Learning the art of Meditation – Metta Bhavana anyone?

What is Metta Bhavana?

Until that day I had no idea what that was if I’m honest. This is how beginner I am in learning about the art of meditation.

To quote our study guide:

” Metta – translates (approximately) as ‘unconditional friendship’ or ‘loving kindness’. Bhavana – translates as ‘cultivation’ or ‘development’
We can therefore say that the metta bhavana is the cultivation of loving kindness – OR developing ourselves through unconditional friendship. It is concerned with cultivating emotional positivity and recognising that qualities like warmth, kindness and empathy are part of our natural makeup.”

In practical terms, it is about using kindness and loving feelings towards friends and people in general.

I am not feeling very kind these days so it was difficult for me to get this one but this is the perfect time to try harder!

The practice has 5 stages, in which we cultivate metta:

1. Ourselves

2. A good friend

3. A „neutral‟ person

4. Someone we find difficult

5. All of the above in equal measure, then finally all beings

I don’t think I could explain it in much more details very well as I didn’t manage to get it but feel free to check out Week 4 of our course work for the guidelines.

Practice makes perfect!

How about this? Wha do you think about this?

Learning the art of Meditation – Part 3

Off I go to the buddhist center, got to the vibrant meditation room, got my mats, cushions, blanket and lied down.

Week three was practicing The Mindfulness of Breathing.

The first attempt at meditationg is a total failure. My heart is beating too fast due to the anxiety that is taking over me. I cannot stop the train of thoughts that is reigning in my head. Counting does not work this time and I cannot stay on the path.

I swear I fell asleep a little too. Which is good as I get little sleep these days.

We stop and talk things through. We discuss how we feel. Everyone gets involved in the chats. There is a lovely group of people doing meditation.

We have our usual mid-class tea break and get back to the class where we discuss the “Path and Scenery”.

How to understand how our thoughts evolve, how to become concious of it and get back to the path of meditation. I thought this was the most helpful and meaningful piece of information since the start of the course.

Food for thoughts.

Second attempt at meditating is more succesful. It is amazing how different I feel after this. I do feel more focused, positive and relaxed.

Third week in and I am really enjoying it. The group, the learning and how i feels.

I cannot wait for week four.

Learning the art of meditation – Part 2

Second take on the art of meditation.

This time I arrived early to the class, doubled up mats and cushions, ready to take on the challenge to mind control and posture perfection. I was even hoping I would reach a peaceful state of mind and levitate today.

Sadly it did not happen. What went wrong?

Nothing really, just too much baggage apparently.

We got our energy flowing doing some kind of Tai Chi movements. It was a bit tedious as it felt they lasted for ages.

Once the energy got flowing, we got on our mats and cushions and got down to business.

Last week we learned two techniques for meditation: “Body scan” (a lot more  info out there) and “In The Present Moment“.

I found the latter quite difficult to get into and the same happened this week.

I struggled to just give my mind a rest based on the idea of present moment. My mind was racing. The complete opposite of what is intended. Not a great start.

After a quick catch up and reminder of last week’s objectives, we learn about the paradox of meditation (see week 2).

How can meditation be used as an agent to change? To get from stressed to calm? To get from anxious to relaxed? To get from A to B?

The secret of the paradox is not about getting from A to B but to learn to be more in the present situation and be aware.

After a well deserved tea break we get back to the mediation room and learn about The Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation.

Breathing used as help to control the mind.

It worked for me and helped me a lot as I managed to concentrate the whole time for the first time since starting the course. I might have found a way to empty or at least control the flow of my thoughts. Numbers! Who would have thought that?

This has given me great satisfaction and I felt I achieved something this week.

Looking forward to week 3!


Learning the art of Meditation – Part 1


My newest hobby.

I booked myself last month on a 6 weeks beginner’s course at the lovely Buddhist centre in the Northern Quarter.

The Buddhist center is part of the  Triratna Buddhist community (formerly known as  Friends of the Western Order).

Wednesday night was the first lesson.

While I remained silent when asked if I had any expectations, I did and still do have some.

I was imagining we would sit in the very uncomfortable crossed legged position and told not to move an inch but let our body adapt to staying still.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The room was filled with cushions and we were told we could sit, lie and whatever we wanted as long as we were comfortable. Excellent! Although I found the conversation went on for a bit too long for my liking on how we could sit. The explanations from the “teachers”, as friendly as they were, were not very clear I found as to what our body was to do to our mind and vice versa but we went on anyway.

I was also surprised at the very eclectic mix of people around, a lot of them were there just like me to switch off from this crazy world.

The first part of the class was on posture and a little meditation – I am sure I fell a bit asleep, it had been a long day, then we had a tea break. Lovely.

I got to quizz one of the course leader.

I asked about the name change – when joining the order they are required to adopt a Buddhist name which is assigned to them.

I’ve asked about the Triratna Buddhism and Manchester, what difference

I had millions of questions. Buddhism has always fascinated me.

Tea break over, we headed back to our meditation room.

Second part of the class was understanding the basic principles of meditation (see bottom of the page, week 1)

  • Being aware
  • In the present moment
  • Without judgement

Lovely teacher went on explaining each point and how to apply them to meditating, we then had our second go at meditation. I thought my mind was far less responsive and kept wondering everywhere. Not great.

The course finished after 2.30h. It went in a flash. As I left, I felt relaxed and got a sense of well being. Maybe just still dazed from my little disco nap – who knows.

I enjoyed it even though I wasn’t in full meditation mode. I look forward to the 5 coming weeks!