Sometimes it’s good to get away and recoup. I used to do that at Maranatha in Janda Baik previously, but this year, Eddy and I decided to visit the Seven Fountains Retreat in Chiang Mai. A Catholic retreat in the Ignition tradition, just like Maranatha in Janda Baik, this is a retreat centre in the city (unlike Maranatha in Janda Baik!).
I have to admit, I was under the impression that the retreat centre was in the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Thailand, maybe a little bit like how Janda Baik is to Kuala Lumpur. But actually, Seven Fountains is pretty close to a night market area and a bunch of massage places. It isn’t close to the main shopping and tourist areas of Chiang Mai, however.
I have never been to Thailand in October and I was a little under the impression that it would be cooler. The last time I was in Chiang Mai, it was December and pretty cool in the mornings and evenings, and a little warm in the middle of the day. This time, it was warm all day round and humid the whole day!
Seven Fountains is a shady retreat and I was actually surprised at how pleasant and quiet it was, notwithstanding the busy street just outside and market a few streets away. At night, the grounds were pitch black and soundless!
For me, I found the guided meditation perhaps a little ‘basic’ for me. What the retreat afforded me however was plenty of time for my own meditation and reiki, including distance reiki with my cats!
In the end, after the second or third night, we did sneak out and find a temple nearby with a huge under-construction Ganesha outside. Later, we discovered that many in our group had been sneaking out every night for massages and shopping! So much for silent retreat!
One charming aspect of the grounds were the number of rabbits playing. At night, they were a little creepy (if you didn’t know there were rabbits) because they’d be darting around you in the pitch dark. But in the morning, they brought incredible joy to the heart!
After the retreat, we did spend one night in Chiang Mai itself. It has been commercialised a lot since we were there five years ago. The markets had been upgraded, were much cleaner and there were all these ladies hanging off the streets and you actually had to use a lot of strength to rip them off your arms!
Sad, because Chiang Mai used to be so charming…
Have you been to Chiang Mai for a meditation retreat? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
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