5 Easy Buddhist Meditation Techniques For Meak Bochea!

Buddhist Meditation_Meak Bochea Featured Image

Have you ever tried Buddhist meditation? I first gave it a go back in 2020 with a type called Metta or “Loving-Kindness meditation.” It was awesome, and probably one of the reasons I got into meditation more seriously. I later found out that metta comes from Theravada Buddhism and is often practiced during Magha Puja in Cambodia.

Magha Puja, also called Meak Bochea, is a huge Buddhist holiday there that happens on the full moon between February and March. On this special day, Buddhists across Cambodia mob to temples to give donations, pray, and join candlelight marches. Many also use it as a chance to meditate in ways rooted in Buddhist teachings.

Curious? Let’s explore this awesome event and some of the most meaningful Buddhist meditation rituals done by monks in Cambodia. We’ll learn how meditating during Magha Puja sets vibes of loving-kindness. We’ll pick up some related phrases in the Khmer language along the way, too.

Meak Bochea – Festival Of The Monks

Meak Bochea, also known as Magha Puja Day, Meak Bucha, or Makha Bucha Day, marks the day when 1,250 monks gathered spontaneously to hear Lord Buddha deliver key principles of Buddhism. It falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month and will be celebrated this year on February 24th.

This sacred festival is celebrated at temples across Cambodia, especially prominent sites like Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Devotees bring offerings to monks, light candles, circumambulate temples, and meditate together into the evening. Many Cambodians also use this holiday to visit family near and far and perform good deeds.

Buddhist  monks meditating

Meditation has always been central to Buddhist practice as it allows one to pursue enlightenment and inner wisdom. Buddha himself achieved nirvana through intense meditation under the Bodhi tree. Hence, all Buddhist traditions emphasize meditation as vital, be it Theravada Buddhism, which is predominant in Southeast Asia, specifically in countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar, or Mahayana Buddhism in East Asia.

Meditation allows Buddhists to train their minds, pursue ethical living, develop wisdom, and progress spiritually. It helps them move from theoretical knowledge about the Buddha’s teachings to experiential direct knowledge by observing the workings of their own body and mind.

Several meditation techniques are commonly practiced by Cambodians during Meak Bucha celebrations:

1. Mindfulness Meditation – Smaanasaṃmaanti

Mindfulness meditation is the most popular Buddhist meditation practice. One has to concentrate on his or her breath, bodily sensations, or a single object to silence their chattering mind. This eventually builds focus, awareness, and inner peace.

It might seem easy, but bringing your focus to the present moment and keeping at it is quite challenging. It takes regular practice, but once you get into the rhythm, there is nothing quite as blissful as the meditative experience. I can vouch for that!

2. Contemplative Meditation – Vipassana

Contemplative meditation involves the systematic investigation of the nature of reality and the mind. Practitioners examine their thoughts, emotions, and sensory experiences with mindfulness and curiosity, seeking to understand their true nature.

I have been to Vipassana retreats twice till now, and they were some of the best times of my life! Although challenging initially, this practice deepens insight into one’s own being. I had to maintain silence throughout the retreat. But as time went by, I started being comfortable in my own being and could spend longer periods in what could be termed as ‘zoned out’ in the Gen Z lingo.

Photo of the monk's hands - Buddhist Meditation

3. Loving-Kindness Meditation – Metta Bhavana

Also called Metta meditation, this uses mantras and visualizations to cultivate love and compassion for oneself and others. This enhances empathy, forgiveness, and interconnection.

The most popular Buddhist chant for metta meditation is Om Mani Padme Hum. The rhythmic chanting of these sacred syllables invokes blessings, grace, or protection and helps the person go into a tranquil state of mind.

4. Breath Awareness Meditation – Aanaapaanasati

Breath awareness meditation involves focusing attention on the breath as it moves in and out of the body. Practitioners observe the natural rhythm of their breath, bringing their attention back to it whenever the mind wanders.

The most simple way to practice it is to count your inhalation and exhalation. For instance, count one, draw a deep breath while counting to six on your mind, then hold your breath to the count of three, and then exhale to the count of six. Easy!

5. Walking Meditation – Cankamana

Yes, this might sound weird, but walking meditation is a concept. It’s a slow, mindful walking with full awareness of bodily sensations and surroundings.

People focus their attention on the sensations of walking, such as the lifting and placing of the feet, while maintaining awareness of the present moment. It’s often alternated with sitting to facilitate reflection. It’s a great way to integrate mindfulness into everyday activities.

Buddhist monks walking

Cambodian Celebrations During Meak Bucha

Meak Bucha sees temples and shrines across Cambodia flooded with devotees engaging in prayer and meditation. As the full moon rises, here are some common practices:

Mass Gatherings At Temples & Shrines

Thousands congregate at popular Cambodian holy sites like Angkor Wat for prayer ceremonies or attend dharma talks by senior monks. People also go on a candlelight procession and late-night walking meditations.

Offerings & Prayers To Monks

Devotees also line up to offer gifts of food, fruits, flowers, candles, and money to monks in gratitude. They also seek monk’s blessings and meditate to absolve themselves of their karmic debts.

Candlelight Processions

This is the star highlight of Meak Bucha. Cambodian people circumambulate temples carrying flowers, incense, and glowing candles while meditating in unison. This symbolizes spiritual illumination chasing away inner darkness.

Worship Rituals Led By Monks

Monks lead multi-hour meditation and prayer rituals inside temple sanctums as devotees follow in deep contemplation while reflecting on core Buddhist teachings.

Basic Khmer Phrases & Vocabulary

To help travelers and expats living in Cambodia enjoy this festive experience and engage with locals, we are giving some foundational Khmer words and phrases. You can learn many more similar Khmer vocabulary via the Ling app.

Buddhist Religionសាសនា​ព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាSasaṅgha Preah Putthasaṅgha
The Buddhaព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាPreah Putthasaṅgha
Monkព្រះមហាក្សត្រPreah Mohaksat
Dharma (Buddha’s teachings)ព្រះគុណធម៌Preah Kounthéa
Nirvana (Enlightenment)គិរីស្តាយKiri Say
Buddhist Meditationសូណាព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនា Souna Preah Putthasaṅgha
Mindfulnessការប្រាក់សរសើរ Kār Preak Sor Saer
Contemplationគិតស្នាដៃKit Snadai
Concentrationកម្រិតស្នាដៃKamriat Snadai
Meak Bucha Festivalមាឃព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាMeak Preah Putthasaṅgha
Offerings to Monksគិរីបុត្រមមិនបោរKiri Botrom Min Bor
Temple Visitការព្រមានប្រាសាទKār Promean Brasat
Buddhist Ceremonyការអធ្រាត្រព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាKār Atrat Preah Putthasaṅgha
Meditation Retreatបដិទស្រទាប់Botet Srotab
Meditation Altarព្រះស្រោមទំព័រPreah Sraom Tompea
Buddhist Chantingចម្រាញ់ព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាChamreah Preah Putthasaṅgha
Holy Water Blessingស៊ិនទ្រកចាប់ព្រះទឹកSintrork Chap Preah Tok

To Wrap Up

You know, tuning out life’s noise to chant alongside monks or join thousands in candlelit meditation sounds like a moment of precious inner peace. And the fact that Cambodians use Meak Bochea to also free caged creatures shows deep reverence for all lifeforms…now that’s classic gentle Buddhist values!

Want one surefire way to level up that cultural immersion? Download the Ling app for some key Khmer phrases before arriving! When you can chat comfortably with welcoming locals, moments like Meak Bochea glow even brighter. Plus, it never hurts to order street food in Khmer, either!

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