While you may not be religious in any aspects, experiencing a Buddhist temple stay will still provide you both an interesting experience and life lessons.

If you remember from one of my former posts, my school took us to a Buddhist temple called Naesosa to experience a temple stay one June weekend. While it was an awesome experience, I don’t know that I’d do it again. I loved being able to experience a monk’s life and I do think it’s one of the cool things to do in Korea. However, as someone who barely has enough discipline to not eat chocolate everyday, I would probably not make a good monk or be particularly happy.

Anyhow, I did learn some interesting life lessons during my Buddhist temple stay, and they’re lessons I’d like to take into my everyday life (especially the first one).

8 Lessons Learned at a Buddhist Temple Stay


1. Even the smallest fleck of pepper has importance.

For breakfast, we experienced a monk’s meal. It is a very ceremonial type of meal, and one of the important parts is the end when we clean our bowls with a piece of radish and water, which we then drink and eat.

As our monk explained, we should not turn our noses at drinking water or eating something that has cleaned up the food we have eaten. Even the smallest piece of food, grain of salt, or fleck of pepper is significant in our nutrition, and should be consumed as such. It’s an interesting take as now I find myself being a bit more conscious of not wasting food, even when it does seem like I’ve eaten everything.

2. Temple bows are not a joke.

Every morning, monks do 108 bows. This isn’t just a simple bow, where you hinge at the waist. No, it’s a whole process, and I heard some people do it for exercise! We only did a few at our stay, and I was tired after doing the first five. Don’t be surprised if your monk turns out a lot stronger than he or she looks!

3. If everyone wore monks’ pants regularly, the world would be a much happier place

These are actually the greatest, most comfortable pants I think I’ve ever worn!

4. Mediation is only lovely if you’re in the right mindset for it.

I love to meditate. I love to lay in bed before I fall asleep and consciously meditate for a few minutes. It’s always been my favorite part of any yoga class I’ve taken. However, I cannot meditate at 5 a.m. after temple bows and before breakfast. Nor do I think I have the discipline to meditate for longer than 15 minutes…

5. A monk’s life is peaceful but not necessarily relaxing.

From what we learned at our temple stay, a monk’s life while peaceful (living among the mountains, moving at a slower pace than the bali-bali Korean world), it’s not exactly as relaxing as, say, laying on a beach for a day. I don’t know how anyone could spin 4 a.m. wake-up calls into relaxing because it’s not, which brings me to my next point…

6. No one should have to wake-up at 4 a.m.

Never. Ever. Ever. I could barely do it to go see Angkor Wat at sunrise, let alone make it a daily part of my routine. This is just cruel.

While you may not be religious in any aspects, experiencing a Buddhist temple stay will still provide you both an interesting experience and life lessons.

7. Eating extremely healthy, while filling, is not satisfying.

We had some of the healthiest Korean meals at our temple stay. Everything was vegetarian and delicious, but I’d be lying if I didn’t want to stuff my face with greasy chicken as soon as we left. I think I ordered hot chocolate at a cafe on our way back to feel satisfied. Moderation is much better for me than a totally clean lifestyle. Maybe I’ll get better with this as I age?

8. Monks really do deserve a lot of admiration and respect.

Their lifestyle is incredibly strict, and it takes a lot of dedication and self-discipline to not only live a monk’s life but to feel fulfilled and content as well. They deserve respect.

Have you done anything like a temple stay? What lessons did you learn?


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  1. I’ve never experienced a temple stay before, but I had a chance to visit a few buddhist temples while I was visiting Korea. It was a very unique experience!

    1. Ah I love visiting different temples in this country, but the temple stay was definitely an interesting experience on its own. We all agreed that we loved it, but we also wouldn’t be able to be that strict with ourselves again haha.

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