Coming up at Hertford Buddhist Group in November

The photo is from our retreat in September in Newmarket.
Hi everyone,

We have finally finished our 6 week course. We will have another course starting in January, but we have not nailed down all the details yet.

But don’t wait till then. Coming along to our drop in class is actually the perfect way to spend a cold November Tuesday evening! Newcomers and beginners are always welcome. Full meditation instruction is always given.

Coming up we have:
5th November: Jayaka (male mitra convenor of the London Buddhist Centre)
12th November: Mangala and Keith
19th November: Akashamitra (leads the London Buddhist Centre Monday night class sometimes)
26th November: Not yet decided
3rd December: Khemananda
10th December: Leah
17th December: Not yet decided
24th December: No class
31st December: No class
7th January: Jnanavaca (ex chair of London Buddhist Centre, and president of Cambridge Buddhist Centre)

I hope you can make all or some of these. See you there!

Keith

p.s. Also, don’t forget our drop in yoga class lead by Amber. Every Tuesday up till and including December 3rd, then it will start again in January.

Yoga for the Sangha is every Tuesday from 6 pm to 7 pm at:

The Quaker Meeting House,
50 Railway Street,
Hertford
SG14 1BA.

All levels are welcome
£5 per session
Contact Amber 0794 261 2117 for more information

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 Sangha night class afterwards if you would like to do both!

p.p.s. Here is an excerpt from Vajragupta’s book “Buddhism: Tools for living your life”, which we recommend to people new to Buddhism (as well as more experienced people)

But cultivating mindfulness also takes time. Sometimes, when teaching meditation, I’ve asked people why they want to learn. A common reply is, ‘I just want to be able to switch off.’ I have to disappoint them. Our minds are not computers. We cannot just click on an icon, or flick a switch, to quell the activity of the mind. In the previous chapter we saw how what we are is the product of all our previous thoughts, words, and acts. This is true on many levels: on the macro-level, when we look back at our whole life and see the kind of person we have become, but also on a micro-, or day-to-day, level. The thoughts and images that may be swirling round our heads right now are the product of what we’ve been thinking, saying, and doing this very day. There is no magical technique to just stop all this; we have to sit with the mind, letting that karma-vipaka (see p.14) gradually play itself out.

There is a lovely traditional image for this. Imagine your mind is like a glass vessel of water. Perhaps the water is muddy and unclear, with various bits and pieces swimming about in it. Meditation is sitting quietly and still so that the sediment gradually starts to settle. It takes time, but after a while the water becomes crystal clear and still. This process cannot be hurried. Anything you do to the water to try to make it clear will actually stir it up again.

Since meditation works gradually, consistency of practice over time is also very important. Meditating every day for a short period, or at least most days in a week, is much better that a long meditation only once or twice a week. You can also experiment to see what works best for you: meditating first thing in the day, or at another time? Is meditating for about twenty minutes right for you, or could you usefully go a bit longer?
exercise – daily meditation practice

You might find the following helpful in encouraging you to establish a daily meditation. Try to meditate once a day, or as many days as you can manage, for the next two weeks. It doesn’t have to be a long meditation. If you miss a day, don’t give up, but get back to it as soon as you can. It is often recommended that we alternate the mindfulness of breathing that we explored above with the loving-kindness meditation described in the next chapter. But for now, if you’ve only learned one meditation, just do that one every day.

Perhaps you could even keep a meditation journal for these two weeks, briefly recording at the end of each session what happened, and anything you learned or noticed that you want to remember and take forward to the next meditation.

After two weeks, ask whether you notice any difference in yourself. You might be surprised at what you find. You could even ask your friends if they notice any difference. Other people sometimes notice more quickly than we do!

Daily practice allows the meditation to have a cumulative effect. Establishing a daily practice is a significant stage in making meditation a central part of our lives. We try to develop a positive habit in which we meditate every day when our practice is going well, but also keeping going when it seems harder.

© Windhorse Publications

Meditation and Buddhism Course plus New Yoga Class in Hertford

Hi there,

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
22/10 Khemananda

I look forward to seeing you at some of these if you can make it.

All the best

Keith

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

Coming up in Sep – Vajragupta plus a 6 week course

Hi there

Things have been going well at the Tuesday night class. We had a couple of guest speakers who had not been here before (Alex and Karunanatha), and we covered many interesting topics such as Akshobya (the mythical Blue Buddha), Receptivity, the Positive Precepts (doorways to happiness) and Metta (loving kindness).

Average attendance was over 20 which was not bad considering Summer holidays, and a few heat waves!

Coming up we have

3/9   Khemananda

10/9  Mangala and Keith

17/9  Vajragupta – talking about his new book “Free Time!: from clock-watching to free-flowing, a Buddhist guide”  which you can get on Amazon among other places.

24/9  Week 1 of a 6 week course on Meditation and Buddhism.  This is the “Manchester Course”, which we have not done before at Hertford.

I would definitely recommend you come when Vajragupta is here. He has written some amazing books including “Buddhism Tools for Living your Life” which is one of my personal favourites. We studied this together for over a year, and you will see an excerpt from it below.

Just drop in when you can. Complete beginners are always very welcome.

That’s all for now.

Keith

p.s.  If you want to learn meditation or deepen your practice, why not go on retreat? There are lots available at https://www.lbc.org.uk/homepage-links/retreats/introductory-retreats.html including some yoga and meditation ones.  

If you don’t fancy that, then why not go to a meditation Sunday. They have them regularly at the London Buddhist Centre in Bethnal Green. https://www.lbc.org.uk/events/meditation/meditation-days.html .

There is also an Open Day on Sep 15th, and Vajragupta is leading a day on Sep 22nd.    


p.p.s. Here is a short excerpt from: “Buddhism – Tools for Living your Life” by Vajragupta.


_____________________________   mindfulness meditation Meditation involves, above all, becoming more aware of our hearts and minds. One meditation practice designed to help us cultivate mindfulness is called the mindfulness of breathing.6 In this practice we sit quietly and ‘watch’ the breath. We follow the bodily sensations caused by the flow of the breath. exercise – following the breath For now, we are going to try the breathing meditation in a very simple way. Full instructions for meditation practices are not given in this book. There are books that do this, but it is better to attend a meditation class and receive direction from an experienced teacher. Sitting quietly and comfortably (on a meditation cushion if you know how to sit comfortably, or otherwise on a chair), relax your body for a few minutes, while remaining awake and aware. You might find it best to close your eyes gently, or you may keep them softly open. Then start noticing how your body breathes.

Don’t try to breathe in any special way, just breathe naturally. Feel the sensations of the breath in different parts of the body. Where do you feel the breath? What is the in-breath like? And what about the out-breath? Try to stay focused on the breath. If you notice your mind wandering, just bring it back to attending to the breath. If your mind starts to wander, try to notice this immediately. Do this for up to ten minutes. Afterwards, consider what happened. Was it easy to stay alert and focused, or was it difficult? Were you surprised at the kind of things that went through your mind?   This is how we can begin in meditation, and from that simple starting point, our practice develops further.

I’ll tell you a little of how it worked for me. When I first took up meditation, I did it in rather a mechanical way, watching the breath on one spot of my body, counting the breaths robotically, and trying all the time not to let anything else enter my mind. Although it was too mechanical, at least it got me started. If the teacher had said straight off, ‘be aware of your mind,’ I wouldn’t have known what he meant, or where to start. The first thing I needed to do was just learn to be able to sit and be focused. But after a while, I realized there was more to the practice than rigidly following the breath. Tuning in to the breath enabled my mind to slow a little. There was now enough space for a broader view; I could see more clearly what was going on in my mind and heart. I realized that those thoughts and feelings I was trying to shut out were actually part of me. They were aspects of the mind I was trying to transform. I could not transform them until I let them in, acknowledged them, and came to know them more deeply.

We have to learn to work in a multi-layered kind of way. With some types of distracting thoughts or worries, it might be enough to put them aside and return to the breath. If there is not much energy behind them, this might be sufficient to transform them. But, in other cases, that could take longer.

We might find various ways of working with the breath that help, for example breathing low in the body if we are anxious, or breathing more slowly if we are angry. We sit with the worry or irritation at the same time as we sit with the breath. With this ‘mindfulness with breathing’ we explore the connection between the quality of the breath and our mental and emotional state.7 At other times, we might need to just sit with what is happening in our heart and mind, without attending to the breath at all. Perhaps there is something that nags at us and we need to uncover it, try to reveal its nature. Perhaps we need to reflect on why we have got irritated yet again, or why it is that a certain situation makes us anxious.

So, for awhile at least, we leave the breath and just attend to the issue at hand. But we have made a conscious decision to do this. We haven’t stopped cultivating mindfulness, only adopted a different approach for the time being. Mindfulness meditation is not just a rigid technique; it is away of being with our actual experience, attuned to our hearts and minds, and being able to respond helpfully to what we find there. Our approach needs to be subtle, nuanced according to the strength and nature of what is happening right now. The crucial factor is that we are trying to become more aware, and notice what is happening in our minds, without letting it run away with us.    
© Windhorse Publications

Meditation and Buddhism in the Summer

Hi there,

I hope that you are enjoying the hot weather and that it is not too much for you. Seems like it can’t make up its mind at the moment.

We have some great things coming up on Tuesday evenings:-

6/8 Keith and Leah

13/8 Alex Crowe is coming up from Central London to lead the class. It has been a couple of years since his last visit, so it is high time he came back.

20/8 Karunanatha is leading the class. He is someone that I met on retreat, and then last year he got ordained. He lives in Colchester, but is from Hertford originally, and he comes back to see his father sometimes. Hence the visit.

27/8 Undecided as yet

3/9 Khemananda

10/9 Mangala

17/9 Vajragupta is coming to talk about his new book. Free “Time!: from clock-watching to free-flowing, a Buddhist guide”. He is an extremely good author. I have got all 5 of his books, and can recommend all of them. Not to be missed.

Then on 24/9 we will probably start a new 6 week course.

I hope to see you on some or all of the above.

Till then

Happy meditating!

Keith

p.s. Here is a short excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism – Tools for Living your Life” by Vajragupta.


2 Mindfulness:

knowing yourself

Siddhartha Gautama, the young man who one day became the Buddha, discovered a vital clue about how to pursue his spiritual quest.

He had left the comfort of his home to pursue the spiritual life, and had spent many years making incredible efforts in meditation, striving for Enlightenment with all the willpower he could muster. In the society of that time, some people believed that the way to freedom of the spirit was through denial of the body, so he tried the ascetic path too. He starved himself and tortured his body by meditating for hours in the fierce heat of the sun, but after years of effort it got him nowhere. He realized he was no nearer his goal than the day he had left home. This was a moment of crisis, a low point in his life when a lesser person might have given up in despair. But at precisely this moment a childhood memory returned to him. He intuitively knew this incident contained a vital clue to his search.

He remembered a spring day in his childhood when he had been taken out to see the fields being ploughed for the new season. He was sitting under a rose-apple tree, which was full of delicate, pale blossom. The sun shone and sparkled through the leaves of the trees. It was a lovely scene, full of hope for the coming year, and all this beauty delighted the little boy and transported him, quite naturally and spontaneously, into a meditative state.

Up until that time in his search, he had been striving in meditation with all his mental might. He had been willing his mind into higher states of consciousness. These experiences were supremely blissful while they lasted, but once he ‘came down’ from his meditation, the young man found he was just the same as before.

But on that day, under the rose-apple tree, he’d tasted a different kind of meditative state, one that was unforced and natural.
Rather than wilfully narrowing his mind, he’d experienced a consciousness that was alive and open, as well as calm and concentrated. The result was a mind that was tranquil, steady, and serene.

The traditional legends of the Buddha’s life now go on to tell how, with this new understanding of how to meditate, he sat in a beautiful spot under the shade of a tree, and gained Enlightenment that very night. But maybe it was not quite like that.

Perhaps the young man did have a new understanding, but also had to develop and refine it. He made use of old techniques of meditation, but adapted them. He evolved his own way of delving into the depths of the mind and revealing its potential. Over the weeks and months he steadily meditated, gradually transforming the contents of his mind, until one night he did finally realize that he had found his goal and that his task was complete.5

The path of meditation that the Buddha discovered was the way of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of being in which we pay careful attention to all our experience. This includes our inner thoughts and feelings, as well as our outer experience – the sensations and impressions that come to us through the senses. Whatever we experience we try to imbue with this kind and receptive awareness, but without craving positive experiences or encouraging negative thoughts and emotions. When we do this we become more rooted, more connected with our inner life. Our habits and tendencies become more apparent, and this puts us in a position from which we can begin to change them.

This teaching and practice of mindfulness is central to Buddhism. In the traditional accounts of the Buddha’s life, we see him time and again teaching his followers how to develop mindfulness and exhorting them to maintain it at all times. His very last words were, ‘With mindfulness, strive on.’

For many people, their first encounter with Buddhism is this teaching about mindfulness, and some of the meditation techniques that can help us to develop it. This is a good and obvious place to begin. Without mindfulness, and an understanding of what is going on within our hearts and minds, we cannot really begin to change ourselves and our situation. Mindfulness is the starting point: the opening up of possibility.

The practice of mindfulness was a revelation to me. Although I had studied psychology at university for three years, no one had ever suggested that I could watch my heart and mind in this way, and that I could actually learn about my inner self and then be able to change. In this chapter we will first explore how we can cultivate mindfulness in meditation, and then look at the practice of mindfulness in daily life.

© Windhorse Publications

Tuesday drop in class, Dharma Day and a reflection on suffering

Hi there,

I hope you are enjoying this lovely warm weather. It seems that Summer has finally arrived.

Why not come along and join us at our Tuesday night drop in class. Newcomers and beginners are always very welcome :-

02 July 2019 Keith (video night)
09 July 2019 Mangala
16 July 2019 Padmajata
23 July 2019 Khemananda
30 July 2019 Not sure yet
06 August 2019 Keith and Leah
13 August 2019 Alex Crowe
20 August 2019 Karunanatha

Also July is a very special month as it is a time for one of our very special annual festivals – Dharma Day.

This will be at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Sunday 14th Jul 2019 – 10.00am to 5.00pm, and I think quite a few of us from Hertford will be going. The people at Hertford always love us coming and have coined a name for us “The Hertford Posse”, and sometimes give us a shout out from the stage 🙂

The day is probably not suitable for complete beginners, as there is no meditation instruction or anything, and there will be some devotional ritual. But if you have been along to our classes a few times and like it, then you will love Dharma Day, as these festival days have a beautiful heart opening energy.

Plus there is often time for a short walk by the River Cam at lunchtime.

More info is at https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/dharmaday2019

The info below was pasted from the Cambridge Buddhist Centre website:-

Dharma Day: The Dharma as a Personal Invitation

Dharma Day is a celebration of the Enlightened State communicating itself.

This is the blue jewel in The Three Jewels. Shakyamuni Buddha (the Buddha of our time) first communicated the Dharma to the five ascetics in the Deer Park, 2500 years ago. The first turning of the Wheel of the Dharma. He taught what we now call The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eight-fold Path.

This year’s Dharma Day is a personal invitation to the whole sangha to celebrate this great event. Please come and join our collective meditation, discussion, workshop, friendship, Dharma worship, mantra chanting, readings and joy.

We invite you to bring an offering which expresses the personal invitation the Dharma presented to you.

Please join us for all or part of the day.

Programme:

10am Introduction to the day, followed by Sangha meditation.* Led by Saddharaja

10.40am Tea break

11am ‘The Enlightened One Speaks’ talk* from Saddharaja

12pm Discussion groups with facilitators

1pm Lunch (please bring vegetarian/vegan food to share)

2pm ‘Offerings to the Dharma: Everything Belongs’. Inclusive meditation, workshop and mini-puja. All welcome. Led by the Families Sangha and Amarachandra in the Lower Shrine Room.

3.30pm Dharma Day puja.* Led by Jinamati

5pm Finish and clear up

*The quiet and meditative nature of these events, with sometimes long periods of silence, mean they are not suitable for children to attend.

See you at a Tuesday night and/or Dharma Day hopefully.

All the best

Keith

p.s. Here is a short excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism – Tools for Living your Life” by Vajragupta.

Vajragupta will actually be visiting us on 17th September to lead the meditation and talk about his new book on time “Free Time!: from clock-watching to free-flowing, a Buddhist guide” . It will be a very special evening, so put it in your diaries now!


  1. suffering

The fourth and final reminder is that there is suffering in life. We try to look honestly at our own lives and to acknowledge or admit those things – large or small – that we find unsatisfactory. They might be physical discomforts or hardships, painful relationships, or dissatisfaction with an aspect of life such as our job. We can try to see that all this is part of life. Everyone experiences dissatisfaction; not just us.

This doesn’t imply that we should be passive in relation to difficulties and not try to put them right where possible. It is rather that reflecting in this way can help us relate to our suffering or dissatisfaction more lightly, and avoid unhelpful responses such as self-pity. We can also see that since the world is large and complex and ever changing, we are never going to get things exactly how we want them.

If we watch TV or look in newspapers, we soon become aware of suffering on a larger scale. In the world around us we see conflict, oppression, famine, and natural disasters. Closer to home we see sickness, the indignity of old age, mental illness, depression, anxiety, stress. We see that even people who have so much materially are often unhappy and restless, and can behave in ways that cause themselves more suffering.

Maybe we feel we don’t need to be reminded of this. Why would we want to think about such things? Awareness of suffering can be uncomfortable, so sometimes we want to forget it, shut it out, and desensitize ourselves. But this fourth reflection encourages us to be aware of the reality of this side of life. Challenging though it is, it might help us to avoid being complacent about our lives. Like the first reminder, it helps us to see how lucky we are, most of the time. It can also discourage any tendency to think of the Buddhist life being about creating a cosy, peaceful escape from the world, and help us instead to be compassionately aware of the world. It can encourage us to make the most of opportunities to act with kindness and relieve suffering whenever we can.

If, however, we do feel ourselves becoming despondent or overwhelmed, it is good to go back to the first reminder and restore a sense of the preciousness of life.

I can’t entirely avoid suffering.
There will be times of illness and discomfort.
There will be times when life doesn’t give me what I want.
Sometimes people, even trusted friends, will disappoint me.
This is part of life.

It happens to me, and it happens to everyone.
So how should I resolve to respond to suffering in my life?

Life is constant change.
I will never get everything in my life to stay just how I want!
I should resolve to remember this truth.

All around me I see so much suffering.
On TV there are wars, famines, or disasters.
On the streets I see people suffering stress, old age, or lack of meaning.
In nature, many animals are either hunting or being hunted.
There is always a struggle for survival.

Sometimes I can act with kindness and relieve suffering.
Let me resolve to try to do this when I can.
At other times, I cannot take away all the suffering I see.
But at least I can be aware of the pain of others.
I can hold their suffering – tenderly – in my heart.


When people use these reflections they are often surprised at how stirring they can be, and also how they can feel strangely liberating. They seem to bring us back to that sense of what is essential, who we really are, and what truly matters about our lives.

It is with this sense of the stories of our individual lives, and our desire to discover their deepest possibilities, that the Buddhist life begins. We may feel increasing discontent at splashing around in the shallows, and want to swim into the deep. There is an emerging awareness of old habits of behaviour, patterns of communication, and ways of thinking that hold us back. We want to break out and change direction. But we often need help in knowing how to go about this, and Buddhism offers a wide range of practical methods for bringing about this self-transformation. It is to these tools for living your life that we now turn.

© Windhorse Publications

New Drop in Meditation and Buddhism Course starting Tuesday 8th Jan 2019

You are warmly invited to come to a six-week (ie 6 Tuesday evenings) course for anyone wanting to learn how to meditate or find out about Buddhism or who wants to deepen their knowledge or practice.
 
All are welcome including total beginners, and people who know nothing about meditation or Buddhism. You certainly do not have to “be a Buddhist” or anything like that.
 
Many people have found these courses extremely useful and have made massive shifts in their life from them (if they carry on practising and attending after the course).
 
People report these shifts especially in areas such as more happiness, less anxiety and less negative emotions. The general goal is to be more content, more aware, have more loving kindness, joy, and ultimately more freedom from our reactive mind.
 
Repetition is important in Buddhism because there are different levels of depth, experience and understanding. If you have been before you will build on what you have learned and be able to go a bit deeper this time, so it is also suitable for seasoned meditators.
 
You can download a meditation diary at http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/HBG-6-week-med-course4-complete.pdf which has a different question every day to work with and record your experience during the course. This is totally optional, but if you do it, it will definitely help you have a deeper meditation experience.
 
If you want more information about the styles of meditation we teach you can go to http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/meditation/ where there are also links to downloadable mp3s that can guide you while you meditate, as well as youtube videos etc.
 
It’s fine if you can’t manage to come to every week, each one can be enjoyed independently so just come along and drop into any that you can make. Although like anything, the more you put into it, and the more you attend, the more you will get out of it.
 
The classes will be very friendly, welcoming and a lot of fun. There will be a tea and biscuit break half way through, so there will be a lot of opportunity to make new friends.
 
We don’t charge a fee, because Buddhists, we try and practice generosity. But we do have costs of course, so we do invite people to make a donation.
 
The course is held at our usual venue of the Millbridge Rooms (opposite Hertford Theatre). See the link below for a screenshot of our front door, and recommended car parks:
 
http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/location/
 
6 Tuesday evenings starting 8th Jan 2019 and after it finishes there will be a 6 week intermediate level course that is designed to follow on directly after it.
 
It is best to get there between 7.00 pm and 7.15pm, as we start shortly after that. Each class will finish at 9.45pm.
 
There is no need to bring anything apart from an open mind and willingness to explore your experience. However if you want to bring any cushions, mats or portable chairs from home you are very welcome.
 
If you cannot come to this course, you can also come any Tuesday throughout the year as we always warmly welcome any newcomers and beginners, and give full instruction.
 
All Tuesdays are drop in, and open to newcomers.
 
If you have any questions, please leave a message below, or alternatively direct message us on Facebook .
 
Hope to see you at the course 🙂
 
Keith

Free 6 week Meditation and Buddhism Course starting 11th Sep

You are warmly invited to come to a six-week course for anyone wanting to learn how to meditate or find out about Buddhism or who wants to deepen their knowledge or practice.
 
All are welcome including total beginners, and people who know nothing about meditation or Buddhism. You certainly do not have to “be a Buddhist” or anything like that.
 
Many people have found these courses extremely useful and have made massive shifts in their life from them (if they carry on practising and attending after the course).
 
People report these shifts especially in areas such as more happiness, less anxiety and less negative emotions. The general goal is to be more content, more aware, have more loving kindness, joy, and ultimately more freedom from our reactive mind.
 
Repitition is important in Buddhism because there are different levels of depth, experience and understanding. If you have been before you will build on what you have learned and be able to go a bit deeper this time, so it is also suitable for seasoned meditators.
 
You can download a meditation diary at http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/HBG-6-week-med-course4-complete.pdf which has a different question every day to work with and record your experience during the course. This is totally optional, but if you do it, it will definitely help you have a deeper meditation experience.
 
If you want more information about the styles of meditation we teach you can go to http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/meditation/ where there are also links to downloadable mp3s that can guide you while you meditate, as well as youtube videos etc.
 
It’s fine if you can’t manage to come to every week, each one can be enjoyed independently so just come along to any that you can make. Although like anything, the more you put into it, and the more you attend, the more you will get out of it.
 
The classes will be very friendly, welcoming and a lot of fun. There will be a tea and biscuit break half way through, so there will be a lot of opportunity to make new friends.
 
We don’t charge a fee, because Buddhists, we try and practice generosity. But we do have costs of course, so we do invite people to make a donation. A suggested amount is £5 per session, and this is completely optional.
 
The course is held at our usual venue of the Millbridge Rooms (opposite Hertford Theatre). See the link below for a screenshot of our front door, and recommended car parks:
 
http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/location/
 
6 Tuesday evenings starting 11th Sep 2018 and the last one is on 16th Oct.
 
It is best to get there between 7.00 pm and 7.15pm, as we start shortly after that. Each class will finish at 9.45pm.
 
A lot of people may come, and we only have limited spaces, so please get there early (anytime after 7.00pm) to avoid disappointment. We have had 45 chairs and 10 sets of meditation cushions, and we have reached full capacity before.
 
There is no need to bring anything apart from an open mind and willingness to explore your experience. However if you want to bring any cushions, mats or portable chairs from home you are very welcome.
 
If you cannot come to this course, you can also come any Tuesday throughout the year as we always warmly welcome any newcomers and beginners, and give full instruction.
 
If you have any questions, please leave a message below, or alternatively direct message us on Facebook .
 
Hope to see you at the course 🙂
 
Keith

Our weekend retreat: 26-28th October 2018

We welcome you to enjoy a weekend retreat with the Hertford Buddhist Group in Burwell. This weekend is for all levels of experience including complete beginners.

Khemananda, Mangala, Nandaketu, Padmajata and Suvarnagarbha have provisionally agreed to all come and lead this together. Hopefully they can all make it.

It is a chance for you to get to know everybody a lot better, and to go a lot deeper into the meditative experience. They are a lot of fun.

Each day of the retreat has a structured programme with some meditation, talks and discussion groups, as well as a lot of breaks and free time to relax, have a chat over some tea and biscuits, or to go for a walk.

Awareness – We recommend that, if you can, you try to give yourself a break from using electronic devices including phones during the retreat. This will make the retreat more powerful for you, as it is about giving you an opportunity to really get away from everything for a couple of days. If there is an emergency, your friends and family can call an emergency contact number, and we will pass the message on to you.

These weekends fill up very quickly, so do book early to avoid disappointment.

Practical Details
Venue: Burwell House, Silver St, Burwell, Cambridge CB25 0EF

Burwell House

This retreats is for adults only (i.e. over 18)

Car parking is available

Arrival – Please arrive between 5pm and 6pm on the first day of your retreat. Retreats start with a supper at about 6pm. If you are arriving late, that is OK, but please let us know so that we can keep you some supper!

Accommodation – Is in single-sex bedrooms shared with other retreatants. Please contact us at the time of your booking to discuss your needs, if this is an issue for you. If you are coming with a friend
and wish to be accommodated in the same shared bedroom as them, please inform us when booking.

Food – Is healthy, tasty and vegan / vegetarian and is prepared together. Cows’ milk is available. Tea and coffee is available at anytime. There is a small amount of fridge space if you need to bring food for special dietary requirements.

Restricted diets – Can be provided, please let us know when you first book. To help our volunteer cooks, please keep dietary requests to absolutely essential medical requirements only. Thank you

Helping out – You will be asked to help with domestic tasks: washing up, etc. and a clear up at the end of the retreat.

Cancellation – Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel, as there may be other people waiting for a place on the retreat to become available.

Confirmation – No booking is final until payment is received in full.

Cost of retreat: (accommodation and food included): £120 .
Concessionary rate (low waged) of £90
and rate if broke of £60

So when you fill in the form to book the retreat, you can just select the rate that is most appropriate for your situation.

This is a lot cheaper than other locations, eg the London Buddhist Centre weekend retreats at Vajrasana cost £190!

If would like to come, but cannot afford the full price, then please ask, as it may be possible to give a bursary for some of the cost from our bursary fund.

If you have any questions at all, please ask or message us.

To book, please fill in the form at https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/booking1 and transfer your payment. (Payment details are on that page).

Look forward to seeing you there. It will be amazing!!

Our Spring Meditation and Buddhism Course

You are warmly invited to come to a six-week course for anyone wanting to learn how to meditate or find out about Buddhism or who wants to deepen their knowledge or practice.

 All are welcome including total beginners, and people who know nothing about meditation or Buddhism.
 
It is also suitable for seasoned meditators to come and to really go back to basics and give their practice a real boost. It will recap some of the teachings from the previous course and also introduce new items, so it really doesn’t matter whether you came on that course or not.
 
You can download a meditation diary at http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/HBG-6-week-med-course4-complete.pdf which has a different question every day to work with and record your experience during the course. This is totally optional, but if you do it, it will definitely help you have a deeper meditation experience.
 
If you want more information about the styles of meditation we teach you can go to http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/meditation/ where there are also links to downloadable mp3s that can guide you while you meditate, as well as youtube videos etc.
 
It’s fine if you can’t manage to come to every class, each one can be enjoyed independently so just come along to any that you can make. Although like anything, the more you put into it, and the more you attend, the more you will get out of it.
 
The classes will be very friendly, welcoming and a lot of fun. There will be a tea and biscuit break half way through, so there will be a lot of opportunity to make new friends.
 
We don’t charge a fee but instead ask for a donation towards our costs. A suggested amount is £5 per session.
 
The course is held at our usual venue of the Millbridge Rooms (opposite Hertford Theatre).
 
 
6 Tuesday evenings starting 17th April 2018 and the last one is on 22nd May.
Meditation Talk
17-Apr Keith Khemananda
24-Apr Keith Leah
01-May Keith Mangala
08-May Keith Khemananda
15-May Leah Padmajata
22-May Keith Keith
 
Each evening will start very promptly at 7.30 pm, so best to get there between 7.00 pm and 7.15pm. Each class will finish at 9.45pm.
 
A lot of people may come, and we only have limited spaces, so please get there early (anytime after 7.00pm) to avoid disappointment. At our last course we had 51 people on the first night which was very close to the capacity of the room.
 
If you have any questions, please leave a message below, or alternatively direct message us on Facebook .
 
Hope to see you at the course 🙂
 
Keith

Vajragupta’s visit

 

He really enjoyed meeting us, and will hopefully come again. He sent an email saying “I really enjoyed visiting the group… a great bunch!”

He lead the metta bhavana meditation using a very powerful method using the breath that I had not come across before.

I asked him where he got it from, and he told it was from chapter 4 of the book “Mindful Emotion – a short course in kindness” by Dr Paramandhu Groves and Dr Jed Shamel. There is a 20 minute guided meditation you can listen along to at https://kindnessbehaviourtraining.com/downloads-chapter-4/ . This book goes through different methods of doing the metta bhavana, so it might be of interest if you wanted to deepen your practice of this, or were having difficulties with it.

It was a very inspiring evening. Vajragupta talked about his love for solitary retreats especially in wild places and promoted his new book Wild Awake https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Awake-Alone-Offl…/…/ref=sr_1_1