Meditation is found in one form or another in all the world's major religious traditions but it is in Buddhism that it is integral to the path to enlightenment. The practitioner trains his or her mind so that it can understand the four-points that form the core of the Buddha’s teaching: suffering, what causes it, the end of suffering, and the path to that end.
Consequently, the art of meditation is a highly developed one in Thailand. One doesn’t need to be a Buddhist, or even be interested in Buddhism, to benefit from meditation. A valuable training that can be applied to daily life, it greatly helps concentration and can lead to a state of peace and calmness, no matter where the meditation is performed.
There are two main branches in Buddhist meditation: Samatha (calmness, concentration) and Vipassana (insight), which stresses mindfulness.
The techniques of Samatha meditation are many, some of them older than Buddhism itself. Amongst the most commonly practiced in Thailand is Anapanasati, or “mindfulness with breathing”. Mantra meditation, in which given words are repeated over and over to help focus the mind, is also widely practiced. Kasinas, where mediators concentrate on an object outside themselves, such as a crystal ball and candle flame, is yet another form.
Sati, or mindfulness, is the key to Vipassana meditation. When the mind is untrained it is wide open to outside disturbances, and the objective is to be aware of what happens but not dwell upon it. So you train yourself to be aware of the body’s movement, the rise and fall of the chest as you inhale and exhale, the movement of the legs and feet as you walk, and your feelings and state of mind. Walking, sitting and lying meditation are a few of the Vipassana techniques, and to avoid distractions as far as possible the retreats are usually held in isolated and peaceful surroundings.
Meditation teachings are widely available in Thailand for Thais and visitors alike, ranging from English language day classes in Bangkok through to intensive month-long Vipassana courses at remote retreats in the provinces.
Where To Go
IMBC (International Buddhist Meditation Centre)
Vipassana Section, Mahachulalongkornrajvidyalaya University, Wat Mahathat, Tha Phrachan, Bangkok 10200
Tel: 0 2623 6326, 02866 0170
Section 5, Wat Mahathat, Tha Phrachan, Bangkok 10200
Tel: 0 2222 6011, 0 2222 4981, 0 2623 5613
Fax: 0 2222 4981, 0 2623 6474
World Fellowship of Buddhist
616 Benjasiri Park, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110
Tel: 0 2661 1284-89
Fax: 0 2661 0555
Website : www.wfb_hq.org
House of Dhamma (Vipassana) Insight Meditation Centre
26/9 Soi 15, Lat Phrao Road, Bangkok 10900
Tel: 0 2511 0439
Fax: 0 2512 6083
Young Buddhists Association of Thailand under the Royal Patronage
58/8 Mu 7 Soi Phet Kasem 48, Phet Kasem Road, Bang Duan, Pasi Charoen Bangkok 10160
Tel: 0 2805 0790-3
Fax: 0 2413 3333
Website : http://www.ybat.org/meditation/course_eng.html
Thailand Vipassana Centre
Dhamma Kamala200 Baan Nern-Pasook (Behind Thai-Rath Vitaya 7 School), Tambol Dong-Kee-Lek, Amphoe Mueang, Prachinburi 25000, Thailand.
Tel & Fax: 0 3740 3515
The Middle Way Meditation Village
2/9-10 Ratchapruek Road, Off Huai Kaew Road, Chiang Mai
Tel: 0 5340 4220 – 1, 0 1619 8708, 0 9109 9219
Thailand Vipassana Centre
138 Baan Huayplu, Tambon Kaengsopa, Amphoe Wangthong, Phitsanulok 65220, Thailand.
Tel: 0 5526 8049
Suan Mokkh Forest Monastery
68/1 Tambon Lamet, Amphoe Chaiya, Surat Thani 84110
Tel: 0 7743 1596-7
Fax: 0 7743 1597
Website : www.suanmokkh.org
Wat Khao Tham International Meditation Centre
Wat Khao Tham, Ko Pha-ngan, Surat Thani 84280
Wat Pa Nanachat
Ban Bung Wai, Amphoe Warin Chamrap, Ubon Ratchathani 34310