When I read the Dan Harris 10% Happier I got curious about meditation and especially the silence retreats you can join. As the name has it, you go on a retreat where you are not allowed to speak, at any time for as long as the retreat lasts.
These activities are quite popular in Chiang Mai and I couldn’t find a five days retreat when I started sending emails a month in advance. What I did find was the two days at the Monk Chat MCU Chiangmai.
A full program is twenty-six days, a medium one is ten days, two days is really just an introduction to the practise of meditation but a very pleasant one.
We were around twenty people, dressed in white, who had to follow the monk’s instruction to exercise the mind to be present via walking, sitting and standing meditation- not easy if you are new to it.
We had to sleep in a basic room, get up at 5am, and be in silence all the time. Which I was fine with. The hardest part for me was not falling asleep, especially when we had to practise on our own and I was feeling very tired.
We chanted before each meal and chanted again to thank Buddha, we sat in circle for the Monk chat which is the ask me anything hour (loved it!).
As you are not allowed to talk you cannot really make friends but it is easy to (respectfully) fantasise over others people reasons for being there.
We were forced into a slow motion frame and shared a few hours of seating together meditating, a lot of energy got released though we left without knowing each others names.