Tag Archives: classes

This Week: Meditation Classes & Tangible Benefits

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So this week I finally made it back to a meditation class. This time in the Kadampa Meditation Centre on Portland Street. Although I thought it was just a drop-in session it turned out to be the start of a four-week course on using meditation to help manage stress and worry. It was in a Buddhist setting and they did open with a ‘praise’ I didn’t feel any pressure to join in, or feel like the religious aspects had any negative effect on my experience of the class.

The course mostly talked about  how technology doesn’t really affect our levels of happiness. Mostly in  relation to the way we use smart phones and other devices which I can agree with. However, I can’t really agree with that statement as a blanket statement as I find certain types of technology extremely helpful.

The other main point made was that a problem isn’t caused by external circumstances, but by how we relate to it. For example, if the car breaks down when we need to go somewhere then it is a problem, but if it breaks down when we were hoping not to have to go somewhere then it suddenly becomes not so much of a problem.

In between  teaching there were two periods of meditation probably about 10 to 15 minutes long. I definitely enjoyed doing meditation in a group setting again. The teacher had a really calm presence and at the start of the first meditation  period, she said ‘sit up as straight as is possible for you’ which immediately put me at ease. It was a lovely warm and friendly environment and  I am definitely hoping to go back next week.

I was able to see  the benefits almost straight away because that night I forgot to ensure that I had my phone with me before my PA left.  When this has happened in the past I have been really angry with myself. It  has also made me really anxious because if something happens in the morning I am not able to do anything about it. This time I was able to not panic,  remind myself that nothing bad had happened yet,  saying to myself if something happens in the morning then you can panic. I might have been a bit anxious, but nowhere near my normal levels and I was actually able to get a pretty good night’s sleep.

If you want to know more about the  meditation centre I visited click here

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Meditation Classes: Part 2

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I almost called this Meditation classes The Final Weeks, but I thought that sounded too much like a bad  blockbuster movie sequel  so I changed my mind.  I had some technical issues last week, hence the lack of a post so apologies if you missed me. I attended  my last meditation class this Monday, so I thought I would write about my experience over the last two weeks.

The Final two weeks  were about being and doing. In the third week we spoke more about how much time we spend  thinking about the past or the future and  how if we manage to be present, it feels better for us because we  spend less time being pulled in different directions by our thoughts.

We  also spent more time in actual meditation exercises. One of the things that attending these classes has made me realise is how much easier it seems to stay in meditation when you are doing it  as part of  a group instead of just on your own. I have found after 4 weeks that some of that stability (not sure if that is the right word, but I mean that I seem to be slightly less easily distracted) that I felt in class has been starting to transfer to my solo practice.

The final week was about trying to transfer as much about meditation practice as possible into our daily lives, this can sound  difficult to start with but when our  teacher explained it, it seemed  a lot less daunting and a lot more helpful. It is easiest to explain in relation to doing something you don’t enjoy. Normally you would spend the entire activity thinking about what you were going to do when it was finally over,  which only makes  the activity seem a lot worse and take a lot longer. Whereas if you can try and bring yourself in and focus completely on the activity, without thinking about before it or after it, firstly you are taking  away a layer of  resistance and secondly you will hopefully be able to access a sense of flow which may make the activity pass a lot more quickly. I don’t think this is something that will happen for me immediately but it is definitely something that I am going to be practising.

Our main technique has been Vipassana meditation, which is focusing on the breath and then labeling any other experiences as simply, thinking, feeling/sensation or hearing and then going back to the breath. In this session we tried a new meditation technique which was about having a wider sense of awareness. I really enjoyed trying something new, but wish we had alternated a bit more as I would have liked to get more comfortable with it before the classes ended.

I thought I would find meditating this week very difficult as my head has been very busy with the news about the cuts,  but to my surprise if anything I found it easier than usual.

I will definitely be looking out for more classes that I can attend in reality,  but in the meantime I will be doing more research into  online group meditations  to try and maintain some of that benefit that I got from the classes.

I have just watched a really interesting film which mentions using meditation while recovering from a stroke. It’s called my Beautiful Broken Brain and it is very interesting and beautifully realised. If you want to watch it, it has just been added to Netflix.

If you would like more info on the classes I attended that can be found here: http://www.beanddo.co.uk/our-programmes.html#community

Meditation Classes: My experience so far

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Image shows a wooden statue of Woman with stretched ears and a pronounced belly in lotus position. It is in front of a mirror on a wooden surface.

So as promised  I thought I would write a post about my experience of meditation classes so far.  Most of the meditation I have done up until this point has been on my own through using apps or videos on YouTube. I have experienced one class before but the experience of trying to get into the building was so  difficult I didn’t go back.

This time I have found a four-week course which takes place in a fully accessible building. I’m halfway through so I thought I would talk about what I’ve learned so far. Initially I was quite nervous,  going on  my own and knowing that I would probably be the only wheelchair user, which always makes me self-conscious to start with.

It turned out to  a small group so I soon felt quite comfortable.  The  first part was mostly things that I was quite familiar with, but even then during the first guided meditation I was fully expecting to have a big spasm, or for my body to do something odd, so I was hyper aware of that for a while.  We also did an exercise  where we had to close our eyes and just be aware of our hands, to see  if we could be aware of the electrical energy, which I have to admit I had a bit of trouble not judging.

The second week was all about learning to see the space between our thoughts, this was really useful as I have had quite a hectic week and I have been struggling with using my mindfulness to help me stay calm. With this in mind I wanted to talk to the teacher about being able to more effectively apply mindfulness when I am feeling anxious, as until now I have always been least able to use mindfulness  when I most need it. In answer to this question,  my teacher showed me a technique borrowed from yoga, where you breathe through one nostril at a time, closing the other nostril with by putting a finger on the side of your nose and this allows you to shift your focus away from anxious thought loops.  

Another thing that I have been struggling  with was keeping my eyes closed during meditation. When I mentioned this it was suggested that I try keeping my eyes semi-open. You can try this by closing your eyes and then opening them  again slightly. Not entirely sure this is working for me yet but it’s great to  have new things to try and having people to talk to about techniques is definitely helping to develop my practice.  It also proves that when I make myself ask questions, even if I feel a bit silly, it helps me get the most out of things.

This course has another two weeks to run, so I will let you know how that goes. Then I am hoping to look into whether group meditation online can be an effective way to access and develop meditation  and mindfulness.

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.