|July 30, 2012|
An Annual Meditative Retreat at Amanjiwo
As a spiritual person, even I was very surprised at what magically aligned and suddenly manifested as an invitation to Amanjiwo last year for their annual meditation retreat, Inward Journey. This was a fantastic opportunity to deepen my knowledge about Tibetan Buddhism and to visit one of the most impressive Buddhist monuments in the world, while indulging in the intimate luxury experience Aman resorts around the world are famous for.
Located in the heart of Central Java, Amanjiwo, which means peaceful soul, is a serene luxury resort located within a natural amphitheatre and surrounded by the four volcanoes of Sumbing and Sundoro to the west, and Merbabu and Merap to the east. In many ways the resort itself is temple-like, the main structure being a round, domed limestone building surrounded only by 36 suites that form a fan-like formation. All the suites have terrazzo flooring, high ceilings and sliding glass doors that open onto a private garden terrace, and towards the back next to the bathroom is even a sunken outdoor bathtub. It’s an ideal luxury setting to immerse oneself in the spiritual and cultural legacy of Central Java, and beckoning in the not so far distance on the horizon is the 9th century Buddhist temple of Borobudur, in which the property and the suites are aligned.
For those who would like to learn more about looking within through meditation or even for those experienced, this retreat is the perfect introduction or break away from the commotion of city life, to be surrounded in nature’s tranquillity while working on one’s spirituality. It really helps when the harmony of nature outside can be transferred and reflected within, and the spiritual energy you feel from this part of the world is very special and palatable.
This year, Amanjiwo is offering the retreat over four days, from September 20 to 24th 2012. Leading the retreat once again is Tibetan Buddhist teacher Khandro Thrinlay Chodon of the Tibetan Buddhist Drukpa Kagyu/Vajrayana lineage. Warm and friendly, Khandro-la, as she is known, holds her family’s yogic spiritual lineage. Her great grandfather, Togden Shakya Shri, was a fully realized master in Dzogchen and Mahamudra renowned for teaching the highest levels of Vajrayana practice and Chodon herself began spiritual training as a young child. Best of all, as a lay and female teacher she brings a fresh and heartfelt perspective to her teachings and talks. Topics specific to the retreat will include the importance and essence of the holy site Borobudur and how to access the spiritual depth of the monument to sustain inner nurturing. In addition, mindfulness in daily life, the principles and importance of a free-flowing heart and mind space that is quiet and stable, as well as methods that help to assist with focus and calm will be taught.
A great opportunity for reflection and peaceful contemplation, during the four days spiritual-related activities cover various meditations and instructions, private healing and counselling, and excursions to Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut temples. What I really liked about the retreat was that in addition to hands-on spiritual practice, you get to learn and participate in the cultural side as well. Long time resident and archaeologist expert Toni Tack will conduct lectures about the ancient temples in the area, and if you’re lucky, she’ll have time to accompany the group to the sites and be available to answer any questions on the historical and cultural aspects in Central Java or Indonesia. Other cultural highlights include having dinner in a traditional Javanese house, a ride in an andong (traditional horse and cart) while taking in the local scenery and Javanese villages, and a special farewell dinner with a traditional mask dance. Furthermore, thanks to special arrangement, you’ll actually get to meditate inside the temples of Pawon and Mendut, participate in an evening candlelit puja, and if it is meant to be, have the chance to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha at a true power spot on the Progo River.
The four-night retreat costs USD3400 for a Garden Suite or USD4200 for a Garden Pool Suite and includes yoga, morning and afternoon meditation group classes, daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, airport transfers and entrance fees to Borobudur and Mendut temples. Rates are based on single or double occupancy and are subject to 10% service charge and 11% government tax. Garuda Airlines flies daily from Hong Kong to Yogyakarta.