Buddhists consider meditation an essential step on the road to enlightenment, self-realisation and the state of Nirvana. Buddhist monks and nuns learn how to meditate on the Noble Eightfold Path to Nirvana and, as an invaluable bonus, also attain inner peace and happiness.
Although non-Buddhists rarely subscribe to the idea of Nirvana or the pain of being reincarnated, the side benefits of stress relief and being able to deal with life’s trials and tribulations have made meditation courses in Thailand popular. The meditation courses and programmes offered at a select number of temples in Chiang Mai teach novices the basic steps.
The meditation programmes at each of the recommended Chiang Mai temples varies with the ajarn (teacher) overseeing it. Novice enrolees might learn the four sides of mindfulness and begin with concentrating on breathing patterns while sitting cross-legged (nang samati) or walking slowly. The temples detailed below mostly have mentors on hand who give relevant advice on the way forward.
Meditation Courses in Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep Temple | Wat Chom Thong | Wat Ram Poeng | Wat Umong | Further Reading
*Note: Joining the meditation courses, we recommend you to check first if English courses are available.
DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST CENTRE
Doi Suthep Mountain Temple’s International Buddhist Centre offers meditation courses based on the great Mahasi Sayadaw’s teachings. These focus on the four tenets of mindfulness. People taking meditation courses at the centre have daily meetings with advisors and are given instructions which suit their individual needs. Courses here require practitioners to get up at 05:00, take part in Dhamma talks and join in chanting sessions as well as meditate at set times. Course options are two-week novice, three-week foundation and 13-day advanced revision. There is no course fee, but donations are recommended.
Doi Suthep Temple International Buddhist Centre: – T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 502030 | Open: 08:30-16:30 (Daily) | Courses: 13 Days / 14 Days / 21 Days | Tel: +66 53 295 012 | Website | E-mail | Map
WAT RAM POENG
Wat Ram Poeng provides insight (vipassana) meditation courses which concentrate on mindfulness training and self awareness. The basic course is 26 days long. Mentors monitor and advise novice meditators. Those who complete the intro course have the option of taking an additional 10-day retreat. The temple’s website has full details of the offerings needed at the start of courses and the white clothing meditators are required to wear. This temple is at the foot of Suthep Mountain.
Wat Ram Poeng: #1, M. 5, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 07:00-17:00 (Daily) | Courses: 10 Days, 26 Days | Tel: +66 53 278 620 | Fax: +66 53 810 197 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
Wat Umong is another temple and meditation centre and is less than one kilometre from Wat Ram Poeng. Like its near neighbour, Wat Umong enjoys a shaded forest location and fresh country air. Meditation courses at Wat Umong follow the anapanasati mindfulness of breathing format. The teachers here have limited English-language skills and recommend novice meditators learn basic Thai beforehand or bring a phrasebook. English sessions are held on Sunday afternoons.
Wat Umong: #135, M. 10, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Ching Mai 50200 | Open: 06:00-17:00 (Daily) | Sessions: Dhamma Talks every Sunday afternoons | Tel: +66 53 810 965, +66 85 033 3809 | Website | E-mail | Map
WAT CHOM THONG
A Royal Historic Temple and home of a Lord Buddha relic, Wat Chom Thong is 60kms to the south of Chiang Mai. The abbot here, Ajarn Tong, is rated as Thailand’s guru of vipassana meditation. This temple has an international meditation section which is overseen by husband and wife team Thanat and Kate Chindaporn. The courses here stress mindfulness and building momentary concentration while walking and sitting.
Wat Chom Thong: #T. Ban Liang, A. Chom Thong, Chiang Mai 50160 | Open: 06:00-17:00 (Daily) | Courses: 10 Days / 21 Days / 30 Days | Tel: +66 53 342 184-6 | Fax: +66 553 342 187 | Website | Facebook | Map