Before I went to the meditation centre I was really worried about only having two meals a day and to a lesser extent giving up my nightly breath of fresh air. Luckily, after a first difficult day, I got used to the rhythm of the day there and was able to not eat after noon.
The real challenge was the amount of time to meditate. As you can see from the timetable we had roughly 7.5 hours a day to individually meditate. This is a long time even if it is in chunks of several hours each. So I would change location during the day. The little temple above was where I would practice post lunch. Only one other person used it while I was there so it was a good place to practice. That and I found it very restful.
There was another room with several long carpets for you to practice walking meditation that would be my morning spot. In the evenings we would chant which brought me back to my catholic up bringing. Sanskrit is alot more complicated than Latin however. Nonetheless it was one of the parts of the day that I most enjoyed. The other was the 5.30am dhamma talk given by the monk. This talk would be about how to approach life and the monk would regularly remind us not to be consumed with dislike of others. In the seclusion of the centre, with no communication between novices, this reminder seemed unnecessary. But now back in the world where people let you down it is a good reminder. The monk was very funny and would tell us funny stories to illustrate the Buddhist values.
I actually enjoyed my time there, and extended my stay so I was there Mon-Fri. I didn’t manage the not talking part but that’s not surprising is it! On my last full day I went up to the big temple and had a walk around.
On my last night I went to the viewing spot to see over Chiang Mai. It felt very naughty to be out past bedtime but the view was incredible.
After this I went back to the old city and had two great evenings with old friends and new. I stayed in a homestay in a traditional Thai house which was a great experience. The host was super nice and on my last night we sat around eating Thai food, listening to traditional folk songs sung acapella.