Abiding in the Wild:
Nurturing Love, Awareness, and the Heart's Deep Release
New Year’s Vipassana Retreat with Mindful Movement
December 29, 2019 – January 8, 2020
With Steven Smith, assisted by Pari Ruengviseh and Darine Monroy
Mindful movement with Julie Seibt
Jungle Yoga, Cheow Lan (Rajaprapa Lake), Surat Thani, Thailand
We will begin each day sitting together in the stillness of this remote jungle lake, as dawn slowly brings on the indescribable jungle chorus of cicadas and gibbons. Together, we will learn to cultivate seamless awareness in all sense fields, nourished by the dedicated cultivation of the 'divine abidings': unconditional friendliness, wise compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. In each moment of returning gently to the present, we develop the ability to abide with clarity and kindness in the midst of both subtle and strong emotions.
Cheow Lan is a remote, beautiful lake in the interior of Southern Thailand. Located on the edge of Khao Sok National Park, the lake is hidden among towering limestone karst formations. The prehistoric jungle is part of a wildlife sanctuary that is home to gibbon apes, langur monkeys, giant hornbills, serpent eagles and many other rare birds and animals.
Steven V. Smith co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. This partnership helped usher in the beginnings of Vipassana Hawai’i’s Fusion Dhamma approach combining traditional and contemporary teaching styles in the same retreat. Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, he was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Steven dedicates his time teaching Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) in meditation retreats around the world.
Julie Seibt is an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist and IRI Certfied iRest Teacher®. Julie is grateful to her primary meditation teachers, Steven Smith and Michele McDonald. She has led mindful movement sessions at many of their retreats in Thailand and Hawaii since 2010. With additional training as an Asian Bio-Energetic Therapist and Master Reiki Teacher, Julie brings a holistic, compassionate and mindful approach to well being. (See bodymindease.com for full bio)
Pari is committed to formal meditation practice on intensive retreats and applying the teachings in her daily life. Her primary practice is the Four Establishments of Mindfulness in the Mahasi Tradition. She has practiced under the guidance of the late Sayadaw U Pandita and Sayadaw U Lakkhana of Burma, and since 2010, Sayadaw U Vivekananda of Panditarama Lumbini, Nepal.
Darine Monroy has been a student of Michele McDonald and Steven Smith since 2011. She has taught for Mindful Schools and has completed the Hakomi Comprehensive Training. Darine was born and raised in Mexico, and meditation retreats have been among the most meaningful experiences of her life.
Accommodations are in private, comfortable floating bamboo jungalows/kutis. Linens, blankets, and towels are provided.
The food is delicious and nutritious with wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables from the jungle and local markets, and fresh fish from the lake. Meals will be mainly vegetarian with fish and occasionally, chicken.
Fresh drinking water is readily available. Lighting in the evening is provided by the moon and the stars. There is a small generator, usually on from 6:30 pm - 10 pm for lighting and outlets available for charging a few necessary electrical items.
This is a rare opportunity to be unplugged with no Internet or telephone service available except for emergency use only.
Payment / Registration
A $1400 USD registration fee will secure your place at the retreat, cover the costs of three meals per day, accommodation for 10 nights, transport to and from Surat Thani airport, as well as the travel costs of the teachers and support our scholarship program for future retreats. Click HERE to register.
Dana: In keeping with the Buddhist practice of Dana (generosity), teachers are not paid through the registration funds. The teachings will be offered freely and donations to the teachers (in cash or online) are accepted and deeply appreciated by the teachers.
There is no ATM or currency exchange at the pier or at the venue. Both are available at the Bangkok Airport.
The Surat Thani airport is a last resort only - here there are ATM machines, but no currency exchange, and sometimes the group departure is delayed by yogis hassling with malfunctioning machines. Please try to prepare for your currency needs well before the travel dates and times.
National Park entrance fee: To speed up boarding at the pier, the retreat organisers will pay 300 Thai baht (apps $10) on your behalf at the park booth near the pier. You can settle this with any other personal bills on checkout.
Other considerations for expenses are massage for 600 Baht (appx $18) per hour, a small shop offers comfortable clothing, and fresh coconuts and soft drinks will be available for purchase.
We arrange a group pickup to and from Surat Thani airport. From Bangkok to Surat Thani is 1-hour flight.
We recommend these flights on Thai Smile - Thai Airways’ domestic carrier to and from Bangkok’s international airport:
Arrival WE251 - BKK-URT departs 7.40 a.m. arrives 9:05 a.m.
Departure WE252 - URT-BKK departs 9.35 a.m. arrives 10.55 a.m.
Our group pickup will meet and drop off for these flights.
The group transfer vehicle will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to the Chiew Lan Lake pier, a 1-hour drive.
From the pier, there is a 30-minute boat ride across a phenomenal lake to reach Praiwan Raft House.
Departure at the end of the retreat is early to get you back to the airport by 8.30am.
You are welcome to book other airlines/ routes and to coordinate with the group transfers pickup and drop-off points. Upon registration, you will receive all the information you need to make arrival and departure as smooth as possible, including options for private transfer if you are travelling to destinations other than Bangkok.
However, because of the remote location of the site and infrequency of transfer options, make sure to check any unusual travel plans with our registrar well in advance. We also highly recommend that you arrive the night before in Bangkok to get a good sleep and some self care — a tight schedule on arrival coupled with jet lag can make your first few days of retreat a total blur.
Because of the remote location of the site and infrequency of transfer options, make sure to make your plans for arrival and departure in advance.
For detailed information on the retreat, travel, and ANY questions you may have, please email our registrar.
Here is a short video of one of our teachers, Jake Davis, explaining the basics of our approach and the value of practicing in this amazing environment:
Teacher dana - In accordance with tradition, all Vipassana Hawai’i internationally respected teachers offer their guidance and teachings free of charge and are supported through the freely-offered generosity of students and supporters. Costs associated with retreats cover the expenses associated with food, lodging, and administration but not teacher time, training, effort, or energy. We believe that this commitment helps keep the purity of the teachings alive and thriving, as it has for millennia. They do not collect salaries in keeping with the time-honored tradition of sharing openly the chance for peace. This allows us to pass on our direct facility costs and keep our registration fees as low as possible. As a result, we strive to give back in monetary gratitude so that they may continue their endeavors and share their wisdom.
Please note our Cancellation Policy:
If you cancel more than 90 days prior to the retreat: We will refund all less $150 USD for administration and currency handling costs.
If you cancel 89 days or less prior to the retreat: Retreat fees are non-refundable. Cancellation insurance is recommended.
Cancellations affect retreat planning, are costly and sometimes mean that others cannot attend the retreat. If there are extreme circumstances and we have someone else to fill your spot at a sold-out retreat, we will consider your refund request on an individual basis.