People start to meditate for many reasons. Some seek an antidote to the stress and pressure of life. Others are drawn to it for spiritual, moral or philosophical reasons, looking for an answer to a question they may not be able to put into words, or at least for some understanding that will help them make sense of their lives and what's important, provide some clarity about how to live a better life, or deal with the circumstances of life in a better way.
This is what the Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey says about meditation:
"Meditation is the foundation of our religious practice; through it we discover the truth directly for ourselves. It is to sit still with an open, alert, and bright mind, neither suppressing nor indulging in the thoughts that arise. In meditation, one learns how to accept oneself and the world as it is. Profound transformation becomes possible once we know things as they are."
Learning to Meditate
To benefit from meditating with us you don't need to know anything about Buddhism. We hope to make the Buddha's teaching available to all but never try to impose it. Buddhism is noted for its respect for other faiths. It does not claim an exclusive truth, or require you to accept a particular set of beliefs. Zen simply asks that you are willing to sit honestly in stillness, Zazen, and follow where that leads you.
To practice Zazen meditation posture is important, but it is not necessary to sit cross legged on a cushion. Most people use either a chair or a special kneeling bench. The important thing is that the upper part of the body is well balanced and that you are comfortable enough to sit still.
Before you come for the first time, try to email us so we can arrange for you to be given meditation instruction from someone who has been meditating for several years and can help others learn the basics. This introduction usually lasts for about half an hour and covers posture and how to cultivate the mind of meditation. You will then join the rest of the group for the remaining meditation time and discussion.
If you would like to come along and join us then please follow the links in the menu above to find contact details for the Newcastle or Teesside groups. If you do not live within easy travelling distance of any of our groups there may be another OBC meditation group or Priory near you. Look in Links for a full list of OBC groups.
Meditating with a Group
Regular meditation practice is an essential foundation, however it can seem that the demands and distractions of daily life can strongly conflict with the need to find time for daily meditation. For people meditating on their own at home this can be discouraging. It can become difficult to appreciate the importance of finding time for meditation and to maintain the commitment required.
This is why we meet weekly to practice Serene Reflection (Zazen). It can help greatly to meditate regularly with a group. Meditating with others can be much easier than meditating alone, and the chance to talk with others brings a wider perspective on what your own meditation practice means for you. In this way regular contact with a group can really help you to keep going.