We constantly get bombarded with social media, work and family matters on a daily basis that we rarely have time to destress, self-reflect and easily get burned out. Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress and regain focus.
Living in Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country that has hundreds of monasteries, nunneries and meditation centers, we are naturally exposed to meditation—one of the practices Buddhist monks use as a path towards enlightenment.
But mindfulness meditation is not only for the Buddhists nor is it only to reach enlightenment. You can easily enroll at a meditation center in Yangon despite your religious beliefs or lack thereof.
I joined a 10-day meditation course at Dhamma Joti Meditation Center in Yangon curious about the benefits of mindfulness meditation.
What is it like to join a 10-day meditation course where:
I start the day at 4AM
I am not allowed to talk to anyone
I am not allowed to eat after 12 noon
I am only served vegetarian food
I meditate 11 hours a day
I am stripped off my cellphone and contact with family, friends and work
Why should I join the meditation course if I have to go through all of that?
I thought I wouldn’t survive, but I resisted the urges and completed the course. I gained an immeasurable amount of wisdom, peace and joy in these 10 days. The course taught me a very easy practice that I can adhere to daily.
Why Dhamma Joti in Yangon?
Dhamma Joti Meditation center is one of the oldest and popular meditation centers founded by Mr Goenka. The center in Yangon is not crowded, unlike the other centers around the world. Joining the meditation course is free of charge. The center is run solely on donations, which you can contribute to only after you complete the 10-day course.
What if I am not a Buddhist? What if I am not Burmese? Can I still join?
Meditation is a universal activity that does not segregate anyone based on race, religion or nationality. At the center, I met many people from different countries with different beliefs but with one purpose—to practice mindfulness.
Will I be able to learn if I don’t speak Burmese?
I listened to the pre-recorded daily discourses in English throughout the 10-day course. Mr Goenka, the founder of Dhamma Joti Meditation Center, is fluent in English and he speaks in a lighthearted manner, sometimes cracking jokes so it was never boring. If you are not strong in English, you can choose to listen in other languages as well. There are Dhamma helpers in case you need help.
Where do I stay during the course?
On the 1st day, leave for the meditation center in the morning, sign in, leave your electronic devices in a locker at the entrance and settle in your assigned room. All the pillows, blankets and mosquito nets are provided. Just bring your toiletries. Preferably wear light clothes that are not revealing (long pants or long skirts, shawls) as the bedrooms do not have air-conditioning, only fan. Bring your own alarm clock in case you cannot hear the morning bell. Bring your water bottle to refill.
How can I apply?
There are two courses every month. Visit http://www.joti.dhamma.org for more information. Dhamma Joti Center is just 15 minutes from Winner Inn, in a central location in Yangon but secluded enough for a peaceful meditative retreat nestled in a tree-filled residential neighborhood.
Check in at Winner Inn on your first night in Yangon before beginning your 10-day meditation course at the Dhamma Joti. To reserve: Book.