Meditation course

Analytical meditation group practice: Open to everyone. Every Saturday morning guided meditation on different philosophical Buddhist subjects. Email me to join the group for free.

After working for years with patients with long term chronic conditions, I realised that Chinese Medicine was closely associated with my meditation practice. I started giving mindfulness meditation classes in Gateway clinic to patients with long term chronic pain in conjunction with their acupuncture treatments with amazing results. I designed a simple but thorough course to introduce meditation over 6 weeks. It is done in group setting, one to one or online: 6 weekly classes to help you understand how the mind works, how to gradually transform your life for greater happiness, and how to reduce stress and improve relationships.

Online group course of 6 classes introduction to meditation is £120 (but no one will be refused to join so please contact me if any financial issues).

Online 1 to 1 meditation class designed specifically for your own need. £60 per class of 40 minutes

If you are interested in the Meditation Course, please email me at domjoire@hotmail.com

week 1

Mindfulness meditation introduction: understanding how our mind works, the “monkey mind” and the “auto-pilot system”; how to train our focus and concentration with body scan meditation and breathing meditation.

week 2

Clear Mind meditation: How to reach the quiet experience of simply “Being”. With our mind staying very focused we can meditate free of concepts of our past or future, and reach our pure clear mind anytime.

week 3

Accepting and transforming negative emotions with loving kindness meditation.

week 4

Visualisation meditation on purification and letting go of stress and ego.

week 5

How to transform our mind and develop new neuro-pathways with analytical meditation.

week 6

Summary of the “mind adventure” and how to meditate on physical or emotional pain.

For beginners it will help to follow the course on a weekly basis for a better understanding of Mindfulness practice. 

Introduction to meditation:

Mindfulness meditation should be approached as an new adventure in understanding ourselves, how our mind actually works, how our feelings and emotions affects us and how much control over our thoughts we really have. Like going to the gym or learning a new language, regular practice leads to best results. Our brain can master almost everything with repetition and habituation.

The benefits are vast and have been validated by many studies; as little as 10 minutes of practice a day can bring some benefits. By increasing our positive state of mind and observing our mind with curiosity, acceptance and kindness; we can free ourselves of problems like dissatisfaction, anger, anxiety and more.

Like the Buddha described 2.500 years ago, mindfulness practice brings us better resilience, increased tolerance, more harmonious relationships and ultimately happiness.

Understanding how our mind works:

Mindfulness (or full consciousness) is a state of mind developed by practice, to become fully aware of our present experience without judgement but  with curiosity, acceptance and kindness.  It helps produce in us a greater sense of awareness and connection to the people and the world around us. According to the Dalai Lama, the main obstacle to happiness is that we fail to study the nature of the mind. He describes wisdom, simply, as an understanding of how the mind works. By becoming more familiar with our mind, we can remove the obstacles to happiness and live a joyful life. However, it is impossible to know the mind without observing it. This practice is known as mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is “to cultivate the quality and power of mind that is aware of what is happening, without judgement and without interference” Joseph Goldstein (Stress Less – Live Well. Cultivate Calm and Resilience).  Mindfulness is “the awareness that comes from paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally” Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction).

So how does your mind works?

The autopilot: Most of us spend the majority of our time thinking of the past or the future and rarely fully in the present moment. Try and observe when you walk or drive to work, or even when someone is talking to you, your thoughts are usually somewhere else and this means that we rarely enjoy the present moment. Also notice how often we are trying to rush over things to get somewhere else and not enjoying at all the present moment, always looking forward to something else in the future, and completely missing out our present life.

Neuroscience: self-centredness: Our brain is wired to grasp pleasure and reject pain, we are programmed to search for good times but don’t like change or loss. We are also hard-wired to compare ourselves to others and enhance our self-esteem or ego.

Both autopilot and self-centredness are programmed in our mind by our environment (education, culture) through life experiences and repetition (habituation).

These create good and bad habits that any event or feeling arising can trigger automatically and unconsciously. This was designed through evolution to be very helpful in most cases but it can also blind us to the reality around us and keep us in a cycle of repeating the same mistakes again and again.

The first benefit of mindfulness practice is becoming aware and conscious of our own habits and autopilot, so we have a space to decide how to react to an event instead of automatically responding with inappropriate old habits.

Neuroplasticity: new science has proven that we can change our brain connections at any time in our life, by letting go of negative thoughts and nourishing positive emotions we can change our automatic pilot. Each time an action is repeated, the connection is made so we can transform ourselves. 

By cultivating regularly emotions like empathy, gratitude, loving kindness, compassion, we can transform our mind positively to:

1

Accept things as they currently are instead of wanting to change them.

2

Understand that people behaviour is not about us but reflects their difficulties, and to develop empathy towards negative people.

3

Get along better with others, see people more clearly (by actually listening to them) and not condemn or judge them.

4

Allow us a space to choose our response to events instead of over-reacting with our habitual emotional response.

In fact, psychology and behaviour science have shown that practising mindfulness regularly for as little as 8 weeks increases emotional intelligence. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people. Mindfulness can help to make the unconscious conscious, and create the space for reasoned and skilful responses, even in the face of highly charged feelings.

Stress, anxiety, fear and anger lose their grip more easily and quickly, giving you greater freedom of choice to respond intentionally rather than to react reflexively. Mindfulness promotes emotional regulation and mitigates impulsivity by increasing the gap between stimulus (what happens to us) and response (what we do with what happens to us). 

Meditation and Chinese Medicine

Historically, Buddhist meditation techniques are among the practices that integrated into Chinese medicine. Meditation is seen as preventive but also as curative medicine and it naturally fitted into medical practices. Quieting the mind and breath control is considered a therapeutic practice to obtain spiritual uplifting, health and longevity. Moreover, Buddhist approach to health takes the position that mental well-being is a precondition for physical health, sometimes even to the extreme of claiming that illness is a mental construct. In any case, recognising that the mind (thoughts and emotions) plays a major role in influencing, maintaining or regaining physical health is one of the key principals in TCM also. Another interesting similarity between Buddhism and TCM is the way health and disease are seen: in Buddhism it’s said that peace of mind and enlightenment cannot be “acquired.”

Peace and Self-Realisation are always there already, there are only obstacles that need to be removed to see it. The same goes for health, which cannot be “obtained.” Health cannot be experienced, only disease and illness. Thus, by removing barriers and blockages (which are in fact the illness) Qi Life Energy flows unobstructed, disease disappears and health is restored. Additionally, the Buddhist “Middle Way” blended in seamlessly with the ancient concept of Yin-Yang balance in Chinese philosophy. The Buddha advocated the middle way of moderation, finding balance between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. Maintaining balance is considered crucial to attaining physical and mental health, liberation and finally enlightenment. Buddhism and TCM also converge when it comes to moderation of diet and lifestyle, which is thought to significantly contribute to one’s physical and mental health. 

Meditation Reading list and links
BOOKS

Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Wherever you go, here you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life.
By the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction(MBSR) movement.

Thich Nhat Hanh.
The miracle of mindfulness.
Classic from one of the greatest buddhist monk.

Matthieu Ricard.
The Art of Meditation.
Most comprehensive book from another incredible teacher. One of my favorites.

Kathleen McDonald.
How to meditate.
The Buddhist bible for meditation.

Robert Wright.
Why Buddhism is True, the science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment.
Modern science based validation of the buddhist philosophy and psychology

Deepak Chopra.
The way of the wizard.
Delightful best sellers for all.

Miles Neale.
Gradual Awakening.
For the more advanced reader, Very deep and profound explanations of the Tibetan Buddhism philosophy, psychology and principles.

Robert Thurman.                                                                The Jewel Tree of Tibet. Again much more advanced Buddhist philosophy. This book is the result of a lifetime of profound studies by one of the greatest teacher. A masterpiece !

Lama Thubten Yeshe.
The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism.
Written by a truly enlightened charismatic Lama.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
How to see yourself as you really are.
So many generous books from one of the highest compassionate minds in our humanity, they are all just so beautiful.

A few linksabout meditation

Foundation for the Preservationof the Mahayana Tradition
This is full of incredible free lectures and teachings for a deeper understanding of the richness of Tibetan buddhist philosophy and its application in our western culture.

Youtube: Ram Dass lecture , “we are here now”  Very entertaining but profound talk by an incredible teacher.

Youtube: Eckhart Tolle: sitting together in presence:   Articulate and simple meditation by the famous Eckhart. Always worth watching him 😉

Youtube: Dr Joe Dispenza: Learnhow to control your Mind  With his very modern application of the mind training….Also author of the great bestseller: “You are the Placebo”. Great read.

And so many more treasures to discover, but you can still check any books or youtube videos of the authors of the books mentioned above, full of treasures from very generous teachers.