I’ve dabbled with Meditation over the years, but it has seriously been on my radar for around a year.
At Christmas my sister was nipping off every day, twice a day to do her “mindfulness” practice and my friend James found a coping mechanism for his stress levels by “taking 10” every day with Headspace. These are two important people in my life and I could see changes in them, changes for the better and these changes were coming from their daily dedication to their practice. The positive changes their practice was making were starting to show up, their lives seemed easier, and both of them a lot happier.
So I decided to follow in their footsteps and learn more about training my mind. I read Mindfulness by Mark Williams and Danny Penman and I went to see their protegee Ruby Wax touring with her lecture about “how our minds can ruin our sanity” and bought and read her book Sane New World. I Downloaded the Headspace Ap and participated in two, free, 21 day guided meditations with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, and I took my hot yoga practice to a more meditative level by cooling and slowing down with regular Yin and Restorative classes.
All the above, amazing! Great books, I’d recommend them both, and though many people I encounter are raving about Headspace, I can’t get along with his voice (a lesson in itself no doubt) and the Deepak and Oprah 21 day meditations, although slightly cheesy are very informative and great for getting into a meditation routine (it takes 21 days to form or break a habit) and Deepak’s voice is a joy!
I have started to grasp the concept of quietening my mind and turning off the little voice, the Chitta Vritti, the Monkey Mind, that constant commentary that runs through my head, making me amongst other things, judgmental and impatient and I am trying to discipline myself into a routine every morning of doing 20 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of meditation (and an hour of writing!).
Keen to learn more and knowing it was just around the corner from me in Hove, I looked up possible workshops and classes at the Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre, and to my delight, they had a 1-day retreat on the “The Healing Power of Mediation.” Most of my meditation practice had been self-taught so I was keen to learn in a group environment and be taught by experts whose meditation is as part of their daily life as brushing their teeth. Could they help me master this practice, could they help me transform my thoughts?
The weekend was brimming with wonderful teachers, from all walks of life, some of them Monks and some of them like Steve had adopted the Buddhist way of life and its teaching, but it ran alongside his everyday life of being a builder!
Steve gave a thought-provoking talk on the workings of the mind. He explained that the mind is the lens through which we view the world, it is how we experience the world, and if our mind is clogged up with negativity – jealousy, anger, feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction and discontentment – then that is how we see and feel the world around us, so we need to clean up our mind. It is the minds natural default to generate negative thoughts and feelings, so we need to train the mind to be more positive and we can do this with a regular meditation practice. That made sense to me and all my previous learnings were starting to come together and then I met Lam Chen, who really got me thinking…..
Lam Chen took her session on the Saturday morning and not only did she look so much like my dearly departed mum Patsy Fuller, she radiated something so very beautiful that instantly made her incredibly attractive – she is in her late 60’s with a head of shaved grey hair and was engulfed in robes of yellow and burgundy much better suited to someone alot taller than this diminutive lady from the East Coast of Scotland.
Lam Chen spoke to us about Inner beauty, our desire to appear attractive and stay young. The amount of money and effort we put into our appearance and sometimes the extreme measures such as surgery that we undertake to make ourselves appear younger and more attractive, but actually the best anti ageing solution? A mind of compassion. If you can train your thoughts to be compassionate to others then you will radiate attractiveness and people will flock to you, no matter how good your skin or hair look, if your mind is thinking good things which results in good actions, you will be the most attractive you can possibly be.
What a lesson to learn, I’ve heard it before of course, but to hear it spoken by someone who had truly embraced this way of living her life and delivered it with such sincerity and belief was a revelation. As a hairdresser, with an interest in Spirituality this was a very poignant moment when a connection between the two worlds became visible. I’m not going to stop wearing make up or colouring my hair but I’m certainly going to concentrate more on my thoughts and learn to be a more compassionate and patient individual and hope that my inner beauty will start to show up more.
As well as all the wonderful insights I gained this weekend, I also made two lovely friends Tom and Lou from London. They were keen to go for a dip in the sea, so I suggested we go for a swim on Sunday at 0700 before morning mediation. Neither Tom or Lou had bought their bathers, so I dared them to a skinny dip!
It was a perfect Sunday morning, sun out, no breeze and a low tide so lots and lots of sand. We stripped off and ran in, it was blissful, Buddha had blessed us this Sunday morning! After half an hour my toes started to go numb so I decided to get out and as I walked out of the sea in all my glory, I heard “You are one hot Cougar!” I looked around and saw a “gentleman” who had just woken up on the beach and was just about to inhale on something highly illegal.
I work-shopped the comment in my head and decided to take it as a compliment. Luckily I was still in my Zen like state from the previous day, but there was a part of me that wanted to call him a c*ck… sorry Buddha, still got some work to do on training those thoughts!