Extreme Meditation to test the resolve and tenacity of your brain

  • Sanjay went for a meditation retreat in the Changla mountains of Ladakh. He shares his  experience.

A few years ago donned my Ladhaki robes and went to off to a secretive meditative retreat only for very advanced monks behind the Changla mountains in Ladakh. Location can’t be revealed. Only advanced people are allowed if the head monk Is convinced you will last the extreme.


Visitors are not welcome. If by fluke you are lucky to find the location. 

Our retreat location in the midst of nowhere.A long shot view of our retreat location.

Monks come here to meditate 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Talking is absolutely banned. If they say a single word by mistake, They have to start the entire 3 years etc meditation again.


Only two monks who cook for the other monks could speak. I was a short termer-a month. So I spoke. But, you are down to perhaps 2 or 3 sentences a day. The rest of the time you are alone in your room meditating.


Temperature -20 degree C. 

Altitude 18,000 odd feet. It is higher than Everest base camp. The altitude is close to Everest advance camp C 1, ahead of base camp.


No electricity and kerosene lamps. Water is always frozen. You need to ask the two helpers for hot water in a flask. If possible ask only through gestures. 

Snow in the mountain behind us. 

The time I enjoyed the most was outside after meditation i.e. past midnight in minus 20. Who wants to sit in a frozen room when the entire universe is above you shining with trillions of stars (no moon, a mountain range blocked it. The stars are so bright that it casts shadows). There is not much atmosphere left so every micro milimeter of the sky is lit by stars in all colours. I was told it was dangerous. But it was worth dying looking at the stars as far as I was concerned. 


Fate favours the insane. I did not die though I nearly did. I was finally taken off the mountain. When you are insanely determined and death does not scare you (or stupidity) Fate favours you. Nothing on earth compares with the experience. All other monks meditated inside the monastery 

Me in robes. 

The question arose, why this torture of the body apart from a similar excitement to a bungee jump to prove to the ego that you can do it. Esp. if you have done it a few lifetimes.


The worst challenge is to live in this chaotic world messed up in Maya and all sorts of mental afflictions yet maintain your sanity and purpose. 


Running and sitting in a remote mountain or a cave is easy. Almost Beautifuuuuuuul!!!!


The challenge is sitting in the midst of a battlefield called life and knowing your purpose and fulfilling your chosen householder life. Yet being aware of the beyond is the final test, inside and outside. The monk only fights battles inside. He is isolated on the outside. 


And then you do have your guru to wrap you on your knuckles. “Having fun sitting in the Himalayas? Who is supposed to take care of your responsibilities” was the rap on the knuckle. 


It’s been some time. The itch is starting again. Who knows…..,. Mountains and caves!


Just normal life is the hardest. Being here and there is double trouble. 


In the photos, my room was on the extreme right with the blue window. The head monk gave me his room as he was on tour.

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