Learn meditation for free in our 6 week course starting Tuesday 15th Sep

Hi everyone.

Learn meditation for free in our 6 week course starting Tuesday 15th Sep.

Last Monday class is on 7th Sep. Then on Tuesday 15th Sep we start a free six week zoom meditation course that is suitable for complete beginners as well as old hands.

We took a vote in our Facebook group and there was a clear majority for Tuesday over Monday (for whatever reason), so we went with that.

Hope to see you there 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Best to arrive about 7.20pm or earlier, as we will start promptly at 7.30pm.

It is the same link as always which is:–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA

You can also download a meditation workbook pdf with 32 pages that accompanies the course.

It includes a meditation diary, so you can have a different question to explore every day during your meditation for 6 days each week (Wednesday to Monday) for 6 weeks (36 questions). Plus there are some very deep and useful teachings on our two meditation practices that are contained in the notes.

If you use them as guidance before and after you meditate, they will help you go deeper into the practices.

Monday 7th Sep: Helen will be leading an evening around the issue of how we as individuals can be part of a spiritual community which aspires to avoid the perils of conforming to group pressure, and towing the party line etc.

Tuesday 15th Sep: 6 week meditation course starts. Week one led by myself

Tuesday 22nd Sep: Week two led by Paramajyoti

Tuesday 29th Sep: Week three


Hope to see you at one or more of these!

all the best


p.s. from one of my favourite books:

Metta Bhavana (loving kindness meditation) Stage 1:ourselves

I’ve recently taught the metta bhavana to groups of carers – people who are caring long-term for a severely ill or disabled family member. They are ordinary people from whom so much energy and self-sacrifice is required on an ongoing basis. They relate very easily to this need for self-empathy, for the time to look at their own emotional resources, in order to be able to go on coping with the daily demands of caring. Sometimes they have to deal with feelings of guilt. If the pressures on them are great, they can understandably start to feel anger towards the person for whom they are caring. On top of this, they feel guilty about feeling anger. Self-empathy can help bring to this a kindness and understanding of one’s humanity and limitations. At other times they can feel equally uneasy about feeling good – why should they feel happy when their near and dear one is in pain? Self-empathy can help them realize that they are human beings that deserve happiness too. Also, if they are able to feel more emotionally buoyant and resilient, this is not selfish because it means they will have the emotional resources carry on helping others.

As well as working with negative feelings towards ourselves, we can also remind ourselves of our positive qualities. We can look at our lives and see that we do act with loving-kindness much of the time, even if it is sometimes mixed with other motives, or even if we don’t always feel hugely positive. But we can give ourselves credit for what is positive.

Extending on from this, we can also use this stage of the practice to strengthen positive qualities, or to develop new ones. I often work by imagining qualities that I would like to develop. I try to envisage what it would be like to have those qualities. For example, if I’ve noticed myself getting irritated in meetings at work, I imagine how it might be possible to make my points in the meeting without the irritation, and with more kindness to others. I sit trying to be open to the possibility. Sometimes this imaginative approach helps me see my potential more clearly. I can sense quite tangibly how I could be different. Then I actually start to feel different.

We might also spend time reflecting on all that is good in our lives, cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation (a bit like the reminder of the preciousness of life in Chapter 1). By doing this, we can gain a different perspective on the things we tend to moan about – we realize that they are not that bad. We can feel richer, more expansive, and warmed up – ready for the subsequent stages of the practice.

exercise – imagining new possibilities

You can try the various ideas and approaches suggested above in your meditation practice. It would probably be best to spread them out over a few weeks, rather than trying them all at once. You could take notes as you go, and see if there are some you find more helpful than others.

If you already do the loving-kindness practice, you can incorporate them into that. If not, you could start by spending five minutes on one of the approaches suggested above. For example, after relaxing the body and watching the breath for a while, you could try imagining new possibilities. Bring to mind particular, specific situations in which you have a desire to be different, and recall what you are like in them, how you actually feel in your heart, mind, and body. Allow a sense of how you could be different to emerge, of how you could approach those situations in a new way.

Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications

Coming up in August

Hi there,

I hope that you are enjoying the warm weather. It is lovely to get a bit of sunshine as well as a relaxation of the lockdown.

Regarding physically meeting as a group together things are still very much in limbo. Nothing is planned at the moment.
So let’s make the most of zoom for now.

Join us on Monday evenings 7.30 to 9.30

The link is the same as always which is:–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA

I am looking forward to seeing you at some of these. Beginners are very welcome.

Coming up:-
03 August 2020 Keith (with special segment dedicated to the arts)

10 August 2020 Padmajata

17 August 2020 Amber

24 August 2020 Paramajyoti

31 August 2020 Svadhi??

Also if you can make it, the LBC are doing a lot of live classes. .

I have been doing the 8am morning meditations. It is a really lovely way to start the day.

They also have a retreat starting tomorrow:

It is free and beginners are welcome. You can just drop into the sessions that you want to, you don’t have to do the whole thing.

If you sign up for the retreat you will be asked what your local centre is. Many of us from Hertford are ticking the Cambridge box for this, and it means we are more likely to see each other in the breakout groups. I hope that you have a lovely August.

Best wishes Keith
First stage of metta bhavana
People are sometimes surprised that a meditation in which we are learning to love should start with ourselves. But the practice is just acknowledging the psychological truth that we cannot go out to others in an emotionally positive way unless we have positive emotion for ourselves. We first need a sense of our own self-worth and an appreciation of life and its potential. In our culture this seems difficult for some people. An unforgiving self-criticism, or subtle, underlying sense of worthlessness, is surprisingly common.

Most of us talk to ourselves; there is an internal voice providing us with a running commentary on our day. What is the emotional tone of this voice? Are we talking to ourselves in a way in which we wouldn’t dare talk to others? Is the voice harsh, moaning, or over-critical? If so, can we soften the voice, and let it be kinder and more forgiving?

Or is it a voice of self-pity, feeling let down by other people and blaming the world for our misery? Such self-pity is corrosive. Even if we have been let down by others, it is no use wallowing in these feelings. Eventually we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, and start again. In order to be able to do this, we need to acknowledge our pain, admit to ourselves that we were hurt, and bring to this hurt sense of kindness.

Perhaps our inner voice isn’t usually so negative, but we notice that it can become so in certain situations. When things don’t go our way, this might trigger a particular way in which we speak to ourselves. It might be worth exploring all this in meditation and in daily life.

This first stage of the meditation may also help us find the emotional resources to deal with stress and difficulty in our lives. If life is currently hard or painful, we can practise ‘self-empathy’. We take the time to listen to ourselves, to hear about what is difficult, with kindness and understanding. We do the same with ourselves as we would with a friend who was suffering – we try just to listen with empathy.

Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications

Coming up in July

Hi there,

I hope all is well with you.

I think some of us are getting a bit fed up with the lockdown, but can’t really go back to normal just yet, so are in a bit of a limbo.

Why not come and join us in our zoom meetings on Monday evenings:

6/7 Keith
13/7 Amber
20/7 Paramajyoti
27/7 Padmajata
3/8 Danapriya (with the launch of his new book)

I am looking forward to seeing you at some of these.

The link is the same as always which is:–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA

Also if you can make it, the LBC are doing a lot of live classes. .

I have been doing the 8am morning meditations. It is a really lovely way to start the day.

All the very best


p.s. The photo is a blast from Nandavajra’s visit in 2016

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)

3 Loving-kindness:

learning to love

In the previous chapter we explored how the cultivation of mindfulness leads to greater self-awareness. In this chapter we will be looking at how to become more aware of others.

Although we may aspire to being more kind, or patient, or calm, the heart doesn’t always respond the way our head thinks it should. We need other ways of connecting to a heart that is more open and at ease, more able to love.

Loving-kindness can be defined as a warm, concerned, awareness of ourselves and other people. When we love, we want others to be happy and to have what they need to be truly happy. This sounds very nice in theory, but a difficulty arises when another person’s needs or wants do not coincide with our own. It is in these situations that our relationships with people are really tested. Loving does not entail ignoring our own needs, but neither does it mean always putting our needs above those of everyone else.

Sometimes you meet people who behave in one or other of these extreme ways. The martyr constantly sacrifices himself or herself, but deep down is full of resentment, while the immaturely selfish person goes about life completely oblivious of other people. The art of loving lies in nurturing awareness of both our own and others’ needs, negotiating between them appropriately and with kindness and generosity of spirit.

There is a meditation practice designed to help develop this loving heart, known traditionally as the metta bhavana. These are two Pali words, the first of which is usually translated ‘loving-kindness’, the second as ‘cultivation’ or ‘development’. So in this chapter we are going to be exploring the cultivation of loving-kindness. We will consider how we can develop love and positive emotion by looking at how this particular meditation practice works.

The meditation is performed in five stages. While sitting quietly, you cultivate this well-wishing attitude first towards yourself, then towards a good friend, then a ‘neutral’ person (someone you don’t know well, or don’t strongly like or dislike), then towards someone you find difficult, and then to as many living beings as possible – gradually expanding out and including more and more. So we can see that the loving-kindness meditation is structured in a way that reflects the need to be aware of self as well as of others.

When we first take up this practice, we might do it very simply. For example, as you choose a person to bring to mind in each of the five stages, you just quietly say certain words or phrases to yourself, such as ‘May I/they be well,’ ‘may I/they be happy,’ ‘may I/they be free from suffering,’ ‘may I/they fulfil my/their highest potential.’ Just dropping these phrases into your heart can be like dropping pebbles into a deep pool – a ripple expands outwards. It may be surprising that something so simple can work, but currents of more positive emotion can indeed be coaxed into being, or positive emotion that is already present cane given more momentum and strength.

However, as we saw in the previous chapter when we explored the mindfulness of breathing, meditation involves more than mechanically counting breaths or reciting phrases. As we gain experience in the practice, we learn to take a broader, more varied approach. It is good to experiment and use our imagination – any method that helps us be more emotionally aware and develop loving-kindness is valid. So we will now look at the meditation stage by stage and examine some possible techniques.
© Windhorse Publications

Coming up in June

Hi everyone,

Another month has come and gone. I hope you and your circle of friends and family have been keeping well. Many people are facing very difficult times at the moment.

I personally find that what helps me a lot is to stay connected with my spiritual friends and spiritual vision by attending as many sangha zoom groups as I can.

We continue to meet every Monday night from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Get there a bit early if you can. The link is the same as always which is:–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA

Coming up we have:

8/6 – Padmajata
15/6 – Paramajyoti
22/6 – Mangala

then we will continue to meet every single Monday at the same time until further notice.

I look forward to seeing you at some (or all) of these.

I can also recommend which has a very full programme of morning, lunchtime and evening classes. I personally have been joining in the 8am meditation for regulars, as I find it very connecting to meditate with 150+ other people.

All the very best


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)

Bare awareness and continuity of purpose (contiuned)

Here is an example of this continuity of purpose in action. Let’s say that at your workplace you are responsible for the maintenance of the buildings. You’ve recently noticed in your meditation a growing anxiety centred on your job. Your purpose is to become less anxious, so you remember this in your meditation over the next few days. You keep coming back to that anxiety and, using the breath, try to work with it appropriately. Not only that, you retain this sense of purpose at work. You start examining when and why you get anxious. Perhaps you notice that the anxiety arises when you leave things to the last moment, so you try to become more organized. And then you extend your continuity of purpose even further. Over the next few weeks you reflect more deeply on the anxious patterns, and perhaps discover an underlying view that is unhelpful and contributing to the anxiety.

This semi-conscious belief is that you should be able to get things done and finished. You realize you are always racing to bring things to a complete and perfect state by the end of the week, but you now see that, in reality, there is no such thing as finished. With the maintenance of a large old building there will always be another job to do. So you take this little insight back into your meditation and try to loosen up, and relax unhelpful attitudes and expectations. Then you try to apply this quality of looseness back at work, and see if there are further changes to be made to the way you function. In this way, you are all the time retaining your sense of purpose, exploring your life more and more deeply, bringing it back to meditation and bringing meditation into your life.

This quality of mindfulness isn’t about being delicate. Builders can be just as mindful as ballet dancers. In fact, mindfulness makes us more robust and steady. In the traditional stories about the Buddha, he is often described as being like an elephant. At that time, elephants would have been associated with royalty, but we can see that comparing the Buddha to an elephant might also have been a way of describing his mindfulness. Elephants are big, but they are not clumsy. In fact, they move in a very solid, definite, and also graceful kind of way. Apparently, elephants also look at things with a very steady gaze, and when they turn to look, they turn their whole bodies. I imagine that if an elephant was looking at us, we would feel we were receiving very full attention.

Mindfulness does also have a simple beauty to it. When I was a teenager, my family went on holiday to Guernsey, where we stayed with an old friend of my mother. Boop, as she was known, was not a Buddhist, but she had practised meditation and yoga for many years. I can remember thinking there was something different about her, but I didn’t know what it was. I would now say that she had a depth of mindfulness such as I’d not encountered before: her brown eyes were clear and sparkling, her face was open and expressive, and she moved with elegance and poise. Above all, she seemed self-aware and understanding of others. This impressed me deeply and, probably without her ever knowing it, she was a significant influence on my life.

Coming up in May

Hi there,

The people that I know all have their own unique experience in this time.

Some of my friends are quite enjoying a stepping back from the business of their previous lives, while others are suffering in many different ways that include grief over the loss of a loved one, illness, loneliness, boredom, worrying about money etc.

Whatever your experience and situation I believe it is important to stay connected with our friends. One way of doing this is to join us on our weekly zoom calls on Monday night at 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

If you have not registered for it then just go to–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA . The system will then email you a link for the actual zoom meeting. You just need to click the words “Click here to join” in that email before 7.30 tonight. If you have registered for the last one, that will count for all future sessions (well at least for the next few months), and you do not need to register again. You just click the same “Click here to join” link. But if you have lost that email, just register again at the link above.

Mangala is leading the class on 4th May, and Danapriya is leading it on 11th May.

There are a lot of other Triratna zoom classes also available. Just check and for example.

In particular London Buddhist Centre is very active and they are doing an online course from 4th May to 10th May

Also Buddha Day is the biggest festival day in the Buddhist world, and there is a worldwide Buddha Day zoom celebration on Saturday 9th May and Sunday 10th May . This is a joint celebration with hosted by people from New Zealand, Australia, India, UK, Mainland Europe, Mexico and USA . It should be a fantastic day, and hopefully see you at some of these sessions.

Keep safe, well and happy.


Coming up – Amber and Vajragupta

Our Zoom class has moved to Tuesday nights – 7.30pm

Amber is leading it 31st March

and Vajragupta has very kindly agreed to lead our zoom class on 7th April.

Everyone welcome including beginners. You do not have to “be a Buddhist” or to know anything about meditation.

An evening of meditation, talk and discussion.

He has written many books, and his visited our Hertford group twice (in real life!)

We actually studied his book “Buddhism: Tools for Living your Life” together for about a year. Like all his books it has a lot of depth and is very easy to read for a beginner. It is highly recommended if you would like to find out more about Buddhism.

His warmth and open heartedness shine through his words. It feels like reading a letter from a close friend.

He has recently become the chair of Croydon Buddhist Centre and you can see some of his recent Facebook lives at .

Register for this meeting by clicking:–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. It has a link in it near the bottom saying “Click here to join”. You need to click that link at the start time.

I think if you already registered in previous weeks you will not need to do so again as you will already be registered and you can use the same link. But if you have lost your link or email, just register again (as many times as you like!) with the same email address and you will go to a page with the join link.

It is actually a lot simpler that it sounds!

See you on zoom!


See you tonight! and more info about our online meetings.

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that we are having an online meeting tonight at 7.30pm for about a couple of hours. Already 77 people have registered for this.

I am very happy that my good friend Danapriya has kindly agreed to lead it.

He set up the East Kent Buddhist Group in Deal around the same time as Rob and Helen set up the Hertford Buddhist Group (about 11 years ago). Right from the start the Deal group was a massive success and has lots of homegrown order members etc.

I first met him about 10 years at Padmaloka and I realised he could help us, so I put him in touch with Rob and he emailed a lot of great ideas to us. Later on at retreats at Adhisthana he gave a talk on how to make your Buddhist group thrive, and I got a lot more good ideas from him which have helped us make the Hertford group what it is today.

Also he is a close friend of Khemananda’s who many of you know well, and it was actually Khemananda who told Danapriya what we were doing with our zoom meetings.

I have been inviting Danapriya for years to come to Hertford, but the drive from Deal was a bit too far. Fortunately zoom makes it very easy.

He has also written a book which will be published in the summer: “It’s Not Out There: How to see differently and live an extraordinary, ordinary life “. More info is on his website .

The evening will be useful for him too, as he wants to get more confidence using zoom to conduct meetings, so I said he could use us as guinea pigs!

It will be a great evening. Not to be missed!

If you have not registered for it then just go to–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA . You just need to click the words “Click here to join” in the page that follows before 7.30 tonight.

If you have registered for the last one, that will count for all future sessions (well at least for the next few months), and you do not need to register again. You just click the same “Click here to join” link. But if you have lost that email, just register again at the link above using the same email address.

It works on smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop (if it has microphone and webcam). But it is much better if you use a laptop or desktop as you can do text chat more easily etc.

This week the meeting is on Monday. From next week onwards we are moving to Tuesdays.

I am really looking forward to having you join this online community. Although many of us are based in Hertford at the moment, I want to reach out and include anyone in the world who would like to be part of this. Also, you do not have to “be a Buddhist”. Newcomers are always welcome.

You are also very welcome to join our thriving and friendly Facebook group if you like: . Please comment on there about your life, your situation, and also about these meetings.

Or if you don’t like Facebook, then you can look at our blog

I am also starting a youtube channel that will show previous talks. It already has Mangala’s on there. Please subscribe . Once we get to 100 subscribers I am able to change the name to something a bit more user friendly.

Some meetings will be more focussed on meditation, others on Buddhism. Some will have a lot of talking by the leader, whereas others will have more interaction and discussion.

I like to mix things up a bit to get a bit of variety.

One advantage of all this is that it makes it very easy for people to join us. I will try and find some more great leaders in the weeks to come.

Hopefully you and your loved ones are staying safe and well in this time.

See you online!


All classes cancelled with immediate effect due to the coronavirus. Join us online instead!

Hi everybody,

There is new official Government advice given today on the BBC news webpage: ‘Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said everyone in the UK should now avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others and to fight coronavirus. He said people should work from home and avoid pubs, club, theatres where possible, as part of a range of stringent new measures.’

We will of course follow that advice and close down the Tuesday class at the Millbridge Rooms with immediate effect. No class tomorrow or in the foreseeable future.

Of course we are hoping to restart things back up again as soon as the situation improves.

In the mean time, please stay connected with the sangha online as much as you can.

Our new Facebook group already has 49 members:

And we have a zoom meeting tonight at 7.30pm and weekly thereafter. You have to register for it in advance at–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA . You can download the free software (which gives a better experience), or you can do it through a browser. But you will need a mic and camera. So either a desktop with these, or a laptop, tablet or phone.

Tonight Mangala will be talking about the coronavirus and Buddhist practice. And it will be followed by an optional group chat. You can log off when you like.

It will be tonight and next Monday (23rd), then it will move to Tuesday nights as from Tuesday the 31st March.

with much metta


(and on behalf of Leah, Rob, Helen, and all our spiritual friends and advisors)

p.s. Amber is also cancelling her yoga class with immediate effect. No class tomorrow.

Coming up in March, April and May

Hi everybody,

By the way the photo is from Jnanavaca’s recent visit.

1) Coming up at the Hertford Buddhist Group:

10/3 – Padmajata
17/3 – Mangala and Keith
24/3 – Amber
31/3 – not yet known
7/4 – Padmajata
and then on 12/5 – Maitreyabandhu (author of the meditation course we do sometimes and several books including “Life with Full Attention”)

2) There is a “What is a mitra” day at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Sunday the 19th April, so if you would like to know more about what this means, please book up details on their website – . There is a link to events at the top of the page.

You can also download and read a pdf about being a mitra on the hertfordbuddhistgroup website downloads page. It is also available as a hard copy that we distribute sometimes on Tuesday evenings.

Becoming a mitra (it means “friend”) is the next logical step if you have been coming for 6 months or more and want to deepen your practice and/or connection with the sangha. I would highly recommend it.

3) Also you might be interested in a joint retreat of the Hertford and Letchworth sanghas. May 15th to May 17th in Newmarket led by Padmajata and Yashodaka. The Old Stable House Retreat Centre, Newmarket. Theme : Who is the Buddha? On the retreat we will be exploring various dimensions of the Buddha – historical, archetypal/mythic and mysterious, through meditation, ritual, discussion, and being a Sangha together.

To come on the retreat you should be familiar with both meditation practices (mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana), and be open to participating in Buddhist ritual.

Price £100 full rate (reduced rates are available)

To book or for more info email

4) Judging by the top stories on the BBC news website, I am sure many of us are concerned about the covid 19 coronavirus, so I wanted to say a few words about that. Also two of my friends have been told to work from home this week because of it, so things seem to be coming closer to home. Many of us alternate between denial, trying to shove it under the carpet, laugh it off and the opposite extreme of panic and paranoia.

The best strategy I believe is to keep a level head and take sensible precautions. Personally I am carrying on pretty much as usual, but trying to implement good hygiene habits now – things like washing my hands more, and keeping a bit more social distance (stopping handshakes, hugs, kissing etc). At some point the virus will come to Hertford, so it is prudent to have good habits already in place to reduce the chance of giving or receiving this thing.

From a Buddhist point of view, it is a reminder that if we are too attached to everything just being totally safe, secure and lasting for ever, then we are just going to cause ourselves more suffering. Existence is just not like that.

So it is better to take sensible precautions, carry on with our practices, live in the moment, let go, and accept and embrace things that we have no control over.

Hopefully our Hertford Buddhist Group will remain a sanctuary of sanity, community and joy.

As the Buddha said so beautifully in chapter 15 of the Dharmapada:

Happy indeed we live who are free from hatred among those who still hate. In the midst of hate-filled men, we live free from hatred.

Happy indeed we live who are free from disease among those still diseased. In the midst of diseased men, we live free from disease.

Happy indeed we live who are free from worry among those who are still worried. In the midst of worried men, we live free from worry.

Happy indeed we live who have nothing of our own. We shall feed on joy, just like the radiant devas (gods).

or in another translation:

Blessed indeed are we who live among those who hate, hating no one; amidst those who hate, let us dwell without hatred

Blessed indeed are we who live among those who are ailing, without ailments; amidst those who are so afflicted, let us live in good health.

Blessed indeed are we who live among those who are yearning for sense delights, without yearning for such things; amidst those who are yearning for sense delights, let us dwell without yearning.

Happy indeed are we who live without possessions. Let us feed on happiness, like the radiant gods (who feed on spiritual bliss).

See you soon hopefully