“Do you know what this place is?” a lady, who I later learn is named Kai, asks me.
“Yes, yes I do” I grin.
“And you’re sure you want to stay here?”
“If I can, yes, I would.”
I follow Kai to the first building, where I would check in to the center. Judging by the looks I was receiving from the other residents, I am assuming that the Daen Maha Meditation Center does not get a lot of foreign, white-faced visitors very often.
With Kai as my translator, I met with the head of the meditation center. After agreeing to the 8 precepts of Buddhism (which as as followed: no lying, no stealing, no makeup, no gossip, no killing any creatures, no alcohol or drugs, no sexual conduct, and no eating after noon), she gave me my new wardrobe, which was a white robe, and sent me to the shower.
After I settled in, Kai showed us around the center, while teaching us how to do walking meditation.
“You do walking meditation to be one with your body. Everything you do you focus on and you become aware of yourself and your surroundings. You feel the ground with every step you take. It’s hard, and it is sometimes warm. But you become aware of yourself through this.”
After our walking meditation lesson, it was time for the afternoon chanting service. When I walked into the area where they do the chanting, my mind was blown away. Green marble floors reflected the many green columns holding up the roof; everything was spotless. On one wall, a giant Buddha is erected, maybe 50 feet tall. There are really no words to describe how small and simple a statue can make you feel. The Buddha was painted in gold, with big, pink flowers hanging around the edge of it. It was so beautiful. I was instantly humbled.
Because Haley and I don’t speak Thai, the main teacher didn’t want us to get bored during the hour long chant, so she sent us with an English translator to go meditate on our own. Our translator took us to another building; this one constructed of an even more intriquite Buddha statue, this one had a mosaic of glass tile built into it.
I learned how to do sitting meditation, by focusing on the path of air going in and out of my body. Once I controlled that, I could move on to other areas to focus on. If I had pain or if my feet went numb, I should concentrate on that. Then I could move on to focusing on specific thoughts, such as missing my father, missing my mother, missing a friend, etc. Focus on one thought at a time and then move on to another thought.
It was really cool.
After meditation I visited the Buddha Tree. One is suppose to walk around the Tree 3 times, focusing on a wish or your prayers to the Buddha. After the 3rd go-around, you poor a cup of water down a bamboo trunk into the tree’s roots.
Bed time was 9 o clock. I slept with nothing more than a blanket; everyone sleeps in rows on the marble floor (you are not to sleep higher than the ground). It was cold at night, but I slept just fine.
The bell woke us up at 3:30. In between showering and getting ready for the day ahead, the ladies are allowed to have coffee or tea. 4 o clock is the start of morning chanting.
We had to leave early in order to catch our train. Walking away from the center, listening to the echoing of the chanting, I felt refreshed.
Before I left Kai told me her goal is to try and meditate at least 5 minutes a day when she returned home from the center. I think I might try that too.