According to our plan to explore the north of Thailand we take the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The train ride is about 13 hours and we use the time for more detailed planning. That’s how we get to know about Pa Pae Meditation Retreat. Pa Pae is a small village located between Chiang Mai and Pai and hosts a monastery surrounded by beautiful nature and landscapes. The monastery in Pa Pae offers a 3-days guided meditation retreat and the next one is planned to start in two days. We spontaneously decide to contact the organizing stuff and ask for the possibility to join. We are lucky. Only a few hours later Mali, the nice Thai woman, who organizes the place and supports the monastery and the monks concerning different things, answers and invites us to come as soon as possible. So we change the first plan for a longer visit and stay only one night in Chiang Mai. The next day we take one of the mini busses from the bus stop in direction to Pai.
Arriving at Pa Pae, Mali welcomes us warmly. The place is wonderful. There is a main building with some rooms for sleeping, the kitchen and the shared bathrooms. Additionally, five huts offer more sleeping possibility and as expected all is gender separated. Two halls, the bamboo and the moon hall, are built for meditation and some more places are under construction or planned. Everything is very lovely, with sense for detail and cleanliness and a special atmosphere is noticeable. The monastery itself is about 400m away and normally it’s just three monks living here. Actually it hosts around 25 people, because Buddhist monks from all over the world are here for a ten days stay and retreat.
Together with ten other people from different countries we start our retreat by getting an introduction from our teaching monk and experience the first guided mediation the evening we arrive. The next three days follow the same schedule: 6:30 helping the monks carrying the food they get from the village people, 7:30 am breakfast, silence time, 9:30 am first teaching and meditation session, 11 am lunch, personal and silence time, 2:30 pm next teaching and meditation session, personal and silence time, sometimes cleaning, 7:30 pm last teaching and meditation session. Although it’s really not a strict plan the more all participants come closer to each other over time the more we want to share, of course mainly by talking to each other. That’s why we need to remember silence time occasionally. But we also take the time to enjoy slowing down and concentrate on ourselves. The place and it’s surrounding in addition with the atmosphere created by the smiling and open minded Buddhist monks support our perception and mindfulness. To improve awareness in different ways we are wearing only white coloured clothes all the time. Keeping them clean is sometimes tricky.
It’s not easy to describe what happens to your mind even in just that short time of reduced information and trigger. Experiences are different and individual, but what appears identical for both of us is an increased feeling of attachment to our environment, happiness, satisfactory and has strengthened us to keep the way we already began to follow more and more.
The morning before we leave Pa Pae our teaching monk is coming for an individual conversation with us, answering different questions we are asking and explaining his point of view to things we are interested in. Finally we leave the place inspired, encouraged and grateful. Thank you!