I Tried A Meditation Workshop In Pai

I tried a Meditation Workshop in Pai

Doing some kind of workshop or retreat in Thailand is pretty par for the course in terms of activities to do while traveling South East Asia. In recent years yoga retreats and meditation workshops have become a popular pilgrimage for western travelers interested in eastern spirituality. The courses are generally less expensive in Asia than they are in the States, and there’s something to be said about learning a practice in a place that has been doing it for thousands of years.

I’d had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to try something new while we were in Thailand, a class or a retreat of some kind, I just hadn’t been sure about what. When we got to Pai I heard about a mediation center and found out that they had one day workshops for beginners. Meditation sounded interesting to me because, as I understood it, it was all about inner peace and balance and self improvement. And that sounded perfect to me. I really didn’t know much about it, and a one day workshop seemed like a good way to give it a try.

Open Mind Center, Pai

Open Mind Meditation Center, Pai

The Open Mind Center in Pai uses a non-denominational approach to exploration, healing, and growth through meditation. They offer workshops, classes, and retreats for meditation, massage, and healing in a beautiful natural setting. The center is just outside of town and is surrounded by rice fields and forests and has a peaceful and secluded feeling.

Open Mind Meditation Center, Pai

The Workshop

The morning of my workshop I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I had some now seemingly silly expectations that I would have some kind of break through or “ah ha” moment and suddenly know what I should do with my life. That’s not to say these kinds of things can’t happen through meditation, but that just wasn’t in the cards for me that day.

It was just me and one other student, so it was pretty intimate class setting. It started out with a little introduction to meditation and the center and then the instructor started asking us questions, what brought us here, what were we hoping to get out of this, what are you hopes, your fears, things you want to improve. I wasn’t really ready for this and I suddenly found myself thinking “why am I here?”. The other student’s answers seemed thought out and legitimate (somehow). And all I could come up with was, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life”, which at the time didn’t seem like something I wanted to say out loud. So I did something stupid and made something up. This seems kind of outrageous, to be making up answers for a workshop that is supposed to be all about self discovery. But in retrospect it’s very telling about the state of mind I was in.

After each meditation session we talked about the things we felt during the meditation, which made me so uncomfortable I wanted to curl up and disappear. The feelings I was having were not great, they were not the happy, positive, inspiring feelings I’d been hoping for. They we feelings a fear and anxiety and stress, and for whatever reason I didn’t want to admit it. The instructor told us sometimes meditation brings up feelings that you don’t want, but it more about accepting those feelings and even embracing them than anything else. I didn’t want to accept or embrace fear and anxiety, I wanted them to go away. So I made up more positive things about. It was like I was in a class discussion of a book I hadn’t read and was just making stuff up that I thought sounded right. I’m sure the instructor knew I was full of shit, but he let me go with it. I obviously wasn’t ready to deal with those feelings yet.

By the end of the workshop I was exhausted. I left feeling both relieved and confused. I hadn’t gotten the big “I’ve figured it out” moment that I’d been hoping for, instead I was confronted with feelings that I’d been ignoring for quite some time.

I didn’t get any immediate benefits from meditation, in fact the whole experience kind of put me off to it at first. It wasn’t until later after thinking about the experience that I really started to understand it. Why it is important to acknowledge and accept what ever feelings come up, because it is your body and subconscious trying to tell you something.

Meditating in Pai, Thailand

Should You Try Meditation?

If you are interested in mediation I would definitely recommend the Open Mind Center, the one day workshop is a good way to try it out and see if it’s something you are into, and if you are interested in a little more you can always do one of the retreats. The thing to remember is that you should go into it looking for a specific outcome, you probably won’t get it. Meditation is more about embracing and accepting the things that come to you. So if you go in with an open mind you will come out with something, and that something is different for every person and every situation.

Untold Morsels

11 thoughts on “I Tried A Meditation Workshop In Pai

  1. Kat

    You’re brave to have signed up for and gone to the workshop! I probably would have done the same thing and made something up if they’d asked me why I was there. I mean, they asked me that when I joined the gym and I panicked. It sounds like the experience was a bit confronting for you, but that you definitely got something out of it.
    Do people have an ‘ah-ha’ moment and get direction in their lives a lot? I can’t say that I’ve ever felt like I’ve had a direction – I kind of just float along with whatever gets thrown at me. Hmm. Damn, now you’re making me think! #FarawayFiles

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      I’m not totally sure about the “ah-ha” moment, but I always felt like it was a thing, maybe its just in movies or something? haha. It was definitely an interesting experience and I’m glad I gave it a try!

  2. Pingback: Thailand Destinations Guide: Where To Go In Thailand - Nattie on the Road

  3. Sarah

    Loved reading your thoughts on meditation – it’s very difficult and definitely not always enjoyable but the benefits are huge! I meditate occasionally and I used to do it a lot more when I went through my yoga teach training course. So neat that you got to do it in Pai as well 🙂

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      Thanks so much! yeah totally true, I didn’t really realize the benefits until way after. So cool that you practice!

  4. Katy

    I think everyone should try something once. Good on you for giving meditation a go. I’m not really into that intense experience either but I try to do some light mindfulness practice daily. I’m actually a bit suspicious of “a-ha” moments. In my experience change comes about gradually. Loved reading your honest appraisal. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      I like your idea of light mindfulness, that seems more my pace. And I totally agree, change happens over time, I’m not sure where I got that idea that I’d have an “ah-ha” moment, it’s a nice but probably unrealistic idea. Thanks for reading!

  5. Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    I really appreciate your honest account of your experience of meditation, Nattie. I tried meditating in the Indian Himalayas and I too, thought I’d experience that breakthrough moment which, of course, didn’t come – I actually found it really tricky clearing my mind of all the ‘stuff’ and thoughts constantly spinning around in my head. Fortunately I didn’t have the, what would have been to me, excruciating experience of having to talk about it to the instructor afterwards! Really enjoyed reading this for #FarawayFiles

  6. Erin Gustafson (@oregongirlworld)

    Are you still using the techniques you learned? I think I would have been a little intimidated by the intimate setting, but would definitely like to learn some more mindful strategies. Thanks for sharing – for now I’ll just meditate on that beautiful atmospheric mountain pic! #FarawayFiles

  7. Day

    Thank you for your article. I’m thinking of spending some time in the center. Could you share your experience with the food and the accommodation?

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      I didn’t actually stay at the center, I just did a day workshop. But the food they provided for lunch was very good, all vegetarian.


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