It was interesting learning how to live like a monk but I don't think my body would allow me to do it for more than 24 hours. The language barrier was quite a problem as the monk only spoke Korean so I didn't learn or get as much out of the experience as I was hoping. Much of the time we, the six english speaking people of a group of about thirty, mimicjed the actions and prayers that the others were doing but knew little to the significance of the actions. Nearly two thirds of the experience felt like it was in the meditation pose of legs crossed. I don't think I ever sat in that position for that amount of time in one day when I was a kid with good knees let alone as an adult with a sore knee.
Meals consisted of rice, pickled vegetables, soup and of course kimchi. There was little flavor to the meals but food is food and that was the point for me just to simply appreciate the fact that we had food. There was a special routine for taking the bowls and spoons out of their neatly wrapped set. Eating time was completely silent and in fact while eating, we had to cover our mouths with the bowl so the monks on the other side of the room could not see our eating. We were separated into two groups lined up facing each other about seven feet away from each other with our lead monk eating at the front of the room as a teacher would give a direct instruction. All participants must have food before anyone began eating and we sang a chant something along the lines of this:
I am ashamed to eat this, but I will eat it to try and enlighten me.
Sleeping proved to be difficult as there was a clock in our room that continuously made an extremely loud tick tock sound all night. I might have got an hour sleep in total. The worst part was that we had to be up by 3:30am to do the morning routine. The morning routine consisted of 108 bows which essentially is 108 squats or burpees without the jumping.
After all this, I am still happy to have experienced this as it gave me a good idea to see how the monks live. Once I started understanding the routines of how they pray, I was able to escape in my own mind and try to meditate and think about my life. There is a lot of things that I am grateful for!