail I think they have muchmore convenient rooms. It felt really weird to sleep on the wooden pillow at the 1st night, but then I got used to it and now I am almost missing it (… just kidding). I had lot of crazy dreams and I could remember all of them, maybe the sleep on the wooden bench and pillow isn’t that deep.
At the beginning everyone didn’t talk until we find out that we the silence vow haven’t started with our check in. So we had some time to talk to each other. We had so many good talks – all the people were really exciting peoples. I was one of the youngest. There were also a lot of people over fourty which I didn’t expect.
At night with the 1st meditation session the silence started and I got some tears in my eyes. I haven’t been really sad, but overwhelming. It was just happening and I let go. It’s strange to let go your voice for some days. We have so many great things in life that we take for granted. If you are having a bad time, I guess you should start with appreciating everything what you’ve got. We went to bad right afterwards at 9 pm and light was turned off something around 9:15. Most of the time I didn’t know what time and date is it. It’s a strange but great feeling and it is really important to become consiousness. Time and locality are just man made and we need it for communication. It sounds weird but think about it. Later on, I will recommend you two books were you can get more information.
Suan Mokh life
Suan Mokh life always started at 4 am with a big bell. You should get up fast and get prepared for the 1st meditation session at 4:30 am. You just have time to take a shower and clean your teeth. After the 1st meditations session (1 hour) we went straight to another hall were we did Thai Chi and Yoga.
Afterwards we continued with another session of sitting mediation. It was hard at the beginning to stay in the yoga meditation position. I alyways had to move and adjust or even had to stand up and continued with the standing meditation. Afterwards we had breakfast – our 1st meal. It was a really plain meal but didn’t taste too bad. I think it was some rice with a little bit of vegetables and you could also take some bananas and grab a tea. Fair enough!
Then we had some free time – I think it was one and a half hour – not so much time. The freetime you could always use to relax and enjoy yourself, take a shower or walk around – talking with other people wasn’t an option. I think most of the people sticked to that rule. I just saw too people talking a little bit with each other. This was strictly forbidden and if the people from the retreat would have find out, they had to leave. At 10 am we continued with meditation an the Dhamma Talk. Dhamma stands for ethic and moral issues.
After 2,5 hours of meditation, sitting, walking and standing we had lunch at 12:30 our second and last meal. All the straight rules should help us to clear our mind. Afterwards we had two more big sessions of meditation, until night. The highlight was the chanting session which was very useful, because during singing you could check, that your voice is still there. Without this session it would have been much more difficult. The last meditation session was also very nice, we always did at least a 30 minute walking meditation around a lake. The men followed one monk and the women a female monk. Sometimes we stopped and just stand for some minutes with closed eyes or looked up into the sky, watch the stars, the moon and the clouds.
We were also instructed to don’t use toilet paper to enter nature and simple life. If anybody in this world would use toilet paper there probably wouldn’t be anymore trees … For taking a shower we just used some buckets. Wasn’t too bad.
Most of people were really kind and took good care of each other. Everyone tried to stay mindfully and do every step consiously. Some people didn’t look at you, they tried to focus so hard and they also used their freetime for more mediation. That would have been too much for me but they practised the „noble silence.“
I used my freetime to work out or sleep. It would have been much better to don’t sleep and get used to less sleep and follow Arndold Schwarzeneggers Mantra „sleep faster“ – but it felt so weird doing mediation and being tired. Sometimes I fell asleep during sitting and standing meditation, but I always woke up when my neck was losing the tension. I tried to work out as much as possible. The Yoga and Thai Chi was awesome but I was so keen on working out all the time. Sudpol is such a great teacher and I’ve learned so many new things which I can integrate into my teachings. Actually, you weren’t allowed to workout by yourself , so I had to do it my „jail“ room where it was really hot. I did a lot of Bodyweight excercises like Pistol Squats, Push Ups variations, Handstands and I also brought my wooden rings for some pulling excercises which gymnast usually use. My spine got much better and the handstand improved a lot. I gained a lot more flexibilty in my upper spine and chest area due to the fact that I stretched a lot and also because of keeping the upright position in the spine during the sitting, standing and walking meditation. All together I had around 3 to 4 hours of training a day. 1,5 with instructions and then most of the time 30 minute sessions in my free time. It helped me a lot to feel good and keep the silence and do the meditation sessions with more concentration. I am so glad about the new input that will help me to serve my clients even more better.
Meditation / Insights / Buddhism
Being quiet wasn’t that difficult as expected, but of course it felt great to speak again!
The meditation wasn’t always easy. I did already some meditations sessions back home, but it is completely different if you have to do it for a long period. Sometimes almost 3 hours. Furthermore, back home I also used music or real instruction by real people or CDs. In Suan Mokh we were most of time just breathing. Some sessions we had input, but most of the time we were just meditating. Sometimes my meditations were really good and sometimes I really sucked. My best sessions have been at day 3 and 4. For me it’s easier to do it by myself or with less people. I think alltogehter we were around 100 people.
There a lot of different ways to meditate and you can use it for different issues.
We did the breathing with mindfulness, stayed calm and reckoned what’s happing inside us. We are so controlled by the outer world that we don’t know anymore to be really consiousness.
You can start with 3 ways of breathing. Try to differ the lengths of your breathings. The long breath usually calms you more down. But it differs. We can stay a long time without food, less without water, but just some few minutes without breathing. If you learn to breath better you will have much more energy and also help your body to get clean from all kinds of intoxications.
Try to take long breaths, slow breaths and also something between for the beginning and just be aware and try to sense the differences.
Try to use your chest movement fro the long, intense breaht and also try to do calm breathing where just your abdomen is moving and again feel the difference.
Another fact is, that we always attached by our Ego. We should try to free ourself from all I’s and my’s. I am like that, this is my life, my car, my house etc. is in Buddhist religion a sign for attachment. If you wann become free, you have to let go. Everything is just borrowed, even our own body. When we die, we have to give it back to the nature. It’s not an easy thing to clear your mind from that ego identification. We tried to let go all our thoughts and just stay in the present moment. We can’t change the past and the present is created always by the present. There is nothing about goals, but most of the time we are attached to them.
I hope it’s not getting to difficult for you. Some approaches I really like, but others I am still thinking about it. We were taught to don’t think about it and just feel the true in our hearts.
Sometimes I got some moments were I have been totally conscious without any thought. I just stayed in the present moment. It felt really good, but more than 20 minutes it wasn’t possible for me. This state is really difficult to stay in it. It’s the 100% flow and it feels incredible good. I already had some moments like that on my way over the Alps, in some soccer matches or at my crossfit competition, at the work with my clients and some other activities. I am really looking forward to can get there when ever I want. You don’t think anymore: you act, you talk, but there is no thinking process before it. This is an amazing state for working or enjoying yourself. It will raise your productivity to an phenomenal new level. There are no more worries about the past and the future.
Positive / negative feelings
If you wanna free yourself from attachment by the Buddhist way you need to free yourself also from positive. They are alawys existing both feelings (Yin-Yang approach). There is always good in the bad and the other way round. The Buddhist can still have feelings but the real Buddha don’t get attached to it. This approach I don’t really understand. I like excitement and to feel life intensivly. The monk told me that this is dangerous, because with excitement, a very intense feeling there can be always the opposite like danger or accident. I don’t really trust this approach.
Some routines/ habits which could be useful to integrate
- 1 day a week off – no electricity and no work (phones, computer)
- 1 day a month no talking just yoga and meditation
- 30 minutes a day with meditation practice
- 30 minutes of yoga/ Thai Chi to prepare your body
If you wanna calm down and improve your awareness you can also start with that book:Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. When I am back home I will teach my people some ways of meditation which they’ll can use for their daily life.
In this book meditation is used to change your life in any way you like. I am reading it right now and there are interesting approaches from the Quantum Physics. Ein neues Ich: Wie Sie Ihre gewohnte Persönlichkeit in vier Wochen wandeln können – Dr.Joe Dispenza
We also had some friends at the monastery which we tried to treat with loving kindness (most of the time). Sometimes people got really mad of all the mosquitos and ants. During the walking meditation a lot of ants jumped on us and bit us. Staying mindfully and in peace gets difficult with a lot of mosquitos and ants are biting you. I didn’t wear shoes and didn’t use any mosquito spray to prevent myself.
But the real dangerous animals that shared the Suan Mokh life with us were cobras, different kinds of scorpions and one very poisining wurm. I think some got stung by a scorpion in the morning, because at day 3 we were told to use shoes and carry a flashlight in the darkness.
I usually don’t skip things I planned, but after day 6 it was just enough for me. I calmed down completely and learnd a lot. The most difficult thing is to integrate the meditation and the mindfulness on your daily life. That’s what I have to work on right now. I am thinking about 30 minutes of meditation each day. This will be a complete game changer in getting more conscious, focused and relaxed.
On day 7 I left the monastary in morning and went on a ship to Koh Phangan, where I just found out, that it’s Fullmoonparty tonight. It’s a strange thing to went from th monks right away into the biggest party I’ve ever been. Just remember If you will ever attain one. Don’t bring anything with you except some money.
If you have any questions or wanna learn more about meditation, just write me an email or leave a comment. I don’t agree to all that approaches but I really like to see life from different angles and this will expand my way of living.
But one thing for sure – if you wanna change, develop it always starts with you from the inside out, so start with yourself: Your beliefs, your habits and especially stay open to different ways of life. There are always ways!
All the best,
Andreas Sylvester Ullrich