On a Wednesday evening to support each other’s meditation practice is how we started. With an understanding that secular Buddhist practice is more than simply meditation, we now also focus on developing our understanding of a secular dharma practice around the four tasks the Buddha taught his followers.
These are: to experience life; let go of instinctive reactivity; see the stopping of that reactivity; and act – respond, say, see, set a direction in our lives, cultivate a path – ‘the eightfold path’ – in which we work on eight aspects of our lives. It’s essentially a positive feedback loop, rather than an ascent to ever greater heights (or depths) of ... whatever.
Our guiding principles are community, care, creativity and compassion, and we think of ourselves as a community of practitioners who are dedicated to the development of the relationship between a secular Buddhism and an ethical, compassionate engagement with all the beings on our planet. We do this in practice with:
- Gaining insight through focused self-observation, and
- The cultivation of states of compassion and unconditional friendliness, or love, based on that insight.
Translating that compassion and love into action in this world, today, now.
Our practice is a simple one
We sit silently, in stillness, on chairs rather than on cushions on the floor, aware of whatever is happening for us at that moment.
Watching the breath as it enters and leaves the body, we may become aware of sounds, or sensations in the body, or take note of our thoughts and feelings.
If you’d prefer to sit on a cushion or a stool on the floor and you have what you need, you’re welcome to bring it.
Walking meditation is another practice we do from time to time, with instructions given before we start.
The first Wednesday of the month we call Beginners’ Mind, and it’s great for people who’ve never tried meditation, as well as those of us who know that every time we sit it’s just like starting over. Download some really simple meditation instructions you can use at home here.
At the end of some of our sessions, we may spend four or five minutes reflecting on what happened during our meditation session, journalling what we can recall, followed by discussion.
When we pause, and let our mind rest, we feel better – there’s no great mystery in this, the only mystery is why we don’t do it more often
Our evenings may include a short guided meditation, and we always finish in good time for conversation, tea and biscuits.
If you find sitting meditation hard, download this PDF which outlines six additional ways you might try to meditate.