The benefits of a regular meditation practice are widely accepted in society nowadays. Scientists tell us that it can calm the mind, elevate brain function, and give clarity and vividness to present experience. It may help people break unhealthy habits, and it can soothe troubled spirits and lift people’s moods. It reduces stress and chronic pain. It makes people happier, less defensive and more engaged with others.
Spiritual leaders tell us that meditation can do so much more. The ultimate aim of meditation, they say, is to transform ourselves in in order to be better able to transform the world, or, to put it another way, to transform ourselves so we can become better human beings in order to serve others in a wiser and more efficient way. It gives our life the highest possible meaning.
And yet it can be so hard to begin. And even when we have a practice, it can be difficult to maintain the energy and commitment necessary to keep going in a way that is meaningful and nurturing. It’s so easy for our practice to become just another item on our ‘to do’ list, adding to our stress rather than being a relief.
Meditation with others can be a big help – both in setting up a practice that is right for us, and also in keeping the inspiration flowing, and providing useful hints to make the most of our time on the cushion. Or chair. If you want to give it a go, if you have a practice that has become a bit stale, or if you want to share your enthusiasm with others, come along and join this course.
Each session will consist of 2 guided meditations: the first aiming to develop a level of clarity and stillness in the mind, as a basis for observing what is going on in there. The second will be a meditation from the Buddhist Lam Rim, or Gradual Path. These meditations engage our rational minds with a series of topics proven over the millennia to bring about a positive and loving mind. Then there will be time to discuss our thoughts and experience over a cup of tea. Discussion may be about the content of the meditation topic, meditation generally, our own practice – or whatever can help us in our daily meditation and life.
They are particularly recommended as a support for anyone who has always meant to meditate on the Lam Rim, but just can’t seem get around to it on their own. You are not alone! We will be working our way through the main Lam Rim meditation topics as the year progresses.
The sessions will be led by a meditator experienced within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It will be more useful if you attend the whole course, as it follows a structure, but we appreciate that people may not be able to attend each session. Come when you can.