What is meditation?
Meditation is based on simple attention. Our attention can be caught by all the usual demands of daily life; by thoughts and feelings, doubts and anxieties, our ideas about ourselves and how we often prefer things to be other than they are. Occasionally we may become aware of another aspect of ourself which is stable and unmoving; that which hasn’t changed throughout life. It is an aspect of being which is in everyone; it is always peaceful and always the same. Mental and emotional activity pull us away from this stable foundation, making us feel separate, without peace or harmony.
Stability, peace and harmony are in fact natural to us, but are usually overlooked or missed. Meditation restores them through a simple technique whereby the attention is drawn to a place of inner stillness. At the subtler levels of meditation, the attention rests in stillness, untroubled by the normal activities of the mind.
One experiences a sense of ease, clarity and relaxation which is carried into everyday life, producing a feeling of greater space with less rush, less pressure.
What type of meditation is practised?
Meditation is both universal and very old. In various forms it has been practised for thousands of years. This mantra-based method of meditation originates in a centuries-old tradition that arose in India and was adapted to be given to people in the West at the end of the 1950s. It is suitable for people of any age or background. In the early 1960s contact was made with one of the custodians of the tradition of meditation, the Shankaracharya of northern India. It is from him and his predecessors that the method of meditation comes, together with guidance on its practice. The technique is very simple. It is practised for two short periods a day sitting on a chair in one’s own home or other quiet place.
How is it taught?
Meditation is passed on individually, one to one. The technique is given in a single session during a simple traditional ceremony. The time taken for the practice to become established varies with each individual and much depends on the regularity of the practice. As with learning a musical instrument, deepening and refining the practice is a life-long process. Once given the technique, assistance will always be available, free of charge, to those who sincerely wish to meditate.
Where can I learn meditation?
The method of mantra meditation is given through the School of Meditation, with whom the Practical Philosophy School has a long-standing relationship. In the North West students are introduced to meditation at our rural retreat house, Brinscall Hall in Chorley, Lancashire, under the auspices of the School of Meditation in London. The School of Meditation is a registered charity funded by donations and its purpose is to make meditation readily available to anyone who wants it.
How do I start?
If you are attending a Practical Philosophy group speak to your tutor. If not, get in touch by email at the address below.
The introduction to meditation lasts about one and a half hours. Meditation is freely given but there has always been a practice of making a donation to the School of Meditation. For many years the guideline was one week’s net income, but it is recognized that this amount may not be possible. People are therefore asked to make a generous donation, which does not cause any hardship but which recognises their own value and commitment to the practice. Your donation does not go to any individual, it is used by the School of Meditation to make the way of meditation available for others. No further payment is ever required, and individual life-long guidance and support is provided free of charge.
You will be asked to bring a few traditional gifts, which will have a part to play in the ceremony: some pieces of fruit, a few flowers and a piece of plain white linen or cotton cloth.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin