Lessons Learned from a Buddhist Temple Stay

If you remember from one of my former posts, my school took us to a Buddhist temple to experience a temple stay back in June. 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, but 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).

  • 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 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.

  • Temple bows are not a joke.

Someone told me that some people do temple bows as a form of exercise…

  • 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.


  • 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 my favorite part of any yoga class I’ve taken. However, I cannot meditate at 5 a.m. after temple bows and before breakfast. And for longer than 15 minutes.

  • 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…

  • 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.

Naesosa Temple Area

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

We had some of the healthiest 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 to feel satisfied. Moderation is much better for me than a totally clean lifestyle. Maybe I’ll get better with this as I age?

  • 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.

Naesosa Temple Quarters

If you’d like to learn more, here is my post on experiencing a temple stay.

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

Lessons Learned from a Buddhist Temple Stay

Words and Photographs By Samantha


  1. January 27, 2016 / 9:40 am

    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!


    • January 27, 2016 / 7:38 pm

      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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