Today, we visited the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat Centre, located on the ancient capitol of Cambodia by the same name. On the way, we passed the oldest temples in the country, circa 800 A.D. We would be participating in a half-day meditation session at the center that offers people a place to develop a yoga or meditation practice by offering week or month stays and workshops on creative arts and music. As soon as we arrived, we were asked to remain silent for the remainder of our day, as Saturday is the retreat’s day of silence. Quiet giggles could be heard as we adjusted to the silence while learning about mindful eating. We were given free time to explore the property, look at books about Buddhism in their library, and relax as the residents do in the multitude of hammocks scattered throughout the area.
We began to learn about meditation from the calming voice of Joel, the founder of the center. Meditation is a way of life for many people here as it is an integral part of Buddhism, the most practiced religion here. A focal point of our meditation practice was learning to center our energy to our ‘third eye’, the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. Our two thirty-minute meditation sessions proved to be a lot for some of us to handle, as it is a completely new way of thinking and being (or not being). We have been living by a fast-paced schedule for the past few weeks and this experience was the complete opposite of that, though a welcomed one. All can agree that this experience gave insight into this completely different world.
Our leader Joel informs about the practice of meditation in the Hariharalaya’s yoga hut. Photo by Kimberly Blasnik
Tori Bonner relaxes in a hammock during free time. Photo by Erica Firestone
Krista Adams and other students assume the meditation position in order to make our bodies ‘energy circuits.’ Photo by Erica Firestone
Carly Costello admires some of the hand painted Buddhist artwork at the center. Erica Firestone