I am pleased to report that lots of things are going on at Hertford. The photo is from Vajragupta’s recent visit.
We have just started an introductory six week course on meditation and Buddhism last week. But (even if you are a complete beginner) it does not matter if you have missed any, just drop in to any of the evenings that you would like to.
Also Amber has started teaching yoga every Tuesday 6pm to 7pm at the Quaker Meeting House, 50 Railway Street, Hertford. SG14 1BA. All levels are welcome. £5 per session. Contact Amber 0794 261 2117. You will need to bring your own yoga mat. The timing of this course is designed so that you have time to walk up to the Millbridge rooms to come to our Tuesday night class afterwards if you want to. But you don’t have to. You can just do one or the other, both or neither.
And at our Tuesday class:-
1/10 Keith and Amber
8/10 Mangala and Keith
15/10 Leah and Keith
I look forward to seeing you at some of these if you can make it.
All the best
p.s. Vajragupta came a couple of weeks ago to talk about themes from his latest book “Free Time”. It was a great evening. 41 people came and he sold and wrote personal messages in lots of books.
He goes to lots of Buddhist groups, but he told me that he thought our one was particularly “friendly” and “lively”.
Here is an excerpt from his book “Buddhism: Tools for living your life”, which we recommend to people new to Buddhism.
There is another meditation method that can be helpful in learning this ability to sit in awareness.
exercise – just sitting
In this exercise we sit quietly and comfortably as in the first meditation, but this time we are not going to focus on anything in particular.
We just watch the play of our minds. We try to notice any thoughts, sensations, or feelings as they come into the mind. If we have a thought about a meeting we have to attend tomorrow, we simply watch the thought as it comes and goes. If there is an itch in our left leg, we feel the itch and it fades away. If we hear neighbour shouting, we simply hear the sound come and go. If we notice irritation arising, we feel the irritation and let it go.
We try this for maybe five minutes and then relax for a few moments. Afterwards we can reflect on what happened. Was it easy, or was it difficult? Were we surprised by the activity of the mind?
Sitting in this way, you might notice how your mind has an inexhaustible tendency to reach out, and either want to grasp or to repel the experiences it finds out there. But in this exercise we are attempting to rest the mind in simple mindfulness: relaxing, rather than grasping or repelling. This type of meditation is sometimes called the just sitting practice, but we need to be careful that we are not just drifting! We do not want to lose ourselves in the play of the mind, but remain fully aware. This is not always easy and may require a lot of practice.
Through meditation, we come to know our minds more fully, and we might be surprised by what we discover. Sometimes the sheer volume of thoughts rushing round in our head is shocking. We may discover anger and irritation that has not been fully acknowledged, emotions that have been gnawing away at our hearts without our realizing. There are happier discoveries too; we free up more expansive emotion and energy, and may experience new levels of clarity and calm. We can gradually come to learn about the deeper and subtler workings of the mind, and there is always more to discover.
Cultivating this mindfulness also gives us distance from which we can see the overall pattern of our lives. It allows us to untangle ourselves from the daily worries, irritations, and concerns and create a space around them. In this space we can know ourselves more clearly and see what is really going on and what is truly important to us. Our habits and tendencies become more apparent. If they are unhelpful habits this means we can now change them. So mindfulness is the first crucial step to our inner freedom, to becoming more fully the ‘author’ of our own story.
© Windhorse Publications