Dharana Meditation and Retreat Center in Phuket

In this article I am answering (I hope) every possible question about your upcoming Retreat with us. This will greatly help with your preparation and organization. You can find everything from arrival and departure tips up to recommended reading material and vaccination information. This should help heaps with your preparation. But hey, if you can't find the stuff you are looking for feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help.

 

Questions about Preparation

When and where will the retreat start?

Please be at Coco Retreat on the Monday of your chosen arrival date between 3:30pm - 4:30pm for Parn to register you for the Retreat. The introductory teaching is at 5pm on Monday.

How can I confirm my reservation?

You can confirm your reservation by answering to the mail we have sent you. You can confirm by letting us know at which accommodation you will stay during the retreat. You have to book the accommodation by yourself - it's not included in the program. If you haven't received any mail from us even 24 hours after you've made your reservation, please contact us directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through the contact form

What can I study to help me prepare?

It is not really necessary to prepare yourself in any way. However if you do have some time and want to prepare yourself a little bit before you come, have a look at our Book Recommendations. We particularly recommend you to have a look at the following books: "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" - By Ajahn Brahm, "The Sound of Silence" - by Ajahn Sumedho as well as the "Power of Now" or "A New Earth" by Eckard Tolle.
If you want to get a bit of an idea of the teaching style, listen to some of our audio recordings of the weekly teachings here in Phuket - or simply read through our blog. If you are a fan of guided Meditations, you can try out the meditation technique we are cultivating on retreat. The specific techniques are found right here in this playlist.
If you use facebook, come and visit us on our Facebook Page to get some regular inspirations and updates. And finally you can also have a look through some of our Youtube clips to get to know what we do here in Phuket and receive a few teachings as well.

Phew - that's a lot of stuff right there, isn't it ;) It should definitely help! However if you still have some specific questions you can't find answered on here, please feel free to contact us directly.

Do I need to bring Yoga mats or cushions?

No, we provide all of that. We give you clean Yoga mats, good cushions and even folding chairs. Yes, that's just how awseome we are! But if you have your own Yoga mat or your favorite cushion you can bring it along of course.

How can I get to the location everyday?

We do the retreat program at Coco Retreat. You can either stay close by in walking distance (check out our recommended accommodation options). If you stay somewhere else or have your own home, you are responsible for the transport. You need to be at Coco Retreat every morning at 6am. Morning Excursion and Breakfast last until about 10:30am. Then you can either stay at Coco Retreat or you can go back to your place. You need to be there again for Yoga at 3:30pm (should your program include Yoga) or at 5pm for Question and Answer Session. You can go back to your place after dinner at about 7pm or earlier if your program doesn't include dinner.
Check out the daily timetable to get an overview.

You can rent your own scooter (if you feel confident to ride it in Phuket) or your car. There's also places where you can rent bicycles. I am sure that your accommodation will also help you with this - it's always the first option to ask for help concerning renting vehicles around here. But please know that you are responsible for your own transport if you have chosen to stay somewhere other than the resorts listed here on our accommodation page.

Is it safe to travel in Phuket?

We can wholeheartedly say that Phuket has a good infrastructure. You get everything you want around here. Transport is easy and accessible, people are friendly and ready to help and hospitals are good as well. So in general you can say that Phuket is safe for any regular tourist. People who tend to have trouble are those who behave in immature and dangerous ways, disregard warnings, get extremely drunk, drugged or involved in dodgy and criminal activities. In all the time we did the retreats here we have never had any problematic incidents. All our guests so far have really enjoyed the island. Responsible traveling is important of course. And as always in life - there's no guarantee that "something doesn't happen" to us when traveling or even back at home. There's always a basic risk but if you follow common sense you should be just fine in Phuket.

What are the seasons like?

There's no doubt that every season is great for a Meditation Retreat. The weather is not crucial for a Meditation Retreat to work out well and the retreats are great independently of the weather. However if you are curious, we recommend to have a look at a local Website describing the seasons every year. Here you go: Phuket.net (Seasons Throughout the Year)

Do I need vaccination?

You might want to get some vaccinations if you travel into a tropical country. We recommend you to seek advise from your doctor concerning this topic. There's also a lot of good information about vaccinations concerning Thailand on here: TMB (Tropical Medical Bureau)

Is this retreat a religious retreat?

Even though the background of our teacher Tobi is in Tibetan and Thai Buddhist Traditions, the retreat itself is non-religious and non-sectarian. The emphasis is on practical mind-training in day to day life. We train the mind to become energized and we train to let go of suffering, tension and stress. This is very practical stuff and everybody is welcome here. No matter your religion or your belief-systems - you are most welcome to join. We are not asking you to believe in anything or adopt another viewpoint.

What we teach here has nothing to do with beliefs or opinions. It's about how to direct the mind so you can be happier and suffer less. You can see our retreat a bit like a cooking class. We teach you how to bake a delicious cake that tastes great. And then you can eat the cake with your friends. Everybody loves cake, regardless of their religious beliefs. In a similar way, everybody loves happiness and wants to end suffering - regardless of their religious beliefs.

When does the retreat end

The Retreats end every Friday at 11am. You can check our schedule for a very complete time-structure of our retreats. This way you will have a clear idea of when the retreats begin and when they end.

I need to work online everyday. Is this possible?

Yes of course. You can work online during the retreat but we recommend to structure your work extra-well. If you have a lot of work and spend most of your time on the computer you will not benefit much from the retreat. It would be ideal if you can reduce your work to a bare minimum and completely cut away everything that is not necessary. So even though it is possible to work online, we encourage you to reflect on how you can reduce it to the bare necessity. During the retreat, introspection and rest is of crucial importance. If your lifestyle isn't simplified enough during the retreat, our program will not be qualified to be called "retreat". If you like, you can let us know and ask for help on how to manage your workload best during the retreats. Contact Us.

Are airport transfers included?

Currently they are not included. Your chosen accommodation should be able to organize transport for you. Also, at Phuket Airport it's very easy to find the right Taxi. If you come by yourself, here's a tip: The local taxi drivers are not using addresses. They need your hotel's name and phone number. They call and ask the hotel for directions. That's how it works best around here ;)

Do I need special clothes?

The answer to this question is: Not really. You should bring comfortable clothes. Like loose training clothes that make it easy to sit cross-legged for example. As we are in Thailand, following a certain local dress-code is a good idea as well. Thais generally don't like overly sexy or revealing clothes. Clothes such as miniskirts, hotpants, tanktops, revealing tops and clothes designed to elicit sexual desire are considereed inappropriate for a meditation retreat. We also visit temples during the morning excursion and following an appropriate dresscode is highly recommended. Colors are not that important. However, if you feel that colors matter to you personally, we recommend white or bright colors.

When it comes to shoes, flip flops, sandals or comfortable training shoes for hot weather are just fine. High heels, bare feet or firm mountaineering-boots are not a good idea during the retreat :)

Where should I stay during the retreat?

If you haven't chosen your accommodation yet, please have a look at our page where we show you the accommodation that's nearby. The page is here: Accommodation. All the resorts/hotels that are listed there are in walking distance. We currently do the program at Coco Retreat Resort & Spa. If you stay a bit further away, you are responsible for your own transportation. You can rent scooters, bicycles and cars everywhere around the area.

What should I leave at home?

There are a few things you should leave at home. Weapons and illegal substances are not welcome at all! Posession is punished severely in Thailand. The consumption of Alcohol is not welcome or encouraged at the retreat and during the entire program. Smoking is permitted, however please don't smoke during the classes or when together with other members of the group.

What should I bring?

We recommend you to bring a few things to the retreats that might help you to have a more complete experience. Here's a little list:

A hat to protect you from the sun. You can find them in Phuket in case you need to buy one.
Sunscreen is recommended (SPF 30 - SPF 50 is recommended). You can buy these in Phuket as well.
A camera to make pictures during the morning excursions.
Something to protect you from wind and rain in case it rains or is a bit colder.
A little diary and a nice pen to take notes.
A natural mosquitospray is not a bad idea as well. You can get them in Phuket, too.

What's the best time to arrive?

The registration is every Monday between 3:30pm - 4:30pm. We recommend you to arrive at your chosen accommodation at least an hour before the registration begins. However we have found that it's best to arrive a day early if you can. That way you can relax and settle down a bit before the retreat begins. If you come from far away we would recommend you to arrive at least as many days before the retreat as it takes to overcome your jetlag (that's one day per hour of time-difference). This gives you also the opportunity to explore the island before you turn within. In short, there are three good options:

1. Arrive at least 1 hour before registration begins.
2. Arrive a day before the retreat begins.
3. Arrive as early as you can and rest thoroughly before you do the retreat.


 

Questions about Entertainment

Im thirsty. Is alcohol allowed?

During the retreat absolutely not! Drinking alcohol (anything that contains alcohol) for recreational purpose is strongly discouraged. It will not help with Meditation practice and we ask you to respectfully follow this rule while being on retreat.

What activities do you offer?

You can have a look at our schedule to see what we do every day. The programs are perfectly balanced to create a profound experience on many levels. We have daily excursions, Yoga classes, meals together, private tuition and live guided meditation classes. It's a very immersive week. Any more activities and it will be counterproductive ;)

Can I do tours and excursions while on retreat?

We are not holding you back but if you are looking for a lot of activity we would encourage you strongly to reconsider doing a retreat with us. A meditation retreat should be a time of exploring inner space. If you are touring around during the day (check the schedule) you will have a very hard time to settle down and benefit from the experience. We have wonderful morning excursions every day. Our program is structured in a way that will help you to unwind, rest and find some inner peace. We strongly recommend to come only if you are ready to become calm, restful and centered. If you want to do a lot of activities, tours, entertainment etc. - you will not benefit much from what we offer. If you would like to explore the island, it's usually best to arrive early and explore before the retreat starts so you can fully enjoy our program without being overly busy and active.

I can't live without being connected to the internet. Is there WiFi?

Yes there is - and it's OK if you absolutely have to do some work. But before you log on to the internet for entertainment purposes, it's important to know that the retreat is all about logging on to yourself. It's a great time for introspection, mental and physical rest. A meditation retreat is about switching off and coming back to yourself. If you want to get the most out of this retreat we definitely recommend you to turn off everything that isn't relevant to your being. If you feel that you absolutely can't do without your device and social media for four days, we would not recommend doing the retreat. And hey - it's not hard at all to be without the internet for four days. You won't believe how many people feel that they can't exist without being constantly entertained. But trust me, you will actually love it! I see people wake back up to the beauty of "life beyond a little screen" every week and it's awesome! ;)

Can I read books during the retreat?

It's possible but not encouraged. You can read before and after, but a retreat is a time in which it's all about being with yourself fully. It's four days in which you are encouraged to taste meditation instead of reading about it. It's about experience, not theory. This program in itself is a unique opportunity to go deep into the taste of real meditation practice, build experience and receive authentic guidance from an experienced teacher. After the retreat we do offer extensive aftercare and also recommend specific reading materials. During the retreat however it's all about you, and it's impossible to find yourself within a book ;)


 

Questions about Medical Conditions

I am not sure if my condition allows me to join

In case you are not sure whether you can join our retreat or don't find the right answer anywhere on this page, please simply contact us and ask. We are always happy to help you out with your questions.

I can't sit cross-legged due to a medical condition

We do have folding chairs at the retreat as well and you can take them along everywhere, so sitting cross-legged is not mandatory at all. It's something else if you can't walk at all or only on crutches. Then we recommend to wait with the retreat until you can walk and your legs are fine again.

Is this Retreat wheelchair friendly?

Unfortunately we have to say that our retreat program is currently not working out if you are in a wheelchair. We do excursions every day and the accommodation around the isn't wheelchair ready as well. You could however see if you can join our free Meditation classes each week. These are accessible for wheelchairs and you are always welcome to join.

I suffer from mental illness. Can I participate?

This depends very much on your level of stability. We can't allow you to participate if you are heavily suizidal, depressed, schizophrenic or suffer from severe trauma, extreme insomnia etc... So if you have a severe condition, a retreat is not a good thing to do. If you suffer from a less severe condition, we will have to interview you before the retreat to see if participation works out. In any case it's important to let us know about any mental illness you suffer from and if it could create hardship for you during the retreat. There are people with diagnosed psychological disorders who can still benefit greatly from a meditation retreat. So please contact us and let us know if you have any doubts.

Can I receive special food?

We are always ready to serve you according to your medical condition and we will try our very best to help you. We do offer wonderful Thai vegetarian food throughout the retreat (see more information about meals). The meals are fantastic but it might be the case that you need special attention. So please mention any allergies or special needs when we are registering you for the retreat.


 

Questions about the Retreats

How many people are in each group?

Our group size is limited to 10 people each week. This allows for optimal progress of each individual, a cosy atmosphere and an intensive learning environment. It is our sincere wish that those who come get the most out of this retreat. This is only possible if everybody receives appropriate attention from our teacher. We believe that this sort of direct attention quickly gets lost when the groups get bigger. We offer the possibility of private tuition to each of our guests and this is only possible with small goups. This is most probably one of the main reasons why we had such great success with almost all of our participants so far.

Will there be any aftercare?

Yes, we provide extensive aftercare. We publish weekly videos, there is email care, there are online groups and weekly audio-teachings as well as a regular blog. All the aftercare lives from the questions of all the students who have been at the retreat. Every student is signed up to an online study program which is updated every week - this is part of what we offer at the retreats. So you will be taken care of as extensively as you need :)

Is the Yoga suitable for beginners?

Yes, absolutely! Anyone can join. Due to our small group size (max. 10 people), our teacher can respect your level and help you progress. Everybody can benefit from the classes.

Will there be Yoga?

Yes, there will be Yoga if you booked the program that includes Yoga. Yoga classes are offered daily at 03:30pm - 04:30pm. You can read through some of the information about Yoga and look at our schedule to see when the classes are on. If you would like to join Yoga classes or if Yoga is included in your program, you should bring comfortable clothes suitable for Yoga. We provide you with clean mats and Yoga blocks. If Yoga is not included in your program you can still join the classes for 350 THB (this includes a fresh coconut at the end of the class - yummy!).

Are there any rules?

We do have some little rules & recommendations to make sure that the retreat runs well. I will list them below:

1. Intoxicants (incl. alcohol) and weapons are forbidden.
2. We don't encourage the use of entertainment devices
3. We don't encourage mindless distraction in all forms
4. We recommend abstaining from all sexual activity
5. We recommend practicing mindfulness in all situations

We are not enforcing most of these rules (except for #1 and #2) but we will recommend to follow them as it will help with Meditation practice. The main driving factor of our program is not rules and regulations, but your sense of purpose and your motivation. So instead of making you follow our rules, we will help you to access the force that pulls you towards meditation. We found that this helps more people with the "transition" from retreat into normal life. It also helps them to stay more consistent on the path of meditation. So the idea is not to do it because you "have to do it" or because "the rule said so".The idea is to meditate because you see the point of it clearly and simply enjoy it ;)

Why do you host the Retreats, Tobi and Parn?

Both of us love Meditation, we are passionate about it! To be honest, we can't imagine doing anything else, it's just too much fun. Helping others to discover the power of a well-trained mind is awesome! It's a beautiful thing to contribute to happiness, wellbeing, joy and freedom from stress, suffering and problems. We do these retreats because they help us and you to discover what truly matters in life. If we would die today, we would know that what we did was beautiful, honest and helpful. That's what moves us to spend time with you and guide you from mindblow to mindblow ;)

Is this a silent retreat?

No, it's not. This retreat offers you the choice how deep you want to go and silence is an option, it's not enforced. Should you choose to stay in silence you can do so for a few hours, for a day or two, or for the whole week. We will give everyone a card that says "in silence". Wearing it will keep conversations at bay. You are free to play with silence at your own pace.

How do I get the most out of this program?

That's simple. Listen to the teacher with clear attention and do precisely what we recommend ;) We make recommendations from experience - we listen to your feedback, observe what works best and try it ourselves. One of the biggest "boosters" is turning off all entertainment devices for four days. If you do the practice well and listen to our recommenndations and suggestions you'll be making a lot of progress! And one thing should be mentioned: The biggest factor is motivation/a sense of purpose! It all depends on what moves you and how strong this movement within your heart is.

Will I get a certificate?

No, we don't hand out certificates. The journey leading to qualification is through relying on a teacher and doing the meditation earnestly until powerful results manifest. We encourage you to walk this path and offer all the help you need. If you show honesty, consistency, good motivation and hard work, over time you might find your place teaching others. That's when you can receive an official permission to teach others.

What will I learn during the retreat?

Within these four days you will learn the following things among others:

01. How to cultivate mental energy and clarity
02. How to find balance and happiness
03. How to find a new purpose and direction in life
04. How to let go of past guilt and regrets
05. How to let go of anxiety and fear concerning the future
06. How to be present, calm and centered in all situations
07. How to meditate properly
08. How to integrate meditation into daily life
09. How to get to know yourself on a deeper level
10. Classic Breathing Meditation
11. Meditation to cultivate Kindness and Compassion
12. Powerful Techniques that Raise Consciousness

In short, you will learn how to cultivate happiness and how to let go of suffering. We will provide you with guidance, private tuition and learning materials. The retreat is very practical and you are encouraged to apply the techniques in all situations that arise. Being with an experienced teacher helps this process to be speedy and powerful. At the end of the four days you can expect clarity concerning meditation, experience and the skills to apply the technique at all times!

Is this retreat good for beginners?

Absolutely! It's ideal for beginners. I would highly recommend it to those who have no or very little experience with Meditation practice. But this doesn't exclude those who have more experience. In fact, due to the unique structure featuring small group-sizes, lots of private tuition and guidance, all levels can greatly benefit from the retreats. We had guests with all kinds of backgrounds and they all took some lifechanging gems away.

What's the Schedule like?

Our Retreats start every Monday and you can find all our upcoming retreats here: Upcoming Retreats. Registration is between 3:30 and 4:30, the introduction is at 5pm. The Retreat ends on Fridays at 11am. If you want to have a look at a complete timetable outlining all four retreat days, you can find it here: Daily Schedule