This past weekend I went for another temple stay, this time at the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Center on Kanghwado Island. As this was the second time I went for a temple stay I was a little more knowledgeable on what to expect (you can read all about my first temple stay experience at Haeinsa Temple here). I have to say however the two temple stay experiences were quite different in many aspects. To start off with the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Center (from now on I am going to call it LL because since otherwise it is too much to type) is much smaller than Haeinsa. It is a couple of buildings on a compound out on the island.
So…to start off with you need to get yourself as close to LL as possible. If you have a car you can easily drive there, if not you can call from Ganghwa Bus Terminal and then call LL at which point they will come to pick you up.
After about a 20 minute drive to LL I arrived and was given a brief intro to my room for the weekend and a change of clothes.
The room situation seems pretty typical for a templestay. Rooms are divided by gender so ladies and gentlemen are separated. Each room can cold up to 3 people, I would guess depending on how many temple stay participants are attending at that particular time. As for the sleeping situation, you are provided with a mat to sleep on that is pretty comfortable as well as a pillow and blankets.
The clothes at LL varied a little bit in that it was a set of pants and vest as opposed to the long sleeved top I wore at Haeinsa. Either way, both temple clothing options were really comfortable.
After getting situated I was given a little overview of the schedule and some temple guidelines to follow during the stay.
I really have to say that at LL I really was given a detailed discussion on methods of mediation and some really helpful advice. The monk who was helping me out spoke great English and was very patient with my many questions. This was great since it was a strong interest in meditation that led me to LL in the first place.
There is something about getting away from your day to day life that really helps you focus on other things and just clear your mind.
Again, the temple stay food is pretty tasty, vegetarian with plenty to choose from. You are always welcome to eat as much as you want, just make sure to eat all that you take. This can be kind of hard as I usually over serve myself and then end up too full.
After the evening ceremony, meditation and some late night yoga I was left to get an extremely restful sleep. In the morning after completing the early ceremony I walked around and snapped some pictures to try and capture the peaceful environment.
The second day of my stay was pretty interesting….there was a random puppy found at LL…but I’ll dedicate a whole post to that story soon. I also took walk around the neighborhood with one of the monks and later had a nice tea time talk with the other resident monk. Something interesting to note about LL is that the monks here are not Korean. One of the monks is Russian and the head monk is Indian. Both speak English well and are easy to converse with.
Something that is unique at LL is that you will practice some calligraphy by writing down one of the sutras in Chinese, Korean and English. This was pretty fun and something I haven’t done before.
There is also a dog that lives on the property who is super friendly! She loves being pet and will wait for you to come out to pet her…or nap around the property.
All in all, I very much enjoyed my time at LL and am definitely planning a future visit. It is not too far from where I live in Gimpo and they offer a less involved stay where you practice a lot of self led meditation. I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone interested in a temple stay who wants to be able to talk directly with the monks in English.