Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and more than 90 percent of Thai citizens are Buddhists. Meanwhile, meditation is one of the most important aspects of Buddhism, and seeking inner
peace through meditation is a growing, global phenomenon. There is an understanding around the world that meditation plays a role in sustaining a healthy lifestyle, with the practitioner seeking some degree of detachment from the material world, and drawing on inner peace for a sense of well-being.
Meditation is a safe way of balancing one’s physical, emotional, and mental states. Today, physicians recommend meditation as a way of relaxing from the stress of everyday life. It can help to lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia, help asthmatic patients breath more easily, and improving exercise performance in those suffering from angina.
In the past few years, Chiang Mai has attracted visitors from all over the world who wish to learn more about meditation. The many students of meditation range from expatriate residents to tourists, they all come expressly to discover the secret of the peaceful, meditative Buddhist lifestyle.
In their different ways, all tend to see Buddhist philosophy and meditation as a means of attaining good mental and physical health, personal fulfilment and satisfaction.
Apart from being ideal, purpose-built surroundings for the practice of meditation, Buddhist temples are the best environment in which to appreciate Thai art and architecture. Their style varies according to their location and their history.
In Chiang Mai, Wat Ram Poeng (Tapotaram) temple is a well-known place to learn and practice meditation. Situated at the foothill of Doi Suthep, this temple and retreat center is surrounded
by nature and green landscape. Thai people and foreigners come there to find fulfilment through dhamma practice. To make it to Wat Ram Poeng, a red mini bus can drive you there, it is
only ten minutes from Nimmahhaemin area. From there on, you will leave the real world behind and go for a ten days of inner peace and healthy life for your mind, body and spirit. Make sure you reserve your meditation retreat first and arrive on a Sunday, as courses in English start every Monday and lasts ten to twenty six days.
The plan at Wat Ram Poeng (Topataram) temple and Meditation Center, is that during your stay there you will be able to obtain mind cleared of worries and a feeling of calmness. The temple
and meditation center is located on a 6-acre grounds, and the central stupa dates back to the founding of the temple in 1492. One of the latest building construction serves as the Trip tika Library, it contains collections of the “Three Baskets” of the Theravadan scriptures in Thai, English, Sanskrit, Sri Lankan, Burmese, Mon, Korean, and Chinese languages.
During the retreat in the monastery, you are encouraged to try to practice 10 hours a day, and you get to go deep inside yourself - to observe, be conscious of your thoughts and be honest with yourself. The day begins at 4:00 am and spreads out with meditation and basic activities that ends with bedtime at 9:00 pm. Wat Ram Poeng (Topataram) temple teaches intensive Vipassana meditation based on the Four Fondations of Mindfulness. Sayadaw techniques are used. Apart from the usual sleeping, walking and eating, each day is fill with dhamma teachings, indoor sitting meditation, yoga and outdoor walking meditation. This schedule, which might seems simple and easy, actually requires a lot of self-discipline and inner peace, because “loving kindness” or “metta” requires more than just sitting on a cushion and wishing others well... And you might be surprise by how tired you can be when night comes!