See Find Us – When and where? for when and where we meet (which is changing in April 2022). It is open to everyone from complete beginners to ordained monks. There is no charge for classes, but donations are welcome to help pay for hiring the hall where we meet. We do two seated meditations with a walking meditation in between (so you can stretch your legs), which amounts to around an hour and a half, but there’s time for tea and discussion afterwards if you wish. All meditations are guided, so it is suitable for beginners.
Meditation and Mindfulness
There are many different forms of meditation in Buddhism. Some go back to the Buddha himself (and possibly further back in time than that) while others are more recent developments.
But what is meditation? Meditation is the conscious cultivation of mindfulness, positive emotion, and clear perception of the ways things are.
Meditation is not a form of prayer, in which we call upon an external agency, but a form of inner training, in which we cultivate new ways of being. In meditation we consciously cultivate positive mental habits.
The term meditation encompasses many different techniques that facilitate the cultivation of, amongst other things, calmness, relaxation, one-pointed concentration, loving kindness, compassion, a sense of wellbeing, and insight into the impermanent and interconnected nature of reality.
In meditating we use some object on which we direct our attention. We can use the sensations of the breath, our emotional connection with ourselves and others, the physical sensations of the body, sounds, visualized images, etc.
Having settled upon a method we then simply return to the object of our meditation each and every time we realise we have become distracted. Over time the mind will begin to settle, to become focused solely upon our chosen object and at some point become “as one” with the object i.e. absorbed. This is an entirely natural state, arguably our natural state, you have undoubtedly experienced this state already but probably been unaware of it. In meditation we consciously cultivate a state of absorption, this is the essence of mind training. Once we obtain this one pointedness of mind we will be able to direct towards investigation of the human condition.
Buddhist meditation is broadly divided into Shamatha and Vipashyana practices. Shamatha (Pali: Samatha) practice calms the mind and helps develops one-pointed concentration and positive emotions. Vipashyana (Pali: Vipassana) practice builds on the calmness, focus, and positive emotion generated in Shamatha , and helps to develop an awareness of the impermanence, interconnectedness and the contingent nature of our experience.