A lot has happened over this weekend and it’s fair to say that it’s been a busy one. I can remember leaving work, arriving home with my food shopping and sitting down at my laptop to relax for the first time in almost a week; as if that was only yesterday… Another week is about to begin (for some, that’s already started) and I’m finding it hard to keep you all updated with my latest endeavours. Instead of starting in chronological order though, I’m going to begin by sharing my Saturday morning experience of a Buddhist Meditation!
(Disclaimer: None of the images used in this post are of my own possession.)
This is something I was invited to by the same walking-friend (yes, most people do walk…) who invites me to folk music gigs on a Friday night and, if not that; it’ll be for a cup of tea somewhere in Bristol. To look at this place from the outside (especially when I was half-expecting a temple); it looks almost like any other shop or store along Gloucester Road. Once you step inside the Bristol Buddhist Centre, you’re greeted by a woman who briefly explains how the session is going to develop, before you’re asked to remove your shoes and leave your other belongings (coat, keys, phone, etc.) near the entrance. From there, we make our way in to the lounge with everyone else in attendance for the day; waiting for the arrival of the… ‘Head-person’ (sorry, I forget her correct title!)
It was then explained to us that we would be taking part in three separate meditations for this three-hour session (10am until 1pm).
First, was a meditation on mindfulness, which is something many other bloggers and mental-health activists seem to practice, or preach at the very least. This was partly to do with focusing on our breathing; the intake and exhaling of air; how it affects our bodies and ‘noticing’ these subtle changes and distractions from the chaos of our minds (it was very similar to the guided meditations I was taught through counselling, but for an extended period and, sitting on the floor).
They do teach and show you a couple of different ways to kneel or sit and they provide all the cushions and mats you may need. If you’re still struggling, you can even bring a chair in to the shrine room (beyond the meeting lounge) and the ‘leaders’ walk around to check the comfort of each individual. Because, if you’re not comfortable sitting or kneeling for an extended period of time then, each meditation is only going to focus on the areas of pain and you won’t benefit as much.
Second on the list was a walking meditation – one of our favourite past-times combined with something we were both curious about! I found this one difficult (again, twenty minutes long) because I was still nursing a foot injury (strained tendon) from last Sunday’s walk. Again, it’s about noticing the way our feet interact with the ground and whether our breath travels upwards, from the roots of our bodies… It’s certainly one I’d like to try again when I’m less-injured; perhaps not something I would practice at home.
After that, we had a break in the lounge with tea and biscuits. Various types of tea with either soya milk or the regular ‘juice’ from a cow. Biscuits were available with or without chocolate and there was plenty to go around.
Our final meditation for the day was on kindness and basically loving ourselves. I can’t remember much about this but we had to send ‘well wishes’ to several people in our lives, including ourselves.
There’s no fee to pay for one of these sessions and the one that I attended typically happens on the third Saturday of every month. They do ask for a donation (as the centre is only run by volunteers, without any external or associated funding) and I met them halfway between their recommended amounts (also not forgetting to fill in a small slip with my details so that they could reclaim the tax to be paid). From the regulars to a group like this, you get a sense of inner peace and tranquillity within their minds; their faces and expressions are different somehow… They’re not doped-up hippies but they’ve discovered beauty within life and perhaps also themselves. I remember feeling distinctly calm as I left the centre, even though the bustle of a busy street in Bristol tried to change that (not to mention almost reversing hard in to the car behind me!!).
They run evening sessions on a weekly basis and they do other courses that involve yoga. I’ll be going again sometime but I also see this as a way in to meditation without referencing to someone from my past (a counsellor).
There’s no effort made to try and convert you to accepting their religion and faith. However, if I do ever decide to step away from my choice of Atheism then, it will be in favour of Buddhism; I’m quite certain of that.
- Some Modern Meditation Types (miraculousendeavors.org)
- Using Buddhist Meditation to Combat Stress (meditateni.org)
- You Don’t Need a Guru: learn how to meditate and take responsibility for your life (prweb.com)
- Fear is the Enemy of Love (leadershipcoachdc.wordpress.com)
- Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? (theatlantic.com)
- The Fundamentals Of Meditation (miraculousendeavors.org)
- Tips & Tricks for Meditation (franniebobanie.wordpress.com)
- Meditation is to be still (zenflash.wordpress.com)
- Practising mindfulness and meditation (realrest.wordpress.com)
- The blank sheet (mindfulbalance.org)