Short List of Large Meditation Centres That Could Accommodate You For Thingyan
Written by Htun Lyn Zaw
Setting aside time for meditation is an end of the year tradition for Theravada Buddhists. An act of leaving the old year with a clean slate of mind, by concentrating on the continuum of moments and awareness of mental and physical phenomena. The popular ritual means that many meditation centres in Yangon will be crowded during Thingyan time. There are also retreats, removed from urban chaos, in forests and mountains that have less foot traffic. These places also tend to have more committed people who go for yearlong stays.
Most of these centres cater to the needs of foreigners very kindly. Foreigners are often separated into special rooms from the local attendees but this should not be seen as segregation as much as accommodation. Since meditation norms can vary between cultures, separating people is seen as the best way to minimize distractions. Breakfast and lunch are provided, always with vegan options as well!
*Note that different centres often have their own distinct approach to meditation.
Dhamma Joti Vispassana Centre
Wingaba Yele Monastary // Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda Road // Bahan Tsp // (1) 549 290
Even though it is located in the center of Yangon, this 12 acre wide monastery will surely give you the serenity required to focus on meditating. They offer specific courses for foreign yogis, a term that not only refers to yoga but a general student of Buddhist meditation. The accommodation of foreigners make this an excellent place to start meditation as a long-term practice.
Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Centre
55A Kaba Aye Pagoda Road // (01) 661479 // Other locations as well
Days at Chanmyay Yeiktha usually start at 3am and ends around 9 pm at night. During that time, there is a lot of meditating overseen by an assigned monk and hear Dhamma talks. Chanmyay Yeiktha is a chain meditation centre, meaning it has several branches in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. There are locations on Kabar Aye Pagoda road in Yangon, the town of Hmawbi which is just outside of the city, the town of Pyin Oo Lwin near Mandalay and a Singapore branch. The Kabar Aye location obviously the most accessible but may be difficult to meditate with the noise of Thingyan outside the door. It would be wise to choose a rural quiet area like the Hmawbi Branch if you’re looking for a break from the end of the year party.
Panditarama Meditation Centres
Yangon: (951) 535448, 705525 // Rural: 95-1-535448 and 95-1-705525
The British affiliated Panditarama Centre has two locations, one in Bahan Township the other in the outskirts. The Bahan location is on Shwe Taung Gon, a combination of wealth and tranquility that has allowed the centre to gain popularity. The big allure is their second location secluded in a forest 40 miles outside of Yangon. The meditation centre has separate halls for men and women, with the staff reviewing the progress of the yogis and offering guidance throughout the session. Fill out a form at their website to attend the retreat.
Shwedagon Pagoda on 17th April is a good place to go if you’re interested in being part of a religious experience. There will not be meditation but a large ceremony with chanting and prayer to usher in the new year.