I spent a total of 30 days at Wat Ram Peong, a temple a few kilometers outside of the west gate of the old city in Chiang Mai. This is about my 5th meditation retreat experience and my 6th temple to try one at. I gotta say Ram Peong is the most intense meditation retreat I’ve ever done. They take your phone (common, but not always practiced), but the really hard thing is how many hours they ask of you. From day one they are asking for 6 hours of meditation. This is a difficult number for anybody, especially for new practitioners coming here to learn meditation for the first time. It is terribly daunting I’d say (it appears that at least one person drops out after 2-3 days every new 10-day installment). Then they continue to ask for more hours each day until you’re doing 12-14 hours a day.
Now there is good reason for doing this as they explained to me when I asked. Meditation is when we are being most mindful. It is like training for anything and here you are training your mind to be aware and alert. Every moment we are not meditating (walking around the monastery, eating, talking, thinking) we are being less mindful than when we are meditating. So the Abbot here asks practitioners to meditate nearly every waking moment to train the mind to be mindful. After practicing this for a long enough time (maybe a year or longer – I don’t know), you can become just as mindful outside of specific meditation times as during them. You basically begin to meditate every moment of awakeness – this is one of the goals at any rate. I have not reached this level, nor have I been committed enough to attain such a level. But this is why they ask for so many hours and surely this is working for some people. I don’t think this is the best route for me however.
With all of that being said, Wat Ramp Peong is one of my favorite places to meditate. It is a very beautiful campus with many lovely places to meditate inside and outside. The temple started 527 years ago (2019) and the stoopa here is as old as that, being the first structure built at the start of the temple. There are 2 very nice temples and 1 very old library to meditate in. There is a newly constructed basement to the library that has, the ever so nice, air conditioning 😀 On those scorching afternoons it is so nice to take 2 hours of meditation in the coolness of that room.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay here. I found it worthwhile and learned a bunch about myself. I’d recommend it to newbies and experienced meditators alike, but just know what is expected of you here and be ready to meditate 🙂