We meet in-person once every week on Saturdays at 10.30am:
Note that this is the side door, not the front entrance in St Martins Lane — go down the alley next to Gym Box and press the buzzer for the Meeting Room.
Please allow time to arrive a few minutes early as we aim to start promptly. We end by 12.30.
If new to the practice come and enjoy the calm mindful atmosphere created by the group and just follow along.
Mats and meditation cushions are provided or you can sit on a chair.
We also meet online on Saturdays plus online only on Thursdays. See Online Sangha.
The first half of the 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.
- Please remain seated and in silence throughout, except where it's obvious to do otherwise.
- There's a fair amount of bowing in Zen! This just means Thank You. It is fine if you would rather not join in with this.
- 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.
- If you're delayed en route, we check at the door again for latecomers around 11 - 11.10am, to avoid disrupting the initial part of the morning.
At the end there is plenty of time to chat – or for any questions you may have. We usually have lunch together too and it would be great if you wished to join us.
Our meetings are free to attend, however a donation of £10 towards room hire would be appreciated if you can afford this. Please pay this online via our donations page.
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. Stillness is the key to sitting meditation as this allows the mind to attain a calm clear state.
While aiming for stillness however, please move if experiencing 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.
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.