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British School of Meditation Blog

British School of Meditation Blog

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Welcome to the British School of Meditation blog on Meditation Teacher Training


Can Meditation reverse the ageing process?

Michelle Roberts Health Editor for BBC News online has written an excellent article (see link below), she looks at a small trial which was run by the University of California by Prof Dean Ornish.

The study looked at 35 men with low risk  prostrate cancer. The group was divided up, 10 men followed a vegetarian diet and stuck to a recommended timetable of exercise and meditation and yoga.  It was found that after 5 years that in these 10 men their telomere length had increased by an average of 10%, whereas the 25 men who were not following this regime their telomeres had shortened by an average of 3%.

What are telomeres?   They are a protective cap at the end of our chromosomes , their role is to safeguard the end of the chromosome and to prevent the loss of genetic information during cell division.  As we age and our cells divide, our telomeres get shorter, their structural integrity weakens, which may stop cells dividing and die.  It is thought that shorter telomeres are associated with age relating diseases.

Prof Ornish says’ The implications of this relatively small pilot study may go beyond men with prostate cancer. If validated by large-scale randomised controlled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases and premature mortality.

"Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate."

It is important to point out that this was a small trial, and it would be interesting to see the results of a larger trial.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24111357

Helen Galpin

Silent Retreat

Silent Retreat

 August 2013

This year my silent retreat was at St. Beuno’s in North Wales. www.beunos.com

Going on retreat has become an essential part of my spiritual practice and I now go on one at least twice a year.

 We live in a noisy, 24/7 world, under pressure to respond almost instantly to texts and emails, to keep up to date with our Facebook postings, and join other social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn. There is a 24 hour news cycle with constant updates so that we can know what is going on anywhere in the world by looking at Google or at an app on our Smartphone.

For me the opportunity to get away from this has become really important. I work from home so my work computer is in my home office. I have been to lots of different places on retreat and have come to appreciate deep silence while on away. Just getting away from home and the office gives me an opportunity to recharge my batteries and reconnect with my spirituality.

St. Beuno’s is a spirituality centre set in beautiful countryside, not far from Rhyl. The grounds are lovely and there are plenty of walks you can go on in the local area. The centre itself is a calm and tranquil place and you feel your cares and worries beginning to drop away from you as you are welcomed at the front door.

Silence begins on the first evening after dinner and a short meeting to go through ground rules. Silence is maintained then until breakfast on the final morning. However, everyone is given a spiritual director and you meet with them once a day for forty five minutes. This gives all the retreatants an opportunity to talk through any problems that may have come up coping with being in silence. It is also an opportunity to discuss deeper issues with someone trained to help with discernment.

The time is spent in silence but you are free to do whatever you wish to with your time. The only timetable events are meals and two daily services in the chapel. Attendance at the services is completely voluntary; however, I did find them a lovely way of joining with my fellow retreatants.

I love going to St Beuno's so much that I have already checked out the 2014 list of retreats and am just about to book my next one.  

Meditation and creativity

Hi, All,

Here is a Blog I wrote for Julia McCutchen’s blog and newsletter. It is about meditation and creativity. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.iaccw.com/blog/?p=2219

Long may this lovely weather last. Such a treat to have warm sunshine and a clear, cloudless sky!!

With love,

Mary 

Silent Retreat

On Friday, 16th August I am off to North Wales for a 6 day silent retreat. I am going to St Beuno's which featured in the BBC 2 programme 'The Silence' a few years ago.

Going on a silent retreat is something I have done every year now for a very long time. next year I am going to India! Time spent in absolute silence can be the most healing thing you can do for yourself. I love the experience but do know that it isn't for everyone.  

When I get back I will post a blog telling you about the retreat experience this year. I am hoping for better weather this year! Last year it was cold and rainy, so fingers crossed for some warm sunny weather. 

Happy meditating,

Mary 

Blog

Meditation and Holidays.

I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Cornwall we stayed near St Mawes, the weather was perfect, lovely and sunny but not too hot; the boys had great fun on the beach and were very happy when they were in charge of the barbeque. I had time to catch up with reading, but what I found most difficult was finding a quiet space to meditate.  Now you might think that on holiday you would have loads of time to meditate, but we were staying in our motor caravan so not much private space there.  It would have been difficult to meditate in the bathroom as we were staying on a caravan club site and whilst they have great facilities the shower block isn’t really appropriate and anyway I am sure other campers would not appreciate me in the shower meditating while they were waiting.

So I had to put my thinking cap on to remedy this, I did meditate in a number of different ways.  When we were on the beach, I just sat with my eyes closed, focussing on the sounds of the beach and sea, this was beautiful.  When we were walking along the Fowey River I really tried to focus on my surroundings just looking at the trees and river and the more I did this I became aware of the real beauty of the walk.  I also tried to listen to my footsteps and the noise they made as I walked; I think my family began to wonder what on earth I was up to!   When I was lying in bed there was a branch that I could see though the sky light, and this was a great focus in the morning when I woke up, I would just lie and watch it as it moved in the wind. 

Now I am back home I have slotted back into my usual practice routine, but my meditating experience has been richer because of my holidays.

Happy Holidays

Helen

 Hi

Here is an interesting blog from Eddie McDonald. Eddie trained with the Meditation School in 2012. It is about mindfulness in the workplace. Eddie will be giving a presentation at the next CPD day on November 23rd.  

http://www.beckinridge.com/beckbites.php

Compliments

I was walking behind an elderly couple in the centre of Cheltenham the other day when I overheard this conversation.

The elderly gentleman says ‘I have to say you really do keep yourself fit, you look lovely’ To which the elderly lady replied ‘Thank you but I do try to look after myself’, the reply was ‘Well it really shows’ Now I don’t know if they were married or just good friends, but it made my day (never mind the lady). 

Their conversation set me thinking that we don’t give enough compliments to each other, or give praise. We like to receive compliments so we can be sure other people do too.  It might be a stranger that you meet but you could still give a smile.  Do we tell ourselves that we have done a job well, or if we look in the mirror and tell our reflection that we look good?  I know what I tell my reflection at times and its definitely not complimentary, I am working on this!!!!

This is where Loving Kindness meditation can really help you within your meditation practice, and it really does work, (well, it has for me).  Start be sending yourself loving kindness and then to a good friend and then to a work college and finish with yourself.  Make a point of smiling to at least one stranger a day.  If everyone did this I am sure it would be a better World.

If you want to know more about Loving Kindness read one of Sharon Salzburg’s books.

Helen

Singing Bowls

An Afternoon spent at Sound Travels.

Mary and I spent a lovely afternoon playing with singing bowls at Sound Travels.  They have a huge selection of bowls from crystal to old singing bowls and lots of different grades of bowls. In fact every type of singing bowl you could wish for.

When you select as bowl it is almost as if the bowl selects you.  Jonathan told us that in most cases people buy the first bowl that they pick up, but before they make this decision they may try out and play a dozen or more but go back to the original bowl.  We were not an exception to this rule.  Jonathan also gave a demonstration of different ways to play the bowls.

We use singing bowls in meditations as a focus point just listening to the sound as it fades away, this can be a very profound and relaxing meditation.  I like to play the bowls intuitively and just follow what feels right.

I hope this inspires you to have a go with a singing bowl.

www.soundtravels.co.uk

 

 

Exciting news from our graduates, read how some of our graduates are doing since getting their diplomas and starting teaching.  

Dr Lesley Roberts 

Dr. Lesley Roberts is enjoying teaching two quite different types of meditation this term.  At the Isbourne Foundation in Cheltenham,  Lesley’s Tuesday evening class for beginners and returners has been well attended, despite occasional snow! Lesley’s students experience a range of different meditation practices and become aware of which ones they prefer.  Students share with each other their experience of the meditations, and discuss the benefits they notice of bringing meditation into their life.   Lesley also runs Zentangle classes from her workshop at her Cheltenham home.  Zentangle is mindful drawing practice, developed by a former Buddhist monk and his calligrapher partner, which Lesley trained to teach in the US in 2012 (see www.zentangle.com ).  Lesley teaches students how to calmly create beautiful, structured patterns on a small tile of paper – a process which develops concentration, well-being and resilience (email lesley@theartsoflife.co.uk for details).

Kathryn Buxton

Meditation workshops – getting started.

I have meditated for years and, being a teacher, felt comfortable teaching it to family and friends. I gained my BSoM certificate last summer and with a qualification and letters behind my name, decided to branch out and run workshops with others. Getting myself a web site was the first interesting hurdle, but I enjoyed the process of designing my own site and was proud of the end result www.spacious-mind.co.uk (please check it out and see what you think!)

Finding a suitable venue was a slight problem but after a series of false starts I have now settled on Neal’s Yard Therapy rooms in Montpellier, Cheltenham. The room downstairs is intimate and can comfortably seat 8, but I think that’s a good number for people who may have a limited experience of meditation. It gives time for everyone to ask questions or make observations.

I love the energy from sitting with a group of like minded people – and they appreciate the stillness and instruction and gentle persuasion to continue their practise on a daily basis. Already I am looking into running more classes and find a venue for a day retreat some time in the summer!

Elaine Collier 

“Since graduating from the British School of Meditation at the end of last year, I have incorporated Meditation Classes into my joint business at The Como Centre in South Oxfordshire.  My first two courses started in the New Year – the evening class filled up quite quickly, the day course was a little less popular.  The next evening course starts next week.  Following on from these 6-week courses is a Meditation Group, where we aim to expand on everything taught in class and sit in meditation for longer periods of time.  By request from my students, I am now working on producing a meditation CD.  There is still much work to be done in spreading the word of the many benefits that daily meditation can bring, but already I can see positive changes in my first set of students.  I really love teaching meditation and I thank Mary and Helen for helping me to achieve it.  http://www.comocentreforelightenment.com; info@comocentreforenlightenment.com; 07766 565517”.  


Karen Tromans

I have been seeing 1-2-1 clients for meditation practice and my students are enjoying the time they are making for themselves as well as seeing benefits in their reactions to everyday life. Everyone has reported feeling much calmer.

I am teaching Meditation to staff at Avelo - a company whose focus is in the financial services sector. The work they do is very demanding and the time the staff take out for Meditation will benefit the individuals as well as the business.

I have also made a recording that is an Introduction to Meditation; this can be used independently of classes or along side in between sessions. 

Catherine Bailey

Hi I’m Catherine Bailey, meditation teacher and stress reduction manager.  I have some exciting news, this week I started my first Beginners Meditation course at The Integral Yoga Centre Swindon and Wood Street Health and Wellbeing Centre, Old Town, Swindon. 

I offer talks on how to reduce stress naturally with meditation and this Saturday I will be at Swindon Central Library talking about stress reduction.  If you would like more information about what I do please visit www.thecentreoflight.net or join my Facebook page The Centre of Light. You can also contact me on 07825 771154, I offer talks, events, classes and one to one appointments for stress reduction and Meditation. 

Guest Blog

Here is a Guest Blog from Anthony Peters   from Wise Monkey Training. www.wisemonkeytraining.co.uk.  

Becoming friends with your inner enemy

I recall having a workout at the gym when I noticed, as soon as my physical effort increased slightly, my mind started to say things like: "You can stop now" or "That'll do for today, you can try harder tomorrow" The more I tried to ignore and push the thoughts away the more compelling they became, to the point where every second during the end of an exercise became a battle of will.

After the gym session I treated myself to a few minutes in the steam room and Jacuzzi. No sooner as the steam began to raise my temperature there was my mind once again: "That'll do, it's getting too hot now. Leave. Walk out that door. Quick! Get out!" The harder I tried to push the thoughts out of my mind the hard it became to ignore them and relax. After a very short while I gave in and moved into the Jacuzzi. This time my mind became bored, much like a child with nothing to occupy and entertain it yet again, my leisure and relaxation time became a mental endurance test.

For many, if not all people starting out in meditation practise this type of mental wrestling can be a common challenge. As soon as the meditation practise begins to feel a little tough going, your mind seizes the opportunity and tries to convince you to give up transforming your meditation practise into a battle of will rather than a peace inducing experience.

Comparative to an undisciplined child, after a life of unchecked autonomy your mind does not like being told to quiet down and behave. When starting out, your mind seems to actively attempt to distract you during meditation and can even have a tantrum making you feel frustrated or annoyed at your perceived inability to meditate.

To help overcome this child-like mind whilst meditating you should become friends with it. Invite it inside to join you in meditation. Investigate it with intrigue and a fascination in relation to your internal world. Where is this voice within your body? Is it in your head? Where in your head is it?

At the back? At the front? Equally, if you feel annoyed, bored or frustrated during meditation, gently and with love, welcome those feelings inside you.

Become interested in the feelings and where they reside within your body.

By welcoming in the thoughts and feelings during your meditation practise, you are avoiding the common mistake of attempting to push them away. The very nature of pushing your thoughts and feelings away is to make them more 'sticky' and add fuel to more thought. Instead, welcome them with open arms and open heart like a long lost loved one.

Similarly, by investigating all feelings and emotions in relation to your body during a meditation practise your mind is brought inwards rather than being allowed to run outside of the present moment. Through mindful investigation of your inner world during meditation you are also likely to find that emotions, thoughts and physical feelings will either disappear or you will recognize how insignificantly small they are and can not possibly have any control over your behaviour.

Prof. Barbara Fredrickson et al. from the University of North Carolina researched how much meditation is needed to feel the benefits. From her studies, Prof. Fredrickson concluded that the positive emotional benefits of meditation are not typically noticed before three-weeks of regular practise.

However, after this initial 'settling down' period, positive emotions, levels of happiness and well-being are increased three-fold. That is to say, the same amount of meditation will provide three times as much noticeable benefits when compared to the previous three-weeks.

Therefore, when starting out, the first three weeks can be the most challenging so practise becoming good friends with your thoughts and feelings during this time; invite them inside, get to know them with love and kindness because they are not your enemy and in fact, they will teach you a great deal.

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The British School of Meditation has been established to train teachers in meditation techniques to meet the growing demand for highly trained and accredited meditation teachers throughout the UK including: the Midlands, South West, Wales, North West, North East, London and the South East.