Awareness Is Bliss
Myanmar Meditation Tour & Retreat Experience
Learn the Art of Living through the science of meditation. Our expert designed vipassana yoga & pilgrimage is unique to Luminous Journeys, and was our founding inspiration.
This non-sectarian spirit quest into mystic Myanmar is a perfect vessel for anyone ready to begin or renew their greatest challenge – self discovery! Though the ‘self’ may be elusive, discovering Myanmar itself is there for the asking. The world center of Theravadan Buddhism for over 1,000 years, the Golden Land boasts many of the oldest, largest and most spectacular pagodas, payas, stupas and zedis on earth. With great masters & very welcoming population, Burma is truly a Pilgrim’s Paradise.
Beth Kanji Goldring
w/ World Best Guide Awardee,
Hotels: 4 & 5 Star
Highlights: Meditation w/ Burmese Masters, Yangon & Shwedagon Pagoda, Bagan Hot Air Balloon, Sunset @ U Bein Bridge, Mandalay Array, Holy Hills of Sagaing, Amazing Mt. Popa, Special Farewell Dinner @ The Strand, The Wonderful People of Myanmar!
What’s extra special about this meditation tour, is who is leading it. Beth Kanji Goldring led a remarkable life even before she became the coolest Buddhist nun around, including stints as a university humanities teacher and human rights worker. She began sitting Zen in 1979 and was ordained in Maurine Stuart’s Zen lineage in 1995. She currently studies with Gil Fronsdal at Insight Retreat Center in California.
Until very recently Beth lived in Phnom Penh where she founded Brahmavihara Cambodia in 2000. She and her organization have received international recognition for their extraordinary compassion and skill, offering material support, relief from suffering and spiritual dignity to the destitute, the dying and their families. She is a recipient of several humanitarian awards, including the 2008 SawangKuan-Um Thammasathan Foundation Award, presented to her by Thailand’s Princess, HRH Professor Dr. Chlabhorn Walaikak. In addition, she has received the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award in 2008, the Insight Meditation Karuna Award in 2009, and the Engaged Buddhist Award in 2010.
Beth will conduct guided morning and evening meditations of 30 – 45 minutes, and both she and World Best Guide winner, Frankie Naing, will help keep you in the moment throughout! Frankie is a longtime meditation practitioner, a joy to be around, and will be in charge of the seamless logistics you will rave about after the tour. You will also have the opportunity to visit and meditate at Panditarama Meditation Center, a monastery on the Irrawaddy River in Bagan, and a nunnery in the Holy Hills of Sagaing.
Intensive periods of meditation are essential to vipassana yoga, but are not necessarily a hot vacation idea. Luminous Journeys therefore, given the strictures of time and varying experience levels, has introduced the overnight ‘mini-retreat’. We end the journey this way, and it’s optional. For those seeking a longer, more intensive retreat, we can extend you for any period up to the date of your visa expiry, at minimal extra charge.
Please click Game Plan tab above for the itinerary. For more information on the Luminous Approach, eligibility, etc., please continue down the page. For destination details, please see Myanmar Destinations.
Beginning students to advanced yogis ages 18 & up, who are of able body and sincerely interested in a meditation retreat are welcome. We offer something for everyone, and everyone will naturally find their own level within the program. There is also no whip-cracking here—keeping the light in the right perspective and having a great time is what we’re all about.The practice of vipassana is non-sectarian, as is this meditation retreat. Even though the technique was developed by the Buddha and will be instructed by Buddhists in a Buddhist country, it is not necessary to be Buddhist! Old Gautama didn’t preach a religion; he taught an Art of Living by which all persons are welcome to benefit from.
Vipassana in Brief
Vipassana meditation, often called ‘Insight’ or ‘Mindfulness’ meditation, comes from the tradition of Theravada Buddhism based on the Pali Canon, which is widely regarded as the earliest surviving record of the Buddha’s teachings. Vipassana is the inner science of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body – moment to moment, staying in the ‘now’ to the most extreme degree possible. The technique is simple, gentle and suitable for anyone seeking to experience truth directly, without a middleman! The rewards of such experience are a balanced, crystalline mind free of negativity resting in peace and expressing in wisdom, love and compassion.
The Luminous Approach
What do we mean by, “engage the journey as a meditation?” Simply put, we mean paying closer attention to the moment than we normally might. In formal meditation of course, but also in things like brushing our teeth, tasting our food, haggling with locals, meeting new people, taking in the sights, and listening to our guide! The more we learn to pay attention in the moment the deeper and more penetrative our attention becomes, releasing such natural by products as feelings of peace, joy and bliss.
Guided sitting meditations will take place most mornings and evenings, often in the hotel but also in various other locations as appropriate. Guided walking meditations will take place on the spur of the moment, where our slow pace won’t be a bother to anyone.
As indicated above, making the entire spirit tour a meditation is an essential element to our maximum experience.
To that end, gentle and often humorous prodding by our outstanding guides will bring us back from those pesky daydreams into the past and future, and help to keep us aware in the moment. The moment is where the magic is.
Design Sense: Myanmar Meditation Retreat
Key to leaps in advancement in one’s overall long term practice is the Meditation Retreat, a period of intensive meditation held in seclusion from the outside world. Such retreats are usually for periods of (7) or (10) days, although weekend versions are being offered more and more. Not so much in Burma, where most meditation centers require a one week minimum stay. This is not to get your money, but to help ensure a deepening of your practice and increase the probability of a breakthrough. It takes time for people to settle in and adapt to the rigorous routine.
Again, given the strictures of time and varying experience levels, we knew we had to keep our intensives relatively short and sweet. Thus the introductory, overnight ‘mini-retreat’ was born. It takes place at the end of tour, and is optional. The ‘mini-retreat is also option-extendable for those seeking a longer, more intense period of retreat. It can be for any length of time you wish up to your visa expiry date. Longer stays for the purposes of meditation are possible, inquire within.
Mini-retreat check-in at the meditation center is around 6 pm with the program beginning at 7. You’ll meet the Master and receive instruction. Instruction is followed by three hours of meditation, alternating between sitting and walking. Lights out at 11. We get to sleep-in the next day until 3:30am and begin meditation at 4:00am. Breakfast is followed by a Dharma talk, three more hours of alternating meditation, and the retreat finishes up with a personal interview with the Master. He’ll ask you about the experience and offer insight for your further advancement. Check-out is around noon. If this sounds difficult, it can be, especially for the novice. Then again it’s a far cry from (10) days! But you get through it and you learn a lot and feel great about it.
With people checking in at various times or even a day early, your time is yours to settle in or have a look around the beautiful hotel grounds and lake, with views of Shwedagon Pagoda. This might also be a good opportunity for the shopping inclined to do some cost browsing at the 2000 shops of the Bogyoke Aung San Market.We meet for a late afternoon orientation at the hotel, then head over to the most stunning pagoda anywhere – Shwedagon – for our first meditation together in its quiet reaches. Some 2,500 years old, this 325 foot tall stupa is covered in some 60 tons of donated gold, and is the spiritual center of Burma. We’ll see families at prayer, monks in walking and sitting meditation, ornate art, architecture and statuary, and hear the fascinating story behind it all. Your special Welcome Dinner follows. Overnight Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
After breakfast we’ll visit our favorite meditation center – the one we will return to for retreat at the end of the trip – for a talk and to receive instruction from a Burmese Master — sitting, walking, and everyday mindfulness meditation. After the program we will hit the air for the marvels of Mandalay.The airport is an hour from the city center, so our first stop is Amarapura and the picturesque U Bein Bridge for afternoon/sunset. The U Bein is the longest teak structure on earth. You can enjoy it from the lake, walk its length with monks, locals and other travelers, or both!Mandalay is young, founded in 1857 by King Midon, who was inspired by the Buddha’s prophecy that a great city of wisdom would be built along the Irrawaddy at the foot of the holy mount of Mandalay. The king based his design on seven edifices: the Royal City and her battlement walls; its moat; the great Stupa of Maha Lawka Marazein; the Pahtan Haw ShweThein higher ordination hall; the “Incomparable” Atumashi Monastery; the Thudhama Zayats public houses for preaching the doctrine; and the Library for Buddhist Scriptures. We won’t have time to see them all, but we will do what we can!
Overnight Amazing Mandalay Hotel
Following early morning meditation and breakfast, we head to the legendary Irrawaddy River for a private cruise, landing first at the massive Mingun temple, magnificently massive temple of Mingun made famous by Steve McCurry in National Geographic. Mingun is also home to the largest, un-cracked, ringing bell on the planet. Cast in bronze in 1808, the Mingun Bell is 13-feet high and weighs some 200 tons. Next door is the all-white Hsinbyume temple where you might be able to talk some young monks into modeling for some fantastic photo ops. There are also pink-robed, giant cheroot smoking nuns around, who can be a real kick.We continue by river to the holy hills of Sagaing, the rarefied air home to some 600 hundred monasteries, nunneries and unique pagodas, including the 17th century Kaung Hmu Daw, and the brilliant red and gold of Kaungmudaw. After touring, you will visit a wonderful nunnery festooned with pink robed nuns and meet the Master. We’ll tour the grounds and learn about their lifestyle and study, be able to ask questions of the master, and sit with the nuns to enjoy their last meal of the day – at 11:30 am! Return to Mandalay and visit the second holiest site in Myanmar, the gold covered Mahamuni Buddha. Here pilgrims pray and place gold leaf upon the Buddha, which you are welcome to partake in as well.
Overnight Amazing Mandalay Hotel
Arrive at the truly stunning Mt. Popa Resort about noon for lunch and check-in to our beautiful bungalows with mind blowing views of Popa Taungkalat Monastery, which stands atop a 1,000 foot volcanic spire rising from the plain. Relax in your room, take a swim in the beautiful pool, trek the mountain trail that begins at the hotel… Early evening meditation on the sunset terrace, followed by a sumptuous Burmese dinner.
Ovenight Mt. Popa Resort
Morning meditation and breakfast, and for those who so choose, a 777 step stairway to nirvana to check out Taungkalat Monastery and the sweeping views. On the approximately 30-mile mile scenic drive to Bagan we’ll visit Kyaukpadaung Market Pyi Farm.Bagan is one of the richest archaeological sites in the world. At its height, the almost surreal Buddhist temple-scape on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River boasted more than 13,000 temples and pagodas. It was the world center of Theravada Buddhism for a thousand years until Kublai Khan and the Mongols came calling. 2,220 temples still stand today.Visit the temples by horse cart this afternoon, see Thatbyinnyu, the tallest in Bagan, the massive Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and the beautiful Sulamani. Sunset atop an ancient temple terrace with views of Ananda Paya, with an unforgettable twilight meditation to follow.
Overnight Amazing Bagan Hotel
For those who have opted in, this dawn will be one that you will never forget — an exhilarating flight in a hot air balloon over one of the most exotic landscapes on the planet. Not to worry, the balloons are built to the highest standards of the British aerospace industry by Cameron Balloons Limited, UK, the world’s largest manufacturer, and the pilots are among the best in Asia. For those who opt out, seeing your friends soaring and taking in the temple-top views is still a fantastic experience.Return to hotel for breakfast and a short rest. Highlights for the rest of the day will include visiting the incredible Ananda Temple, Shwezigon Paya, a Laquerware workshop, and a special lunch in a Burmese home made by a local family. The lunch will be in traditional Burmese style and you can also enjoy cooking with the family!In the late afternoon we a have a rare treat for you – a visit to a quiet riverside monastery to meet the master, the monks and nuns, and to chant and meditate in their new meditation hall. Local lay people will also join us on this very special meditation occasion. Overnight Amazing Bagan Hotel
Early morning flight to Inle Lake. The lake is home to numerous hill tribe peoples, floating villages, floating markets, floating temples, cheroot rollers, leg-rowing fishermen, fantastic silver artisans, & lotus silk weavers, and we will get the chance to visit many. The hotel is the best on the lake, with great food, spa facilities, massage and even a meditation chamber!
Overnight Inle Princessl
The best and least used way to take in the palpable magic of the lake, is to visit floating villages and pagodas by canoe. Start very early to enjoy sunrise on the water and witness the lake come to life. This is a great time to practice mindfulness meditation and experience this very special place with keen, tranquil awareness.After the best tasting homemade ‘brunch’ of your life served by your Intha boatman, we’ll be picked up by longtail boats and return to the hotel for a rest. After checkout we boat back to charming Nyaungshwe for a fantastic Shan style rice pasta lunch (incredible avocado salad, anyone?). Then it’s off for the airport via a novice teakwood monastery on stilts for some great photo ops. Late afternoon flight back to Yangon.Very special six course Farewell Dinner @ the elegant, iconic Strand hotel on the riverfront.
Overnight Sule Shangri La Hotel
Mini-retreat check-in at the meditation center is at 1pm with the program beginning soon after. You’ll meet the Master, have a talk, receive instruction and the meditation intensive begins, alternating between sitting and walking. Break for dinner, more meditation, lights out at 11.
Overnight Meditation Center
Sleep-in until 3:30 am and begin meditation at 4:00. Breakfast is followed by a Dharma talk, three more hours of alternating meditation, and the retreat finishes up with a personal interview with the Master. He’ll ask you about your meditation experience at the center and offer insight for further advancement.Then it will be time say goodbye to those who have chosen to extend their retreat for as many days as they choose. (10 days is highly recommended, and retreat cost is donation based).For the rest, well, it’s departure day. Whether extending your trip in Myanmar or heading onward, we will get you to your hotel or to the airport on time for a fond farewell. Depart Yangon far “richer” than when you arrived 10 days ago, feeling newly befriended, spiritually inspired, rejuvenated and revivified! You’ll miss this place!
Price: USD $4695
14 persons maximum
Single supplement: $900
Balloons over Bagan option – $310
Support Guide – Frankie Naing
Logistics – Team Luminous
Program Director – Soe Soe Lwin
Design Adviser – Beth Kanji Goldring
All Luxury + Meditation Accommodation
All in-country airfare, tax, air porter fees
All entrance and zone fees
All tour transport (airport welcome and send-off)
All Meals except arrival/departure days
Bottled water on all excursions
English speaking meditation guide plus local experts
Donations to monasteries/meditation centers
Donations to Luminous Giving Charities
– international airfare
– trip/medical insurance
– medical needs
– tips for guides, drivers
or hotel porters
– any private transportation
– extra drinks
– snacks or personal purchases
– visa fee
– camera fees
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Airport Greet/Farewell & Assistance
Luminous Journeys Shan Shoulder Bag
Burmese Meditation Beads
Balloons over Bagan
Burmese Massage & Spa
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