Dear friends, we are beginning to resume meeting in person. All are welcome to join us on Saturdays at 10.15am for a Morning of Mindfulness.
We are at: 8 Hop Gardens, London WC2N 4EH
This is the side entrance to The Friends Meeting House (The Quakers) in St Martins Lane, just off Trafalgar Square.
We shall continue to meet virtually too, on Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings. — please see our online sangha page for information
Mats and cushions are provided or you can sit on a chair.
If new to the practice come and enjoy the calm mindful atmosphere created by the group and just follow along.
The first half of the practice session consists of guided, walking and silent meditations of 15-25 minutes each. In the second half there will be a reading and time for mindful sharing. For these last two practices, the facilitators will introduce them and give explanation.
- Please remain seated and in silence throughout, except where it's obvious to do otherwise.
- There's a fair amount of bowing. Feel free to join in—or not! Either is fine.
- If needing a toilet break, there's a walking meditation about 40mins after we start and this is the best time.
- Please leave coats and shoes outside, but take valuables in with you, remembering to switch off your phone.
We ask that you arrive in plenty of time. We are unable to allow entry once we have started, as this disrupts the practice. So no admission after 10.30am Saturdays and 7pm Thursdays.
We finish at 1pm Saturday and 9pm Thursday. On Saturdays you are most welcome to join us for a cup of tea and a chat afterwards - or for any questions you may have.
There is a suggested donation of £7, if you can afford this. This covers room hire with any surplus going to support other sangha activities.
For those aged under 35 there is the option to practice with our sister sangha for young people, Wake Up London
How to sit
Sit with the back naturally erect and all muscles relaxed. If you find sitting or kneeling on a cushion uncomfortable, it is fine to sit on a chair.
If on a cushion, ensure you have both knees on the floor (or on a cushion if you find this difficult), as most of us need support from three points of contact, like a tripod, to remain comfortable and stable during meditation.
Add or remove cushions to find a comfortable height. Too low causes slouching forward, too high arching back. If in doubt slightly too high is preferable.
We aim for a posture where we can happily remain still for twenty to thirty minutes. This enables the mind to attain a calm focused state.
However always move if any pain to avoid harming the body. It often takes experimentation to find what posture works best for each of us.
Guided meditation exercises have been created to help us develop our understanding and practice. Each exercise uses the vehicle of conscious breathing to carry images which evoke various responses within us.
As we listen to the sound of the facilitator's voice we follow our breathing. We do not need to think about or analyse the words of the meditation, rather we let them fall into our consciousness, like a pebble falling into a deep, still pool.
When we practice walking meditation we coordinate our steps with our breath. We are aware especially of the contact of our feet with the ground, and the wondrous nature of the present moment.
Upon hearing the bell to start we take an in-breath and make the first step with the left foot. On the out-breath we take another step with the right foot. Then we begin the cycle again.
As soon as we sit down we begin mindful breathing by paying attention to our breath. We gently follow each in-breath and each out-breath with our awareness. We do not aim to control our breathing but rather allow it to deepen as we relax with the practice.
When distracted by thoughts, feelings or physical sensations, we let these go without dwelling on them, returning to our breathing.
Reading or talk
We listen to a short reading together. This will typically be a chapter from a book, or sometimes a pre-recorded talk. When reading from a book, we pass it from person to person with those wishing to do so reading a paragraph each before passing it on.
We practise deep listening, with the full attention, without making judgements. We do not reply to each other. By sharing from the heart out, we contribute to the collective insight and understanding of the sangha.
We base our sharing on our own experience of the practice rather than abstract ideas and theoretical topics. We may realise that many of us share similar difficulties and aspirations.
Anything shared is confidential. Even if we wish to discuss someone's sharing with them later, we would first check with them that they wish to revisit it.
It is a good practice to own what one is about to say, to hold one's own suffering, and to look deeply to see if it's the right moment to share specific things because of the impact one's words may have on others.
Our shared lunches are not currently possible. We hope to resume when we can safely.