Urban Dandy Meditation #1 was on 15th February 2018.
A new venture, aimed at people from our community and further afield to engage in the practice of transcendental meditation and to stimulate discussion and creativity.
A theme of ‘Who are we, really?’ guided us through the hour – the class were told:
Urban Dandy’s writers look at context, we explain things, point out pertinent detail, tell the truth and discern. But, Urban Dandy is for the whole human, which means we’re interested in looking beyond context. If we let go of this role of journalist, poet, or whatever label we could pin to ourselves, what remains?
Discomfort might be one thing…
The class was led into the first few minutes of meditation practice,
The brief instruction: Sit, feet flat on the floor, an upright spine, ‘when the body is still, the mind is more likely to follow’, focus ahead – still eyes,
“When we sit down to meditate it is as if an old friend sits down with us, a life-long friend, a friend who accompanies us everywhere and who is so close to us as to be practically indistinguishable from the ‘me’ or the ‘I’ that we habitually call ourselves. That friend is the moving mind, which in Sanskrit goes by the name of manas”.
“Manas is our friend and can help us in all sorts of ways but it has one abiding fault: it never knows when to stop talking and so makes it difficult for us to hear anything else. We spend most of our waking hours listening to the chatter of manas ceaselessly commenting and judging – judging not only our own actions but the actions of others as well”.[i]
Then a discussion: How was the practice? ‘It went quickly’ – ‘it went slowly’. Who are we? We cannot be manas – our thoughts.
The second practice
Suggestion: Do not worry about the wandering mind, that is what the mind does, there is no failure. The mantra is the hand rail when you want to come back.
What is a mantra? A sound, repeated silently, inwardly, preferably not in one’s mother tongue. What is meditation? Different participants had different ways, but the class was in transcendental meditation, in which the practitioner transcends their physical, mental and intellectual selves and touches pure being. Here, the meditator begins to open up to the question ‘Who am I really?’
“Every single time we return to the practice, we are overcoming ancient innate tendencies of the mind to flow outward. Every time we come back, we are reminding ourselves where to look, and it gets deeper each time. This is why it’s said that what matters isn’t how many times we go away, but how many times we come back…”[ii]
(To become who we truly are we first have to come out of being what we are not).
Naturally, because of life and its demands and preoccupations, context came in to the conversation – the heaviness of life, this was a gathering of people with heavyweight life experiences and no little wisdom, but the question was worth coming back to, to taste that bliss, to lighten the burden: Who are we, really?
Glimpsing some light and following it, discovering that I am indeed part of that light and it is part of me… Good night everyone, thanks for coming, and we leave.
But the truth remains and will be touched again, always available.
Urban Dandy Meditation #2 will take place on Maundy Thursday, 29th March, same venue same time – The Library, Downstairs, Essex Unitarian Church, Notting Hill Gate, 7:30-8:30pm
By Tom Charles
For Brian – ‘it is always there’
[i] From the booklet ‘Beginning to Meditate’, The School of Meditation
[ii] Krishna Das, ‘Chants of a Lifetime’, Hay House, 2010, p.54