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British School of Meditation Blog

British School of Meditation Blog


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

Weather and meditation

Is it just me or are you finding this weather is taking your Mo-Jo away?   I think that we look forward to seeing the sun and being outside so when it rains for days in the summer and its cold, we just feel deflated. Various friends have said they just can’t be bothered with stuff. 

What can we do when we feel like this?  In my view this is just the time to give ourselves some Loving Kindness. Don’t put pressure on yourself just relax into how you are feeling and just be with it.  I was feeling guilty as I had not some work for the school, then I took myself in hand and thought well Helen don’t do until you feel in the right place, the next day I got all the work done.  In the meantime, I had enjoyed putting my feet up and playing our new puppy.

I also practised Loving Kindness Meditation, for those of you that done know this meditation here it is.

First of all, settle in your meditation position.

Be aware of your breath.

When you are ready just say these words to yourself.

May I be well,

May I be happy,

May all good things come to me.

Repeat this phrase as many times as you like.

After a time stop repeating the phrase and just sit. If your attention wanders go back to repeating the phrase.

You can if you wish then think of someone you love and say this in you mind to them, then maybe think of someone who perhaps you don’t get on so well with.

However, it is really ok just to focus on yourself.

Look after yourselves.


Meditation and direct experience.

This week I joined one of our groups of students training to be meditation teachers with BSoM. We had a very interesting discussion about the scientific research that has been done over the last 30 years or so, on the benefits of meditation.  Science has been able to show that meditation can help with both physiological and psychological issues, it has even been shown to help us lay down more neurones in the brain.  Science has clearly shown that we can slow down our brainwaves.  I have put a few links at the bottom of this blog if you want to investigate further.  Part of the course is for the learner to write an essay and give a talk about the science that has been done to support the benefits of meditation.

One our students made the very valid point that we can get distracted by the science, that the benefits are a side issue, important but, possibly not why we meditate.

These are my thoughts on this, science is very important as in the age we live in people expect validation for what they do, they are not prepared to spend time just on an off chance that it may work for them.

So, the scientific evidence can be useful in pointing people in the right direction but it can not tell them what meditation is like.  It’s a bit like trying to explain what honey tastes like. You could say it is sweet, and has can have a smooth texture, although the taste can vary depending where the bees have gathered the pollen. It is only through actually tasting honey can we understand what it tastes like, this is a direct experience.  I can talk all day about the benefits of meditation and the experience but until someone try’s it themselves they cannot really know what it is like to meditate.  Also, within that experience, you have to understand that each meditation experience is different, the same as every jar of honey is different and that this is OK.  The important point is that you gave yourself permission to meditate and took time for yourself. through doing this you are giving yourself a direct experience of meditation.


I have just returned home from walking part of the Camino de Santiago.

This is the famous walk to Santiago that has been followed by pilgrims and others since the Middle Ages.




This shell is the symbol of the Camino and walkers/pilgrims follow the shell as they walk the route.

I went with two friends and we were also part of an organised trip.

We arrived by plane into Bilboa and stayed overnight before beginning our walk the next day. We walked part of the route each day, some days were more challenging than others. The first day it was cold and wet, and the path was rocky and muddy. Walking was difficult that first day.

Walking got easier after the first day! As well as walking the Camino, we stopped off to visit churches and cathedrals along the way. In all we did walked for 6 days and arrived at Santiago by walking into the city as pilgrims have done over the centuries. We toured the city and the famous cathedral. On the final day we went to Finisterre – the end of the world – the point people thought the world ended when they believed the earth was flat.

Before I went I read a couple of books on the Camino and watched the film ‘The Way’

with Martin Sheen. The Way tells the story of a man, played by Martin Sheen, whose son dies in a tragic accident while walking the Camino. He then decides to do the walk himself and scatter his son’s ashes along the way. It’s a moving story and I recommend it. Walking the Camino changed his whole outlook on life.

I read Sonia Choquette’s book Walking Home which nearly put me off as she had appalling weather in May when we went. It poured rain, the path was deep in mud, there were thunderstorms and snow!

Here is an account of someone who did the whole journey:


Buen Camino!!


Ancient Meditations for Modern Times by Frans Stiene

Many ancient Asian meditation practices have come to the west since the early 60's. But are they of benefit in this modern day and age? 

We could say that any kind of meditation practice is of benefit, especially in turbulent times like the ones we are living in now!

However, we also need to look at what some of these meditation practices are doing to our mind, body and energy to see if they are of benefit or not.

One very common practice, currently taught in many meditation schools, is about resting our awareness on the tip of the nose and feeling the breath going in and out of the nostrils. 

From an energetic point of view this meditation is more focused on the upper part of our body, mainly the head. Therefore, we also can say that it is helping us to feel our interconnectedness to heavenly energy.

But when this meditation originally was developed and traditionally was practiced, people lived much more in harmony with the earth. They were therefore much more grounded and centred to begin with. They had, and they felt, a deep interconnection with the earth energy.

In our modern society, often we have mislaid this interconnection with the earth. We have lost our groundedness and centeredness due to being more in our heads. In our heads (and often through our mouths), we constantly ask why, how, who, what, when? And therefore we are always analyzing and over thinking things. Living in the head is also due to mobile phones, TV's, computers, etc., all of which distract and take us away from grounded and centred interconnectedness with the earth. But it is not only this: many of us also live in concrete cities, work in crammed offices, and rarely walk in nature anymore.

Thus, by first (and only) practicing a meditation technique which takes us even more in our head, we will become even more ungrounded and uncentred. 

In olden times when people lived more in harmony with nature and were not over thinking things, that ancient meditation technique was perfect. But we live in a very different world now. Things have changed. And therefore if we practice one of these ancient practices without first realizing that we need to be grounded and centred before we even start, we might unbalance our mind, body, and energy. This imbalance can happen even as we seek to find balance through the practice, because the practice needs a grounded, centred foundation that it will not have if we practice only from (and in) our heads.

Thus it is of utmost importance if we want to practice these ancient spiritual teachings, that we first work on rediscovering our interconnectedness with the earth.  

A tree cannot start by growing leaves and branches; it first needs to grow roots. And if the roots are not stable and the tree grows more towards heaven, it might even fall over and need to start anew. But if the tree has stable roots, then it can create a beautiful canopy.

This stable, grounded and centred feeling comes from bringing our mind and energy deep into our body, just below the navel; this is the centre of our roots.

As meditation teachers, we therefore need to be aware of the effects of our own practice and the changes in our way of being before we start to teach specific meditation practices to others. 

And just like the tree with stable roots can create a beautiful canopy of leaves and branches in time, if we as meditation practitioners and teachers work to rediscover and cultivate our connection to the earth, our practice can blossom and grow, literally from the ground up.

Gratitude every day

Gratitude every day.

Sometime ago I wrote a blog on keeping a gratitude diary, which I still try to do most days (notice the try bit). In this blog I am hoping to expand on this.

I have just come back from visiting my daughter in the US, and I did not have a great night’s sleep last night, most likely still a bit jet lagged.  When the alarm went off, I got up, but was feeling in quite a grouch, the first thought that went through my mind was, ‘Why can’t David get up for once and bring me a cup of tea.’   You can see where this thought trail is leading, and I duly followed that trail.

After breakfast, which yes, I prepared, more thoughts!  I sat down with a cup of coffee, for a few minutes peace and quiet to start my day.  I opened my iPad and clicked on YouTube, and there at the top of my home page was a Gratitude Meditation, led by Bob Baker (who I have never heard of before) anyway I thought ‘Helen, let’s listen to this’.

This simple meditation was just what I needed.  It reminded me of all the good things in my life, and I have plenty. The meditation worked through gratitude for: -

My five senses, and paused to think about if one was missing what gifts would this bring.

Family and friends

My home

My sense of wellbeing.

The food I have will have today and the farmers that have grown it.

This list went on, and I am sure you can think of other blessing in your life that you have gratitude for.

At times though life can be very tough. My family  and I have had to deal with a sudden bereavement which was very traumatic. However, even in the darkest moments I tried to think the blessings in my life. At this time, it was all the family and friends that travelled from great distances who supported us.  Without them it would have be truly hard, they made us laugh and we cried together this was a great healing. I thank them and bless them.


Mala beads

Mala beads

A few weeks ago, I went down to Bristol to join with Sarah Presley and her trainee meditation students. They were studying Unit 5 of our Meditation Teacher Training course which looks at how you can start your meditation business once you have qualified as an accredited teacher with The British School of Meditation. We had a really good day and I was delighted to hear from one of the students that he is planning to run meditation sessions within his company once he has qualified. He is also going to volunteer at Sue Ryder’s Hospice in Cheltenham.

At one of the breaks I saw that Sarah had sets of mala beads for sale. Mala beads are used in Buddhist meditation.  Mala beads consist of 108 beads which the meditator uses while meditating or chanting. The usual chant to do is ‘Om mani padme hum’. This mantra helps us to invoke loving feelings of compassion. It is the most widely used of Buddhist mantras.

I bought some sets of beads for my meditation students and at our next afternoon session we all chanted using the beads.

We listened to Tim Wheater’s track on his CD Invisible Journeys

You can buy the beads on Amazon and Etsy  

Happy chanting!

Why I prescribe meditation by Dr Lisa Thomas

My favourite thing about being a GP is getting to know my patients and finding out what has led to the problem in the first place, then working with them to find a solution. I practice lifestyle medicine as part of my routine patient management, both in the NHS and in my private clinic.

Lifestyle medicine is empowering patients with tools to improve their health and wellbeing through lifestyle changes. This is backed by scientific evidence. My particular area of interest is in using meditation and it’s power to heal.

Through my lifestyle medicine workshops and regular general practice I have been prescribing meditation to patients for a variety of medical conditions. This includes heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and IBS as well as mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Patient feedback is fantastic and most conditions seem to improve with regular practice over an 8 week period.

There is considerable excitement in the scientific community regarding the emergence of more and more evidence supporting meditation as an effective healing tool. Better quality research is being conducted therefore making it more reliable. 8 weeks of daily practice seems to lead to the best outcomes, and this is why I usually recommend a trial of this duration for patients as a starting point. Most patients, however, want to continue with meditation as they feel so much better for it.

Meditation leads to measurable changes in the brain and body. It results in neuroplasticity (the development of new nerve cells in the brain) and so the brain’s ability to develop and change structurally. There is better emotional regularity, more positivity as well as improved memory. Great news for those concerned about conditions such as dementia. Benefits are also seen within the body right down to cellular level. Telomeres protect chromosomes, which carry our DNA and reduce in length with cell replication and ageing. The telomerase enzyme is linked with improved cell longevity through its ability to maintain the telomere. Meditation results in significant greater activity of this enzyme. This essentially means we do not age as quickly or become prone to disease so early. No more looking old and haggard when stressed! Changes are also seen in select biomarkers of the immune system. There is improved immune system function and less stress response. Meditation was even shown to be better than exercise in it’s ability to improve our immune system against the cold virus. It is also effective in improving blood pressure, reducing heart rate and breathing rate, helping us feel calm. Most people are aware it improves conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress. It has also been shown to be beneficial in patients with cancer and chronic pain. I believe that it can be useful as part of the management of any health problem.

I do find that I am prescribing less pharmaceuticals as patients favour the option of trying meditation instead. It isn’t that I am anti-medicine, of course not, I just like to offer a low risk, no side effect option to patients and let them choose. As I say to patients, medicines are always there as a backup or to complement the lifestyle interventions.

I have recently written a website to provide more information to the public about meditation as well as start a YouTube channel and Instagram account to harness the power of social media. I also host Revive Retreats, a health retreat centred around lifestyle medicine and meditation. I really hope to spread the message so that this can be a tool for everyone to benefit from.

Given the low cost and low risk of harm it is an exciting possibility that meditation can be implemented in anyone’s life and result in vitality and longevity.

I wish you all health and happiness,

Dr Lisa

For more information see:








Revive Retreats

David Hamilton Workshop


Workshop with Dr David Hamilton

The British School of Meditation was delighted to welcome David Hamilton to  the Isbourne Centre in Cheltenham.

We have heard David speak several times and find he is one of the most popular speakers on our CPD days. 50 people came to hear him speak, he is a wonderfully engaging and amusing speaker and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.

In this workshop David talked about the power of the placebo effect.

David recounted examples of how some people taking placebos, sometimes even when they knew they were taking them, did as well as those taking the actual drug being tested. This is truly amazing and shows us the power of the mind over the body.

One of David’s books, ‘How the Mind can heal the Body’ has been updated and re-published. The book gives lots of examples of the power of the mind to heal the body.

pla·ce·bo ef·fect


·         1.a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient's belief in that treatment – definition in the Oxford Dictionary

If you are interested in hearing David speak in person see

Very Short Meditations and blood pressure

I promised in my last blog I would let you know how I got on at trying to bring in short mindful periods in my day.  I have tried to remember, the most memorable times are when I have stepped outside and just taken a few deep breaths and given myself time to enjoy the sounds around me, or at night just looking at the sky.  I am lucky I live in the countryside so I can see the stars at night.

 I had to pop to see my GP the other day, and as they always do the Doctor checked my blood pressure and it was no surprise to me that she found that it was a rather high. I was then asked to take my blood pressure in the morning and in the evening for a period of a week.   High blood pressure runs in my family, so I was happy to do this.

I have to tell you at this point that my husband over the years has built up a collection of USA and Canadian car number plates, and we have them on the wall of our kitchen.  This one morning I took the first reading and it was rather high, so I thought right Helen take three breaths and focus on something, I looked over at the all of number plates and focused on the number plate for British Columbia, the number plate reads ‘British Columbia, Beautiful.’.   So, I took three deep mindful breaths and focused on the word in front of me ‘Beautiful.  I then took another reading and it was down to 120/60, the reading I had when I was in my 20s,30s and 40s.  I was astounded, although you would think I would know this, but to me this was physical proof that when you can just take three deep breaths and allow yourself a moment of calm.

By the way the Doctor has not been back in touch with me about the readings so I guess they are happy with them.

Remember three deep breaths and allow yourself a moment of calm.


Acts of kindness

Acts of kindness

Yesterday I had an appointment in town and went in on the bus. I used my bus pass going but when I was coming home, I couldn’t find my pass anywhere. I paid the fare to get home, £2.30, and felt so grateful for the pass!

When I arrived home, I had a phone call from someone at the council to say someone had found my pass. They gave me a number to ring and I spoke to the person who had found my pass.

He offered to pop round to my house with it. So, having thought I had lost my bus pass and would have to go through a whole process of applying for a replacement, within the space of half an hour the lost pass was returned to me.

So, a lovely act of kindness.

It is so easy to focus on all that goes wrong in the world and forget that most people are kind and helpful. I was really touched by this act of kindness.

Do you remember the film ‘Pay it Forward’?

The premise of the film and of the book by Catherine Hyde is that you do 3 acts of kindness and ask the recipients to then in turn do 3 acts of kindness to other people rather than reciprocate your act of kindness. It is a way of spreading kindness in the world.

So, this week I will be doing random acts of kindness to say thank you to Paul who restored my buss pass to me!

The meditation on LovingKindness is one of my absolute favourites. Metta or LovingKindness is a powerful way of extending love and kindness in the world.

We can all be inspired by this meditation to be kinder to one another and also, importantly, to ourselves.

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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.