It is early hours of the morning. There is a mist hanging over the valley. The air is brisk and autumnal and there is the scent of charcoal smoke and incense wafting into my room. There is a crisp silence. It is only when I venture out of my room I can hear the gentle chanting of monks as they chant the sutras in the middle hall.
This is the first morning of a mindfulness meditation retreat at Guang Jue Temple near Zaoxi China in Zhejiang province. It is the ideal place to come and find inner peace and spiritual healing within a Buddhist context. Many come here digressing from the tourist track in an attempt to find inner happiness and a couple of days to de-stress.
As I sit on my cushion with several others from different parts of the globe with Guan Yin the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Mercy glancing over me from the main alter I cannot help but wonder about the monks and lay persons who have meditated in this very spot over the centuries finding their own spiritual healing and inner peace in their journey to hopeful enlightenment. Spiritual healing is perhaps misunderstood by many and has too often been equated with New Age Therapies. While these in themselves may have their place we have so often turned our backs on what the mainstream religions have to offer.
Buddhism has its roots firmly in the healing domain. The Buddha is often referred to as the Great Physician. There is also the Medicine Buddha so deeply revered in Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. So Buddhism is a natural place to visit for spiritual healing. The sun rises and there is the sound of birds in the surrounding trees. Soon it will be time to drink green tea and eat noodles for breakfast. After breakfast we discuss and share about mindfulness and healing of our frazzled minds.
Then it is off for a trek into the bamboo forested mountains past small villages. Temple Accommodation has so much to offer not only for the mind but also for immersing oneself into an ancient tradition and culture. Then there is the practical economics of staying cheaply in basic but comfortable accommodation. Temple accommodation is gaining in popularity with Buddhists, seekers and general tourists alike. Spiritual healing through mantra, mindfulness meditation and chanting brings a deep inner peace finding happiness in the simple rhythm of life.