Can You Give Up All Earthly Pleasures For A Meditation Course?

Imagine taking a vow of silence, cutting off all contact from your loved ones and the outside world, giving up grog and only eating vegetarian meals – all for the duration of a 10-day, live-in meditation course, in the name of personal enlightenment?

RELATED: Common Myths About Meditation

Personally, I’d struggle on all fronts – particularly with not being able to see my husband and two toddlers for that long – but for countless others, this is nirvana. For in the eternal quest for peace of mind and happiness, people are flocking to a residential meditation centre in regional South-East Queensland, set in landscaped gardens within 60 acres of bushland.

And once there, thousands of meditation students will, each year, willingly take a vow of “noble silence” for the duration of a 10-day adult course which caters for up to 70 people.

Participants must also eschew all modern luxuries, such as the use of technology, including all electronic devices. Eek!

Following the age-old technique of Vipassana meditation one of India’s most ancient practices hailing back to the time of Buddha more than 2500 years ago Dhamma Rasmi is located at Pomona, Queensland, about two hours north of Brisbane.

This Vipassana meditation centre is hugely popular with both men and women and even offers 20-day courses for “old students”. About 40 courses in total are run annually, including one-to-two day classes for teenagers and children, and pregnant women are welcome at the adult courses.

meditation, meditation retreat, mindfulness

So, why on earth would you do it? The benefits of such a 10-day meditation course are said to include:

  • It’s a practical way to achieve peace of mind and boost your happiness and productivity.
  • A 10-day residential course with a qualified teacher gives students the opportunity to be “free from distractions”, according to the course terminology. This apparently helps you tap into your reality within.
  • This technique is said to help participants “come out of suffering”.
  • The course is non-sectarian and so suitable to all people, regardless of religion, gender, race or nationality.
  • It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, and “dissolves mental impurity”, resulting in a balanced, uncluttered mind full of love and compassion.

mindfulness, Buddhism, appreciation

And a word of warning, dear reader: this residential meditation course is a serious undertaking and not for the faint-hearted.

Before you apply, you’re encouraged to “read and accept the code of discipline”, including what is expected of you, lest you get chucked out. And note well: all journalistic attempts were made to interview a course convenor or teacher for this story, but all such requests were declined. Apparently, publicity is neither sought nor welcomed, hmph.

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February 10, 2015

Meditation Retreat At Nan Tien Temple

Most of us feel the need to withdraw from our rushed, busy lives every now and then. A weekend retreat is a perfect way to experience a quick dose of peace, try something new and come back reenergised.

When I signed up for a meditation retreat at Nan Tien Temple, I expected a few hours of meditation here and there and lots of free time to catch up on much needed sleep. The vow of Noble Silence (no speaking) for the duration of the retreat also looked very attractive – I could participate in classes and group activities without having to engage in small talk, which, as an introvert, I often find exhausting.

After checking into my accommodation, a nice hotel-like lodge, I went to meet the rest of the group and our meditation teacher. To my surprise, I found that the retreat’s schedule was very full. There was a lot to squeeze into one and a half days – morning chants, a tour of the temple, a tea ceremony, a tai chi class and evening meditation after dinner, just to mention a few of the activities.

I felt overwhelmed when I looked at my schedule, but I soon understood the intention behind it. The Buddhist monk, who was teaching us, talked about how mindfulness and meditation were not something you did once in a while, when you had the right conditions (when you’d managed to get away from the city for a day or two for a retreat). Instead, our teacher’s goal was to have us pay attention to every activity we engage in and practice skills that we could take into our daily lives. So during the weekend we practiced being mindful in everything we did, whether we were meditating, walking, eating, drinking tea, doing tai chi or listening to the history of the temple.

Observing Noble Silence wasn’t the only rule. No smoking and no meat were allowed on the territory of the temple, and all electronic devices were to be switched off. I broke one of the rules – I spent some time taking night photos of the temple (when else was I going to get that chance?) until one of the monks noticed and asked me to put my camera away.

Despite this little distraction, I still felt the power of mindfulness to transform stress into peace and I was amazed that it happened in such a short time. When retreat was over I didn’t want to go. I didn’t reach out for my phone or ebook reader (something I’d normally do when I have a free minute), I just sat at the lake and watched the fish for hours.

Image from

By Tatiana Apostolova

August 23, 2014