If you need to get back in balance, need a bit time for yourself and to switch off this is the place for you.
by Ane du Preez
Watch the video for a short overview what its really about.
They welcomed me with open arms with a greeting “Welcome home”. I will never forget those kind words and they do remember me even the dog that bit me last time remembered me. A lot has changed in two years; they can accommodate more volunteers now but I still think they try to keep the it small, more dogs, more boats, there is even a café just the other side of the bridge where you can enjoy an iced tea or coffee whichever you prefer but one thing that didn’t change was their genuine kindness.
Also I attended a ceremony here which was focused on “Songkran” which was is the Thai new year. This was a ceremony that took place over the Thai New year “Songkran” and its also the most significant. The ceremony involves water being poured over the hands of the elderly to show respect and they will bless you. Such a deep meaning that is for sure.
Usually there are more volunteers but I guess because of the global situation that we all are facing at the moment its not really possible so this time we were only two volunteers nevertheless it was still every second worth it. I think people volunteer for different reasons but to volunteer you have to do it for the right reasons. Here are a few reasons I think why volunteering is good for you:
- Volunteering is good for you. Studies show that volunteering releases tension. By helping others in need, you take the focus off of your own problems, putting into perspective how precious having a healthy, fulfilled life really is.
- Volunteering can help you get or stay healthy. It’s true! Health is not just the food you eat or the exercise that you do on a regular basis. Its all about balance, its how you spend your time, who you spend time with and so much more.
- Volunteering creates empowerment.
- Doing ‘good’ is important. Sometimes we switch on the news or we talk to toxic people and sometimes there are just too much negativity going on so doing something nice for others or help others its important.
- Volunteering looks good on your resume but also it creates opportunities for self growth, for learning. There are endless possibilities. I had the opportunity to teach English to a 9 year old boy and one of the “bhikkhuni’s” , nothing formal just conversations and it felt so good. It was a memorable moment.
And you don’t have to go to a mediation volunteer it can be as simple as help an elderly person to carry her shopping bags or help a child to read or even pay for someone’s coffee, just be kind and pay it forward, it will always come back to you. If you do good to others good things will happen to you and if you do not so nice things to others bad things will happen. The universe never sleeps, just remember that.
You can be a hero too. This video made me cry but it just shows you that simple things matters.
This was one of the best experiences ever and I will recommend it to you anyone.
The idea is to learn more about Thai culture, learn and live like Thai people and also learn more about Buddhism. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to go there but I would advise to read about a little bit about Buddhism beforehand. If you are looking just for cheap accommodation this is not the place for you, please be respectful.
The place is owned by Punya Panya who is Thai but lived 49 years in USA where she used to a doctor and then decided to return to her homeland to create a peaceful paradise for others to come and learn.
The name called “Dhutanga”Dhutanga is a monastic austerity practice to help remove defilements of the mind, one of which is attachment to things.
I can’t quite put it in exact words what a magical it was to wake up to the sounds of nature instead of traffic. I love the sounds of nature and sometimes we are so rushed to finish our deadlines, finish the one task after the other or spend time with everyone else but ourselves so make time for you even if you just take few minutes every day just to do something nice for yourself and that makes you happy.
My day started with a 5am chanting and meditation. After that we go with the bhikkunis (female monks) to the Bintabaht. Thai word ‘bintabaht‘, but essentially it refers to the collection of alms, including food for the morning meal of Buddhist monks each morning.
So estimate schedule is as follows:
5:00 – 6:00 (chanting and meditation)
6:15 – 7:00 (bintabaht)
7:00 – 8:00 breakfast
8:00-10:00 (chores around the property, this can be anything from cleaning, gardening, painting, anything they need help with)
11:00 – prepare lunch for the bhikkunis
11:30 – lunch
12:00 – 17:00- free time unless they ask you to help with something
5pm – feed the dogs
6:30 – 7:30 – evening chanting and meditation
What exactly is meditation?
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Meditation means different things to different to people but to me it means prayer to the universe and set your intention for the day and also a time where your body, mind and spirit connects.
After mediation in the evenings, Punya would give Dhamma talks and that was really interesting and an amazing experience to actually talk and ask questions about Buddhism. She is a very wise bhikkhuni with the kindest heart.
What to bring:
- Reusable water bottle
- Hat & sunblock
- Casual/old clothes (nothing too tight, too short, just dress appropriately)
- Phone and charger (try not to use it too often, you need to detox too)
- Little bit of cash
- Toiletries & towel
- No need for bedding *they do provide that)
- Book and journal or something to keep you busy during your free time.
- Positive attitude and mindset
How to get there:
- depending how to travel but easiest is to get the airlink from phaya thai – lat krabang
- Lat Krabang – taxi to the meditation center (this will take about 20 minutes). You can use the ‘grab’ app or alternatively the meter taxi’s.
- Adress: Sisa Chorakhe Noi, Bang Sao Thong District, Samut Prakan 10540
How much does it cost?
Its donation based so roughly you can work out at an estimate of 100 baht per day and by the end of your stay you’ll put it into a donation box. This is just to cover for electricity and the food.
I only ate twice a day like them and after 12 you can drink but no eating. You get used to it, and I am glad I did it.
I did struggle with meditation the first two days or so but it just takes practice. When my mind wonders off I usually try to focus or listen to the sounds. There was one evening that I struggled a bit to focus so then I focused on my surroundings / sounds and I heard the ripples of the water drops, I heard the dogs barking, my own breath, the gentle breeze and it helped.
My mind is usually quite active and feels at times its all over the place, but meditation is really powerful and I can feel the difference from when I’ve just arrived at the meditation and when I’ve left. Of course I would have stayed longer if it was possible but my holidays are a little limited.
The property is not that big even though it developed a lot in two years time. It was truly a magical place to be able to meditate with the bhikkhuni’s, learn more about Thai culture and the way of living and be in nature – we all need this reconnection from time to time.
Also two years ago we were given a project and it felt amazing to be part of it and unfortunately I had to leave so I couldn’t see the final result but I came back for it and it was a pretty incredible feeling seeing my name of the wall and knew I was part of that.
Its such a peaceful place and a great way to learn, to reflect and give back to the community. It was such an incredible and enriching experience and definitely one the best.
I am not sure when I will go back but hopefully in the future.
My final thoughts:
Thank you for sharing your kindness, love and knowledge. You’ve touched my heart and soul. One thing I have learned is there is beauty in every day and there is always something to be grateful for.
Till next time. If you need any details of this meditation center feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.
Hi there! My name is Ané du Preez and I am from South-Africa but currently teach and live in Thailand. I am a writer and a solo traveler. I love learning about other cultures and traditions. My interest started when I was only a child and my grandparents shared their travel stories through pictures, stories, and writing. This blog is to share my wonderful adventures with all of you. I’ve been discovering the gems of mother nature and its amazing people. Join me as we venture into the beauty and inspiration that is all around us. I am an advocate for all to live their life to the fullest. To travel is to live!