Luang Por Teean and His Dynamic Meditation

“To see our own mind clearly, without being caught up in its movement, to watch thought without trying to do anything with or about it, simply seeing it and letting it go, this is the way to freedom…”
Luang Por Teean (หลวงพ่อเทียน) – To The One That Feels

Luang Por Teean (“Luang Por” means respected father in Thai) developed a mindfulness technique called mahasati (มหาสติ) meditation. ‘Maha’ is an Indian word for ‘great’ and ‘sati’ means ‘mindfulness’ so mahasati means ‘great mindfulness’.

Mahasati is my main meditation practice, and it is what I teach to clients at Hope Rehab. People who are dealing with drug withdrawals can struggle when it comes to focusing on the breath, but the physical movements of this dynamic form of meditation are easy to perform.

Mahasati is the same practice my 7 year-old son learns in school here in Thailand, so it’s an ideal place to start for those of us who have short attention spans. I also like the fact that it is done with the eyes open because this makes it easier to remain mindful afterwards (there is no abrupt switch between the practice and real life).

Here is a video showing the simple movements of mahasati meditation

Practicing mahasati means we develop enough concentration so we can clearly see what is happening in our own minds. The more mindfulness we cultivate like this, the more we can deal with in life.

Luang Por Teean believed striving for deep states of concentration was ultimately a dead-end. He likened it to placing a large boulder on a patch of weeds. While the boulder is in place, the weeds will begin to die, but they will grow back as soon as the boulder is removed. Mahasati is about treating the soil so that the weeds can never grow again.

You can perform dynamic meditation in the lotus position or you can do it sitting in a chair, standing, or even lying down.

Luang Por Teean

Luang Por Teean was born in Loei in 1911. His family were poor so he became a novice for ten years so he could get some type of education. It was during this time that he developed his interest in mediation.

After school, Luang Por began work on the family farm and eventually got married and started his own family. He never lost his interest in meditation, and as he got older, he would attend regular retreats.

It was while at one of these retreats that he experienced a spiritual breakthrough. He had been assigned a certain technique that involved hand movements where he was meant to label each movement, but he got bored with this and started experimenting. He spent the next few hours just with his awareness on the bare movements, and it triggered a profound awakening experience.

Luang Por Teean was so altered by this experience at the retreat that he asked his family’s permission to ordain as a monk. This was granted and he spent the rest of his life teaching his technique to other people.

Luang Por is one of the few (maybe the only) meditation teacher who offered a money-back guarantee. He promised to handover the equivalent of three months wages to those who practiced under his direction for three months and didn’t have an awakening experience.

He died in 1988 but thankfully there are now many monks who continue to spread his teachings.

“Truth is the reality that is latent in everybody, regardless of nationality, language or uniform.”
Luang Por Teean (To the One That Feels)

My First Encounter with Mahasati Meditation

My first encounter with mahasati meditation was back in 2004 at a temple in Hua Hin. This was back when I would turn up half-drunk at temples looking for a solution to my alcohol problem.

I’d arrived in Hua Hin after a month long meditation retreat at Wat Rampoeng in Chaing Mai. It was such a positive experience that I decided it would be safe to drink again afterwards. Bad mistake. The fact I’d tasted mental freedom during the retreat made the suffering of addiction even more unbearable.

It was during one of my drunken temple visits in Hua Hin that I met this monk who took pity on me and tried to teach me the meditation technique of Luang Por Teean. I visited a few times and at the end of each visit he would ask me to return sober the next day. I never did so my drunken meditation lessons didn’t progress very well.

The other reason I didn’t benefit much from this early exposure to mahasati meditation was my drunken arrogance. I saw dynamic meditation as too bizarre and a bit beneath me. I wanted to experience jhanas (altered states of consciousness) again, and I couldn’t see how waving my hands around would make that happen.

I love the way life regularly makes me eat my words. I can now see that mahasati is the perfect practice for me. It is a bit of pity I didn’t make better use of my time with those monks who tried to teach me it.

Useful Resources

Wat Sanamnai
Documentary about Luang Por Teean (YouTube) –Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part 6 Part 7

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20 thoughts on “Luang Por Teean and His Dynamic Meditation

  1. This is really interesting, and I can see how this could be helpful for people who have trouble paying attention. I’m a teacher, and there are a certain number of kids who always need to be playing with something in their hands (especially kids with attention problems, who claim the fooling around with their hands helps them to pay attention). I bet these people would do very well with the sort of meditation you’ve described. I’m glad you provided a link, and I plan to check it out. Thank you for writing about this.

  2. I’m not surprised this type of meditation can be effective as anything that allows you to still your mind is a good meditation. Is it similar in some ways to Tai Chi, another active meditation? I get the impression that the movements in Mahasati are much smaller than those of Tai Chi.

    1. Hi Steve, the movements are very slight and repetative. It works in a similar way as waliking meditation that is used in some of the other temples; where the mind is focused on the very small movements of the feet. I also like to think of Tai Chi as a form of meditation.

  3. wonderful. keep going. absolutely just observe, until all thought becomes observable as they arise.

    practice observing all five senses in the same way you observe your arm movements, or feet with walking meditation. the longer time spent in wipassana, the sooner the streaming consciousness will break. observe your feet as you walk around the supermarket. observe your hearing in the morning chorus. just observe. it’s the time spent observing that accelerates the process, until the Soul and body separate. that’s insight, liberation. good luck

    Wat sanamnai is very beautiful.

  4. With respect,

    It would be great to find out more about Luang Por’s teachings and courses in Thailand.

    Thank you,

    Des (known as Daisha in Thailand)

    1. come to Thailand. bring light white trousers and a shirt. go to the wat, sanam nai, give your details at reception. take the key and move into your temporary accommodation, a single room. you can get a pillow and blanket from the main dharma hall.

      awake 3:30 when the drum goes off, and from there, follow the wats guidelines for attending mediation and meals.

      the mediation itself takes minutes to explain and many hours to master. enjoy.

  5. Hi great post.
    While it obviously draws from the Tipitaka… do they explicitly state the Mahasatipatthana sutta or the Kayagati sutta as their base ?

  6. There is a great old 87 year old monk who is one of the most well known teachers of this in Krabi. He often teaches at Wat Sanamnai. Luangpor Somboon is an enlightened monk who can show you this way. You have to be prepared to get off your arse, and not just sleep your way through a meditation retreat but do a lot of walking meditation and cleaning the temple grounds from dawn to dusk but it really works. I have been practicing this approach for a few years now and it’s totally transformed my life. May you all be liberated in this lifetime.

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