Following on from Part 1 – I continue my course in Buddhism at the Manchester Buddhist Centre. Whilst getting to grips with meditation – the realisation that the ability to \”Go Forth\” and help others comes to light – as the links with aspects of Buddhism in business continue to become clear.
Life is one big distraction
Week 2 of my Buddhism foundation course was approaching. I was looking forward to it particularly for the group discussion as this was becoming equally as valuable as learning to meditate. I had been practising meditation throughout the week but must admit, I found it hard and my enthusiasm waned towards the end.
This week was bonfire night (5th November) and there were noticeably less people at the class. I sat next to a friendly face from last week and started my usual routine of making a joke about my inability to meditate.
Like last week, the class started with a group discussion. Straight away we were into the same conversation about death, old age and sickness. As I pondered on my own imminent demise and felt the tension level rise, I realized – no wonder I was struggling to relax as I was overloaded with cortisol.
The first term which caught my attention in the discussion was, we are simply “an agency of the mind”. The teachers started to discuss the feeling of never being satisfied – which I am sure will come to dominate more as the course evolves. Again, we learned more about the Buddha’s story as he left his Father’ land of luxury to “Go Forth” to help the suffering.
As we re-organised into small groups to discuss when have been in situations where we have ‘Gone Forth’, I found myself sharing parts of my story of leaving the finance industry in 2014. I did this in order to work with vulnerable young people and change lives via the use of a radio station -www.unityradio.fm
It’s the first time I had drawn any such parallels from a philanthropic perspective.
Focus On Meditation
This week’s meditation was pre-empted by advice on posture and also a discussion on accepting thoughts as they come into the mind. The meditation was to focus on counting on the outbreath and then counting on the inbreath. Again, I struggled to stay focused until the end but having the extra count certainly helped this time and I managed to only peak open my eyes on one occasion before the end.
Afterwards, there was a further discussion about being distracted by our thoughts during the meditative process and how the skill is to learn to not respond to your thoughts. I immediately latched onto this, thinking about how we quickly and (often) mistakenly react in our normal daily lives “off the cuff” to our distracting thoughts.
I thought about how quickly I sometimes respond to emails or react in meetings. I wondered how much meditation I needed to practise so that thoughts would simple pass through without the need for a response.
The Middle Way
Another meaningful conversation focused on the Buddha’s adoption of the “middle way” and how we should simply learn to relax into what is happening and let events unfold as they need to. My understanding was that, “the middle way” was between those who avoid situations and those who force situations, attachment and aversion – both can have consequences especially in personal lives.
This was the most profound part of the evening, whilst proactivity, persistence and determination in a working environment can often produce results – it doesn’t always have the same effect on relationships. Letting events happen naturally requires more trust but in the long run the relationships built can be more rewarding.
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