Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

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Sheldon Frith Nicholson, modified 4 Years ago at 11/17/17 3:27 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/17/17 3:27 PM

Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 20 Join Date: 11/26/12 Recent Posts
Hi everyone. I am going to do a 3 month retreat this winter (Jan, Feb, Mar). 

Ideally I would like to do Mahasi-style noting, but alternately I would also consider a retreat center with a focus on Jhanas.
I am willing to go basically anywhere in the world, I have saved up over $5000 for this, but I would like to avoid going to Burma if it is possible. 

I have already read through all of the recent forum topics on this subject. So I already know about
  • Panditarama Lumbini (this is my first choice, but they have not replied to me yet)
  • all the places in Burma (where I WILL apply if I cannot find anything else, but I'd like to avoid travelling to Burma if possible)
  • the Tathagata center (their schedule doesn't work for me)
  • the Dhammacari Vipassana center in Germany (I have just sent them a message)
  • the Insight Meditation Society (their schedule doesn't work for me either)
So if any of you have some recommendations which aren't on the above list please let me know! Thanks!

Sheldon
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Noah D, modified 4 Years ago at 11/17/17 8:32 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/17/17 8:32 PM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 1198 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Thailand.  Wat Suan Mokh.  I haven't been there but my teachers always bugging me to go & says I could be there (or possibly monastery hop) for an extended period of time. 
Fran Ko, modified 4 Years ago at 11/18/17 3:36 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/18/17 3:36 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 19 Join Date: 11/9/17 Recent Posts
MBMC in Penang, Malaysia - A really decent place to do some intense practice - I hear they have a special month-long retreat coming up this January with Sayadaw Pannathami, of whom I think very highly, and most definitely recommend.

There are also many excellent monasteries in and around Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, namely Wat Rampoeng, Wat Chom Thong, Doi Suthep, the list goes on. All of them very decent places to meditate. I personally spent more than a month in Wat Rampoeng, with awesome results, and highly recommend the place.

Good luck with your practice

With metta,
FranKo
neko, modified 4 Years ago at 11/18/17 5:28 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/18/17 5:28 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Be advised that Dhammacari retreats culminate with three days of all-day, all-night sitting, no sleep allowed. Some people love this, but others do not.
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Sheldon Frith Nicholson, modified 4 Years ago at 11/19/17 4:26 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/19/17 4:26 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 20 Join Date: 11/26/12 Recent Posts
Thanks, I will check out all of those. Im glad to hear there are more good options besides the many Burmese centers! Thailand is appealing... maybe I'll do a month of Muay Thai after my retreat emoticon 

As for Dhammacari three days and nights of no sleep at the end sounds fine to me since their retreats are only like 2 weeks with a max of a 4 week stay, so the extra intensity might help make up for the shorter time period in terms of results... but still I probably wont be going to Dhammacari since they replied to me and informed me about the 4 week max stay.

Still no reply from Panditarama Lumbini so I'll start applying to these other places. 
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Rednaxela, modified 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 1:10 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 1:10 PM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
all the places in Burma (where I WILL apply if I cannot find anything else, but I'd like to avoid travelling to Burma if possible):

Are you avoiding Burma because of the news headlines?

I'm not sure if that's had any impact on the Mahasi centres.

Hoping to do Panditarama in 2018/2019.
JP, modified 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 3:21 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 3:21 PM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 175 Join Date: 3/31/17 Recent Posts
Are you avoiding Burma because of the news headlines?

I'm not sure if that's had any impact on the Mahasi centres.

I'm not sure that one's safety and security while on retreat is the right thing to be focusing on when deciding whether to do a retreat in Burma at the moment.  Instead, this seems like a situation where it's worth looking at the role of Burmese Buddhism in the ongoing crackdown on the Rohingya and deciding ethically if that's something you also want to support.  In most other situations, it's easy to look at a situation where thousands of civilians are caught between an authoritarian government and separatist militants and say that while the militants are violent that still doesn't justify ethnic cleansing of the civilians by the government.  For understandable and very human reasons, it gets harder to do so when that government claims to be acting to defend Buddhism and when a retreat there could be beneficial for our practice.  But I think it's also a really good opportunity to examine the ethics of what we're willing to do to advance our practice.
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Sheldon Frith Nicholson, modified 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 9:36 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/20/17 9:36 PM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 20 Join Date: 11/26/12 Recent Posts
The news headlines are part of the reason I don't want to go to Burma. I can't say exactly why (I don't know much about the actual situation) except that I'd just prefer a simpler travel situation. Burma is also harder to get into, I have to travel accross the country to find a Burmese embassy and apply for a Visa there... whereas if I go to Nepal, Thailand, or Malaysia I can just get a tourist Visa on arrival with little hassle. 
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Rednaxela, modified 4 Years ago at 11/21/17 7:41 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 11/21/17 7:41 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for mentioning the political situation JP.  It certainly deserves some consideration.

Sheldon, I heard Nepal is nice and i believe Daniel's recommended it.  I was at MBMC in January and can report that it was incredibly easy.  $100 flight from Singapore and a short cab or bus ride from Penang airport.  
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Sheldon Frith Nicholson, modified 4 Years ago at 12/13/17 2:30 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/13/17 2:30 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 20 Join Date: 11/26/12 Recent Posts
Thanks again everyone, quick update:

So I've been accepted into Panditarama Lumbini for a month and a half starting mid February... super excited about that! 

I've applied and messaged MBMC several times, but still no response... I'm hoping to go there for a month and a half starting Jan 1 (for a combined length of 3 months). 
If I don't manage to get into MBMC within the next few weeks I'll try to go to Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha in Burma... I know I asked for retreat centres NOT in Burma, but I've decided that the quality compared to the alternatives available to me in Thailand is worth the hassle and potential risks of going to Burma... but if I don't get into Burma then I will go to Wat Ram Poeng or Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand as my last choices...

Anyways, I'm incredibly exited about finally having an opportunity to make some serious progress... but also a bit nervous that I will have to go to Thailand where I'm not sure if I will get the guidance I need right off the bat, since I'm in the Three Characteristics right now with some very intense whole-body convulsions happening with every single note I make... not fun to be around casual meditators or teachers I don't trust when trying to deal with a situation like this (anyone not familiar with the territory will probably think I have epilepsy or something)... 

Wish me luck!
Yilun Ong, modified 4 Years ago at 12/13/17 8:50 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/13/17 5:07 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 623 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Just curious, when the convulsions happen, I suppose you feel fear? And how do you deal with that or do you stop?

I'd sort out major issues before going on a retreat, the likelihood of it blowing up is real...

Good luck!

Edit: Saw your previous postings.

Whatever you think this thing is, doesn't matter. Drop noting, do "choiceless awareness". The only way to deal with it are the same teachings by the Buddha.

1. Overcome the fear, they may hit you every sit with scary physical symptoms, but there is a calmer place atop that hill. Cross that. This thing cannot harm you. Each tier of pain you overcome becomes a normal sensation the next day - this is real. You'd be proud of yourself.
2. Pain is not suffering, see that clearly. Think of it as purification if that helps. Watch your entire body especially shoulders/face and emotions, untense all tension - you will need to constantly check. SURRENDER!
3. Equanimity needs to be and will be on a totally new level. Know that the 'thing' is there but keep a wide open awareness. Watch out for aversion on/off cushion and stay neutral or positive if you can summon it. Treat everything as a sensation because they are. Do not wish for it to go away.
4. I suggest meditating in the reclining position for maximum relaxation and safety. You can't fall asleep with this thing anyhow.
5. This may take up to 3 hours the first time. Future sits ~60-90 mins. Stop only when your emotions are calm plus you have reached a place where the raptures have stopped or seemingly calmed down or became static; meditating by the old timer method wouldn't work well if you have such symptoms. Sit to clear the hurdle.

Buddhism doesn't recognize Kundalini - so I wouldn't bank on any retreat centres acknowledging anything other than asking you to do the above. And IMHO, clear this hurdle wherever you are before going to a new 'boot camp' environment where your being 'special' is likely to be more difficult.

All the best...
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Nik, modified 4 Years ago at 12/14/17 8:39 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/14/17 8:37 AM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/12/14 Recent Posts
Burma is veryyy easy to travel to and within (and I'm an anxious type of person as well). Ive been three times in the past two years and I'm actually sitting in Dawei, Myanmar right now. You can get a meditation visa in Bangkok or in KL within 1 to 3 days then take a super cheap flight into Yangon. People in Myanmar are generally quite helpful and friendly with foreigners (just put the whole genocide thing out of your mind lol--- there is no human culture on this planet that is not liable to such attrocities. You would never guess any of it was happening if you were here and not watching the news.). You can also get 3G/4G in a lot of places (a little over 1 USD per gb data), and the big tourist (VIP) buses are nicer than any ive been on (the USA, europe, thailand, and so on. Also... I think Sayadaw Vivekenanda (Panditarama Lumbini) is in Myanmar this winter (at Panditarama).
Oochdd, modified 4 Years ago at 12/14/17 5:53 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/14/17 5:53 PM

RE: Recommended retreat centers NOT IN BURMA, for 3 month retreat

Posts: 101 Join Date: 12/16/14 Recent Posts
Another option you could try is the Hermitage in guatamala. They offer super nice cabins for solo retreats. There wouldn't be a mahasi teacher on hand though, so this only would work if you feel you're established in the practice enough. (I'm going there in March/april) 

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