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What Makes A Meditation Retreat in Bhutan Super Special

Honestly, I hadn’t planned on signing up for this meditation retreat, mainly because, months ago, I’d just done a road-trip in Eastern Bhutan. It seemed rather atrocious (in the good sense) to visit Bhutan twice a year.

But, even more honestly, I had always yearned to do a meditation trip to Bhutan (&/or a yoga retreat). So, imagine my delight when the chance really presented itself, which I must thank the most awesome Bhutan travel agency – Druk Asia – for! 🤗😘

Going Bhutan for a Neykor meditation trip

What’s Neykor?

Ney means “holy“, while kor means “visit“. Neykor therefore means holy visit. Druk Asia, a travel agency specializing in Bhutan travel, organized this special Bhutan spiritual immersion trip in Dec 2019 (the next one will be on 11-17 Jun 2020). Called Neykor, this trip includes mindfulness workshops and Dharma talks, mainly intended for working adults. The workshops would teach applying compassion in the business world, and how to balance KPIs with grace. The main teacher leading the mindfulness aspect of this meditation trip would be His Eminence Khedrupchen Rinpoche.

“Meditation is one way to bring your mind back home.”

.. so shared by Khedrup Rinpoche on our very first session of meditating.


5 Reasons You Need to Do this Neykor Meditation Trip in Bhutan

1. Bhutan gives you the most conducive environment to learn meditation.

If you ask me, there’s no better country to pick up meditation than in Bhutan.

Trongsa | What Makes Neykor Meditation Trip in Bhutan Special • The Petite Wanderess

Bhutan is beautifully quiet and free of crowds. Here, you get plenty of forests, rivers – the best of nature. 71% of Bhutan is covered by forests, more than the law’s required 60%. When you’re sitting in a car in Bhutan, you’ll notice the sheer amount of mountains that surround you.

Naturally, with so much of nature’s magic, the energy field in Bhutan feels so pure. Just like that, your heart easily feels at peace. With a quiet heart and relaxed mind, it’s easier to enter a state of meditation.


2. You’ll get to do mindfulness sessions at some very special places.

Just, as an example: On top of a flat rock which you had to do a short hike to reach. Or, a 1,200-year-old monastery, which had been blessed by that Tigress consort whose back Guru Rinpoche flew on to get to Tiger’s Nest. Or unassuming-looking temples holding precious relics, guarded by chosen families.

If you especially like raw places with plenty of stories behind them, chances are, you’ll love a meditation trip in Bhutan.

Check out some of these unique places we were at for meditation sessions & workshops.

Sangchen Ogyen Tsuklag Monastery, Trongsa, Bhutan | What Makes Neykor Meditation Trip in Bhutan Special • The Petite Wanderess
Sangchen Ogyen Tsuklag Monastery in Trongsa

It was on a particular day on this meditation trip that I experienced the most magical meditation I’ve ever had in my life.

Burning Lake, Bumthang | What Makes Neykor Meditation Trip in Bhutan Special • The Petite Wanderess
Burning Lake

For someone who’s tried meditation here and there the past few years, this experience is worth noting down. We were doing a day trip from Trongsa to Bumthang. As part of Druk Asia’s fun arrangements, all of us were dressed in traditional Bhutanese costumes that day.

That morning was really chilly. We reached the first planned religious site of the day: Burning Lake. After a short hike, the Neykor group arrived at a flat rock, where Rinpoche laid on his belly, in order to stay safe while looking into the body of water deep below. Before chanting his prayers and blessings, Rinpoche summarized a fascinating story of this Burning Lake.

Next, after settling us on our cushions, it was here that Rinpoche led us on through visualization meditation. Sitting here with eyes closed, inhaling the freshness of this cooling air, surrounded by the sounds of water flowing whose location, we meditated.

Very soon, I was overcome by a sense of immense joy from within – a mixture of gratitude, contentment, love, and feeling very light inside my heart. I also was really thankful to be able to at this place, at this time. Finally, I experienced the power of meditation.

Druk Asia banner • The Petite Wanderess


3. Bhutan’s a good place to cleanse your body of unhealthy food, your mind from unhealthy thoughts.

Food-wise, vegetables make up the bulk of your meals.

When in Bhutan, you don’t get to eat luxurious food like plenty of meat (there would be at most one meat dish in every meal) or seafood (there’s no seafood here). Btw, the veggies in Bhutan are mostly organic – the healthy option!

| Read: All the first-world questions you have about travelling to Bhutan, answered here! |

Actually, Rinpoche had requested for us to skip meat during the days of our workshops, which we easily agreed to. But, I have to confess, there were 1-2 meals I totally forgot about skipping meat, like taking hot dogs during breakfast. 😅

As for lifestyle, there aren’t many temptations.

There really isn’t much to do in Bhutan. Roads are bumpy and it takes a real expert to be able to scroll social media, much less do reading while on the road. As for things like shopping or nightlife, you can mostly forget about it.

With so little distractions, all you can do is be in the moment.

Your meditation classmates will likely be good travel companions.

If someone would make the effort to sign up for this special meditation trip, you can be sure he/she likely won’t be a person who creates a lot of drama on overseas trips. He/She must have already acknowledged the benefits of meditation and thus is on this Neykor trip with you. The people on this first Neykor trip with me were all easygoing and very pleasant! 🤗

Spiritually, Bhutan is a place of pure energy.

Get ready to absorb the very pure, spiritual energy that the country side of Bhutan has to offer.

Curious about how the Bhutanese people and culture is like? I learned a lot of life lessons from this unique nationality, read here!


4. Almost every moment in Bhutan is a time to practise mindfulness.

Travelling on the roads in Bhutan – well – can be a bit of an adventure.

One idea I got to take away from these long hours on the roads of Bhutan, be it during this meditation trip, or getting from the east to the west of Bhutan, is –– Impermanence. You’ll notice the steep cliffs, knowing the car is winding around a road that has been cut into mountains bigger than you can visualize. When the weather’s fine and sunny, everything’s still fine. If the sky appears gloomy or the fog gets so bad that visibility is reduced beyond a few metres ahead of your vehicle, you’ll be reminded: your existence in this lifetime, as well as all the problems you thought you face in daily life – everything is simply impermanent. It all shall pass.

When you’re sitting on the roads in Bhutan, you’ll realize nothing is more real than the present moment. The best thing you can do for yourself is to appreciate the moment as what it is, and let go of what it’s not.

The national highway (more like, the main road) is currently being expanded extensively. Road conditions are a lot better in Dec 2019 compared to my very first Bhutan trip in Dec 2017.

Journeys are filled with unexpected scenarios.

While travelling from Trongsa to Paro, Rinpoche stopped the car to give some donations to an elderly local who was doing full prostrations along the road. After we drove off, I asked Rinpoche where that man was heading, and he answered “Bumthang, Kurjey Lhakhang”. My eyes widened in surprise when Rinpoche added that the man had started from Tiger’s Nest, Paro (western Bhutan). He had already been doing this pilgrimage – full prostrations on the road – for more than a month.

My city mind could not understand how this is possible (where does he sleep? Shower? Eat? Money? How about his family?)  I guess, to them, these questions are really not much of an issue. The faith and determination of Bhutanese can be so huge. Isn’t it incredible to know that you can always depend on fellow countrymen anytime? Wow.

The roads and weather get a bigger say than your plans.

We had to set off early due to road closure. The authorities were repairing a bridge and bridges in Bhutan are maintained by Japanese workers. And you know Japanese’s thing about punctuality. Somehow we made it through a few minutes before the closure, or else we’ll be delayed for 1 or 2 hours.

Later in the afternoon, our meditation program for the day at the monastery had already ended. Yet, we were ‘trapped’ at the monastery till night-fall, as the road back to our hotel was closed for maintenance until a certain timing.

sunset hours, Trongsa | What Makes Neykor Meditation Trip in Bhutan Special • The Petite Wanderess

While the rest of my group was busy filming the young monks doing their evening prayers, I strolled here on my own to enjoy the sceneries. A novice monk was doing the dishes the most primitive way possible – using a hose (with such evening skies in front of him!). Some cows joined him before they got herded away by a farmer.

Khedrup Rinpoche came by and invited myself and the other meditation students to his hut for more conversations over hot tea.

 

Things don’t always work, in Bhutan.

The taps in my very new hotel room stopped working, the morning we were to hike Tiger’s Nest.

The previous night’s temperature in Paro had already dropped to -1 degrees before 11pm. It felt very cold in the hotel room before the heater could warm the room up. Early next morning, the taps in the bathroom spluttered a bit then water stopped flowing totally. It was 5+ am when I called the reception. They reported that the water in the tanks had turned to ice, *gasps*. So, what was I to do? I still had to get ready to head out for breakfast before hiking Tiger’s Nest this morning.

So, instead of waiting for someone to bring me a bucket of water, I boiled my bottles of mineral water to freshen up. When the water finally returned later, it was brown water running for a long time. I didn’t wait and went ahead for our trek to Tiger’s Nest.

Neykor has a meditation course schedule, but don’t get too attached to it.

Our program was supposed to start on the 2nd morning, a total of three days of mindfulness workshops and sessions. However, Rinpoche only met up with us on the 2nd evening. Even then, no one really kicked a fuss. To everyone’s delight, Rinpoche was with us for four days in total, including adding in a day trip to Bumthang and hiking with us to Paro’s Nest.

If you ask me, I actually prefer the unexpectedness about this kind of arrangement – going with the flow where space allows and the stars align. Fixed programs can feel so restricting with no room for flexibility.

This is why Neykor trip is referred to as a spiritual immersive trip, rather than “a trip to Bhutan with some meditation workshops”.


5. Imagine hiking Tiger’s Nest.

As if hiking to the most iconic place to visit in Bhutan isn’t enough, when you join the Neykor retreat to Bhutan this coming June with Druk Asia, Rinpoche will be leading you to Tiger’s Nest.

At the final approach to the entrance, Rinpoche led us to sing/chant a very melodious mantra. The sun was bright, the waterfall was roaring, rainbow rays from the sun reflecting through the water. It was all good omens, apparently. Nothing could feel more right during that time.

Imagine MEDITATING inside TIGER’S NEST.

When you finally reach the monastery, Rinpoche will lead you through some meditating. Yes, inside the monastery’s shrines. Our sessions were always quietly executed, as our small group does not want to create much disruption to the tourists and visitors. However, often, Indian devotees will stumble upon our sessions and discreetly join us. Rinpoche was always warm and welcoming, while the ones who join us looked grateful.

Currently, there seem no regulations restricting people from meditating at Tiger’s Nest monastery, and I really hope this regulation would not need to be implemented ever.


Any other questions to ask about this Neykor trip or about meditation in Bhutan?

Disclosure: This Neykor meditation trip was part of a media trip organized by Druk Asia – Bhutan Travel Specialist. Special thanks to the Bhutanese staff of Druk Asia for making this Bhutan trip such a pleasure. Thank you too to Khedrup Rinpoche for the care, warmth and wisdom shared during the trip. All opinions and editorial control on this travel blog, as always, remain my own. Other than excellent services provided by their Bhutanese team, Druk Asia also offers fully customizable trips you would like to take in Bhutan. It’s a very established and reputable Bhutan travel agency which I highly recommend anytime!

Druk Asia banner • The Petite Wanderess

More Bhutan articles here!

Road-tripping through Eastern Bhutan – An amazing journey (Part 1)
Everything to know about Bhutan before you travel there!
Hiking to Tiger’s Nest without a Flying Tigress
Why You Shouldn’t Ride a Horse to Tiger’s Nest
What to Expect of Bhutan in Winter (December)
Rafting down Bhutan’s Rivers – You should try it!
Life lessons of wisdom, love and death, that the Bhutanese taught me

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