Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Learning to meditate

It is only recently that I've began to take an avid interest in the teachings of the Buddha, and as a result of this, started to learn how to meditate. Buddhism - a term I had heard used often enough but never really understood its true meaning. After a tough few months last year, I was determined to alter my negative frame of mind. Countless nights of over thinking and an evident lack of sleep was starting to take its toll on my body. It was one evening, whilst reading up on the marvellous South East Asia, and planning my travels for next year when a friend of mine asked if I would like to go along with him to a Buddhist centre in Birmingham. Evidently, I jumped at the chance. It sounded like just what I needed, and indeed it was. Two hours of listening to the teachings of the Buddha and learning how to meditate left me eager for more. 

I can't say I am a huge fan of religion for various reasons (which I won't go into on here), but Buddhism offers many logical and profound ideas that I am able to both relate to and preach. Unfortunately, a lot of people today use the symbol of the Buddha as a fashion accessory, but after experiencing a Buddhist centre in action, I can certainly say that it's much more than that. To be honest, I never even knew these sorts of places existed, especially on my doorstep. It was a breath of fresh air to see so many diverse people all in one place; from the young to the old, the eccentric to your everyday worker; the centre welcomed people from far and wide. 

Some would argue that Buddhism is not a religion, some will argue for it. Personally I don't mind - either way - it is fascinating. The first time I went along to the Buddhist centre, I must admit, I wasn't completely open minded to all that was going on around me. One of the reasons I attended the Buddhist centre in the first place was to learn how to switch off, to let go of reality. This excited me above all else. What really stuck me about this particular centre in Birmingham was its welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is equal; whether you were coming along for fun, because of recent trauma or to learn more about Buddhism, you can find it here. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and after two more sessions I started to feel like I had achieved something. 

I am now on my way to completing my six week 'Introduction to Buddhism' course. Thanks to these sessions, I am now able to appreciate the little things around me; like making a cup of tea and loved ones. I love the mindfulness behind this teaching; the Buddha recognises that everyone gets angry from time time. It's about letting go of the past and living in the present, taking every day as it comes and not letting your negative emotions control you (as I often did). Not only have I learnt how to relax, I have even learnt how to take time out before I speak which is a first for me.  Even my sleeping pattern has improved which is amazing. Who knows, I may even consider converting to Buddhism completely after delving into its roots on my travels next year...

Evolution - Rebecca Elson
We are survivors of immeasurable events,
Flung upon some reach of land,
Small, wet miracles without instructions,
Only the imperative of change.


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