Wednesday, September 27, 2017

10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat at Suan Mokkh - Part 3

Wat Suan Mokkh International Dhamma Hermitage

In this post I will share with you what you will expect during the registration day.

1. Transport to the retreat location
As early as 7 am there is a pick up truck that will bring you and your luggage from the Suan Mokkh Monastery to the International Dharma Hermitage.  You just have to pay THB 20 for the service. It's about 1.5 km distance and if you choose to walk there, it will take you about 20 minutes to reach.

The two information board for women and men - International Dhamma Hermitage

2. Registration - Read and think before decide to join
Upon reaching the place, a volunteer will welcome you. She or he will ask you to read the info pasted on the board. Once finished, collect the booklet and a form from her. Read it first all the terms and conditions regarding the retreat. When you finally decide to join, only then you fill the form up.

To note: Most of the instruction is done in writing since we are going through the silence retreat. And they have notice board with different information updated everyday.

3. Interview 
Someone will interview you afterwards and if you have any question, you can ask them.

4. Pay registration fee
When interview done, proceed to pay the registration fee of THB 2,000 (SGD 82) and exchange your passport with a room key from the staff.

Ladies bathing area inside dormitories :)

5. Borrow necessary stuffs
You can borrow sarong (for women) used for taking bath and dipping inside hot spring, and also plastic water bottle to store your drinking water, for free.

6. Deposit your stuffs
Get ready all your stuffs that are required to be deposited such as: any electronics and things that can create disturbance to your peaceful mind (mobile phone, camera, tablet, laptop, mp3 device, books, diary, alarm clock, watch, etc.), money and valuable stuffs (accessories), etc.

To note: It's not necessary to deposit your stuff immediately. If you still want to use your mobile phone, you can store your stuffs afterwards, as long before 3pm. There is mobile charging point available at the area.

Emergency contact (Source: Suan Mokkh IDH)

7. Tell your family the emergency contact
You may want to inform your family back home the monastery's email address, fax number, and website address, and tell them to mention your name and room number in case there is any emergency news that required you to know since there will be no way to contact the outer world throughout the retreat period.

Space provided outside our room to hang dry the mosquitoes net, blanket, sarong, clothes, etc.

8. Go to room (dormitory)
With your key, proceed to your room. Women and men live at separate dormitory, located side by side. Collect the blanket and mosquitoes net from the room mentioned. It's advisable to dry them out under the sun before using. If you want, you can also hang the straw mat before using to kill the germs.

The meditation hall 5 where we gather most :)

9. Collect stuffs used for meditation and 'chope' your seat with it
Go to Meditation Hall 1 and take the cushion, pillow, and wooden chair and choose your seating location at the Meditation Hall 5. Put those stuff above the 2 base layer provided. It will be your fixing seat throughout the 10 days. Again, men and women is divided into two sections (left and right).

10. Select your chore (daily work duty)
Don't forget to go back to registration area (or it's better you do so before getting into your room), to select the chore. There is list of chore available for both men and women, also the details of how to do it, when, where, using which equipments and cleaning materials, etc.

For example: washing toilet at dormitories, at meditation hall, sweep floor outside dormitory, burn the rubbish, clean the foot bath, wipe table after breakfast/ lunch/ tea break, etc. Everyone has to choose at least one. I chose the simplest one though :P

Dining room :)

11. Wash your own utensils after dining 
Breakfast (8 am), lunch (12.30 pm), and tea (6 pm) are available on registration day. Men and women are seated separately. The food was divided into 2 sections, put in between the eating tables and chairs.

You have to wash the bowl, spoon, and cup (all made of stainless steel) yourself at the back of the dining area. There is instruction in writing on how to wash your utensils properly. They apply the water saving way so we won't wash it in running water. Instead, after throwing the rubbish inside the bin provided, we took little water to scrap the dirt from the bowl, move to next sink to apply soap using sponge, and rinse twice at next two sinks beside it. We then put it upside down at the shelf next to it and let it dry naturally.

Metal lantern provided :)

12. Provision shop is available
If you forget or do not have enough stock of toiletries (soap, shampoo, tooth brush, tooth paste, body powder, face soap, etc.), washing powder, mosquitoes repellant spray, mosquitoes balm (applied after being bitten), candles and matchstick (they provide metal lantern in each room to lighten your road at night), notebook to record the lesson, even shirts and pants (the recommended fisherman pants are available), do not worry. There is a small shop available at dining area. Take note on the opening time though as it is not open everyday. Only during registration day, day 1, 2, 3, and 6, and only at certain timing (not whole day).

Schedule on Registration Day (Source: Suan Mokkh IDH)

You can take a nap, stroll around the area, go to Chaiya or nearby place, or have chit chat with other fellow participants (while the silence has not yet begun), before the retreat is started. Follow the timetable above, take note of the time and place of each activity. Map is available at the board or just follow where people go :)

The natural hot spring for women :)

At 4 pm the retreat is officially started. They bring you around (orientation/ boundary tour) afterwards. After tea, you can try the hot spring. I was surprised with it!!! It's so natural!!! Was exciting with it!! ;)

At 7 pm we finally started to get serious. Soon, the silence retreat was officially started. Insects and mosquitoes sound were the only accompany afterwards. Will share with you how I felt in next post!!! ^^ Stay tune!!! ;)

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