I think I've taken the first steps in the right direction. I found out yesterday morning that every Saturday, just off St Martins Lane in central London, there is a drop-in meditation session between 1 and 2pm, costing £5, run by the London Buddhist centre. I had never done meditation before, so was slightly apprehensive. I got there at quarter to one. It was raining hard. I rang doorbell number four and was let inside.
I followed people upstairs to where the meditation was to take place. I was feeling tense, tired, emotional and stressed. the room was small, about the size of a living room, a window was open, I could hear the pat, pat, pat sound of the rain hitting the neighbouring roof tops and the clock ticking, other than that the room was quiet. In one corner sat a small golden Buddha and a single scented glowing night light candle. In contrast to the cold outside, the atmosphere of room was warm, relaxed and inviting.
The teacher showed us the mindfulness of breathing technique. It's said that there are thoughts from the past and thoughts about the future. This technique helps to push those thoughts aside and just focus on the present.
The technique follows four stages:
- counting each breath at the end of exhalation
- counting each breath at the beginning of inhalation
- focusing on the breath without counting
- focusing only on the spot where the breath enters and leaves the nostrils (i.e., the nostril and upper lip area).
I sat on three cushions as comfortably as possible and followed the instruction from the teacher. At one point she asked how everyone was, I mentioned that I could hear my breathing and heart beat interacting with each other. It was such a peaceful experience, it felt so gentle.
The hour was over quickly, afterwards I felt lighter, much more in tune with my surroundings. It had stopped raining outside, I appeared to notice much more of what was happening around me. I could see people smiling and interacting with each other, I heard the tourists speak as I walked past. I really felt awake. It was a lovely experience, one that I'll do again soon.