With all the heat, traffic and exhaust fumes, it seems impossible to escape the chaos of Colombo. Luckily, Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture means there’s always a meditation center or a retreat not too for away for you to find peace, and they’re pretty inclusive regardless of your religion, age, or experience.
Meditation trains your mind to be focused. It’s an exercise in control that helps you feel relaxed and like you are not constantly being controlled by external forces.
Implementing the philosophy and teachings of Buddhism as a guide to the social work they conduct, Dhamrivi Foundation offers meditation classes on Wednesdays and Sundays from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM with Sinhala instruction. They are free of charge. You don’t need to book classes in advance. Just walk in, keep quiet and follow the instructions.
51/A, Isipathana Mawatha,Havelock Town,
112 504 431
If you’re physically flexible, OM Space offers a Kundalini Meditation that combines yoga with meditation. It’s basically yoga, but slowed down with an emphasis on breathing exercises. You can get a whole year’s membership for Rs 2000, or Rs 800 for each session. They have 15 yoga classes, every week, and you can find their schedule online.
185/9 Havelock Road,
112 507 515
Another combo option is the Sattvic Vinyasa programme at Prana Lounge. Each session costs Rs 1000 for one and a half hours. It’s on the pricier side, but it’s also a smaller crowd and situated right in the heart of Colombo 7.
60 Horton Place,
112 684 808
It’s once you step out of our bustling capital that the abundance of meditation centres piles up. It’s actually really admirable, the sheer number of retreats and hermitages that exist which offer this teaching to anyone who wants to learn.
Just off Kandy, Nilambe is quite a well known retreat that’s got a pretty comprehensive program. You have to turn off your mobile phone and disconnect from the connected world, entirely. There are no drop-in sessions, so you have to check on their upcoming programmes (http://nilambe.net/upcoming-programs.php) and join at the start of a retreat and see it through to the end. You wake up, early, every morning, to the sound of a gong and you are then taken through a guided meditation. You’re also required to do a few chores that they refer to as working meditation. What’s cool about this experience is just how immersive it is into the practice of the Dharma.
Nilambe Buddhist Meditation Centre,
Founded in 1967, the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya is a monastery conducted in the strict forest tradition. While there are mendicant monks who practice strict meditation for 14 hours a day, there are more relaxed retreats for novices or those with existing meditation practice. Their website is very comprehensive, and there are retreats conducted in both Sinhala and English.
Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya
Meetirigala – 11742
0094 33 333 9193, 0094 77 722 6211
If you’re looking for a programme that’s more lax, try Ayya Khema. Situated in the Olaboduwa village, surrounded by paddy fields, rubber trees and cool, fresh air, this meditation center accommodates 20 people at a time. They provide vegetarian meals, and offer both Samatha and Vipassana meditation, discussions on the Dharma, counselling and Pali chanting. You can make a voluntary donation, if you’d like to support the center.
Ayya Khema International Buddhist Meditation Center,
Olaboduwa, Gonapola, Horana
112 501 194
While there are loads of options for meditation in the city and out, there isn’t a lot of information that’s easy to access. A lot of people seem to find out about programs through word of mouth, but these are some that have been recommended to us and that we’ve tried out. Do comment and let us know your favourites that we've missed out.
It’s generally a good idea to practice meditation on a weekly basis, though a daily routine is ideal. If you have the time and the motivation, go immerse yourself in one of the retreats, you’ll thank us for it. Even if it’s just for a few days, what you take away from it will deeply affect your life for the better.
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