Feature: Meditation for Modern Life
The art of doing nothing
Sit. Breathe. Do nothing. Think of nothing. Easy? Try it.
Across the North Shore, people of various ages, professions, ethnicities and personalities are exploring what it is, to be still.
In mid-April, around 70 individuals of many different ages, professions, personalities and beliefs put their weekend jobs aside, to congregate for a day-long workshop in Takapuna to do just that, or rather, to be just that.
It is well-known that distracting thoughts cause problems. Driving whilst taking on the phone is now illegal. Cooking left neglected is a major cause of house fires. But what are the less obvious downfalls of having a cluttered mind? Relationships can suffer, opportunities can be missed and magic moments can be lost.
Takapuna War Memorial Hall was the venue for one such group meditation day last month. ‘Meditation for Modern Life’ consisted of four meditation sessions interspersed with teachings from a meditation expert, charismatic National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Buddhist Tradition, Gen Kelsang Rabten. Originally from the UK, the Buddhist monk had travelled from his current base in Hong Kong to deliver the workshop.
“Don’t just do something – sit there!” He very simply summed up the essence of the day.
A TV producer, an investment manager, a retired grandmother-of-five, a radio show host and a working holiday student were amongst those who had decided that they could use some time out. Whilst being encouraged to ignore any naturally-occurring bodily noises, this diverse bunch were led through a process of clearing thoughts from their minds, before moving onto different focusses in a bid to overcome mental obstacles.
Buddhist nun Kelsang Kyobpa, who attended the day workshop, also runs Wednesday evening classes at The Yoga Tree in Takapuna. She says, “Meditation is a way of calming the mind, making us more peaceful, balanced and focused in our daily lives.”
And when done collectively, the positive effects can be enhanced by a sense of community and a connection with others who have shared the same room at least, if not the same experience.
Kyobpa added: “Meditating in a group is particularly powerful - it is not only a way to create peaceful, positive minds for ourselves, but also a way to share that with others, our family and friends, our community, and our world.
“Ultimately, meditation enables us to awaken our spiritual potential and to find lasting joy and contentment.”
Forthcoming full-day workshops in Takapuna include ‘Overcoming Anxiety’, on Saturday 9th June, at the Mary Thomas Centre on Gibbons Road. There is more info at www.meditateinauckland.org
If you like the thought of giving yourself more headspace and de-cluttering your brain this season – meditation could do it for you. Try turning a bit of old-fashioned Kiwi can-do into a bit of Kiwi can-be.