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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

Meditation for everyone

The other day I read the following quotation: ‘nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come’ Victor Hugo.

I was immediately struck by the significance of this quotation in relation to meditation. I truly believe that now is meditation’s time. And as if to underline this belief I later read a full two page article in last week’s Sunday Times Magazine all about the increasing popularity of meditation with celebrities. The article featured Daisy Lowe, who I must admit I had never heard of, but then I am quite old! She spoke about how learning to meditate had brought calm into her frantic life.

Other people who now talk openly about their meditation practice include: Russell Brand, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Watson and Davina McCall.  

Learning to meditate seems to be high on many people’s ‘to do’ list these days. It is therefore a wonderful opportunity for us to begin to meet that demand with our classes and courses. 

Mary 

Book Review

Book Review.

I have been reading The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.

Sogyal Rinpoche talks about all aspects of living and dying, and how working with various Meditation techniques will help us with both living and dying. 

The author gives detailed instructions on how to meditate pointing out that the technique of meditation is not meditation but the process leading to meditation.  I have found that we all get bogged down with the technique, and forget that the technique is just that the way we enable ourselves to meditate.

I particularly like this paragraph on the posture of meditation.

‘Sit, then, as if you were a mountain, with all the unshakable, steadfast majesty of a mountain. A mountain is completely natural and at ease with itself, however strong the winds that batter it, however thick the dark clouds that swirl around its peak.  Sitting like a mountain, let you mind rise and fly and soar.’

To me this conjures up the image of being connected to the earth with all its strengths, knowing that whatever comes along I am strong, and because of this anchor when meditating my mind can expand to all that it is.

In another part of the book the author tells us to rest our minds in the vastness of the sky, to me this phrase give a great sense of freedom and liberation of the mind.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is beautifully written; I know that this is a book that I will read time and time again and each time I will gain a new insight.

Helen

Extract from The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Kindle location 1427


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

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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.