What we do
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. It helps us change the way we relate to ourselves and the world around us.
Buddhist meditation techniques offer a way of encouraging and developing positive states of mind, such as calmness, clarity, emotional positivity and a deeper seeing into the true nature of things.
One of the main things we learn when we meditate is that we have a choice about how we think and feel. Even though much is out of our control in life, we can always take responsibility for our own states of mind and choose to change them for the better. Meditation empowers us to make this choice.
Over thousands of years Buddhist meditation techniques have developed to help people work with their minds, and the foundation of them all is the cultivation of a calm and positive state of mind.
The meditation techniques we teach cultivate this calm and positive state of mind. They consist of two simple but effective practices drawn from the Buddhist tradition and originally taught by the Buddha himself. The pair complement each other and can be learned by anyone, and you don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from them!
Central to meditation is the practice of mindfulness. When we are mindful, we are aware; we notice what is going on around us and inside us.
Mindfulness is something we can practice when we’re on the bus, when we’re waiting in the queue at the shop, while we’re eating. It’s not religious – it’s simply about paying attention to what’s there with an attitude of interest and exploration.
Through being mindful, we learn that small things can have a big effect. Becoming aware of our bodies, our emotional life, our communication with others, helps us to live a life that flows into a rich tapestry of awareness, imbued with beauty and appreciation.
From a Buddhist perspective, mindfulness includes even an awareness of ‘how things really are’ – an awareness of the true nature of things. By being mindful, the Buddha says, we become more wise and free. It’s because of this that he said ‘mindfulness is the direct path to freedom’.
The Mindfullness of Breathing
Mindfulness is simply about being aware of our experience. To help us to cultivate this, we do the ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’ meditation practice.
As its name implies, the practice uses the breath as the object of concentration. By focusing on the breath, we become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another.
The simple discipline of concentration brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains.
In particular, the Mindfulness of Breathing is a good antidote to restlessness and anxiety, and a good way to relax. Focusing on the breath has a beneficial effect on both our body and our mind.
The practice isn’t just about helping us relax, however – it also helps us to unlock and integrate our deeper emotional energies.
Central also to Buddhist meditation practice is the cultivation of ‘metta’, ‘friendliness’ ‘warmth’ or ‘loving-kindness’ (‘bhavana’ means ‘development’). It involves having an openness and emotional positivity for ourselves and other people.
Metta is an emotion – a desire in our heart for the well-being of people. To cultivate loving-kindness is to develop positivity and warmth, to leave behind harmful emotions, and to connect with other people at a deeper level.
Metta is powerfully transformative, and can change how we see and experience the world. To cultivate metta is to grow out of self-centredness and emotional negativity, and into being able to have harmonious and satisfying relationships with other people, as well as with ourselves.
Learning to Meditate with the North Wicklow Buddhist Group
Meditation is something that’s best learned from others and with others. When you come to the North Wicklow Buddhist Group, you are part of an active community of like-minded people, all exploring what meditation can offer, in an atmosphere of friendliness and warmth.
Our courses mainly take place at the Kilcoole Community Centre.
Our Courses and Classes
The best way to learn meditation with us is to do one of our five-week courses. The aim of the course is to help you set up and maintain a meditation practice of your own at home.
Over the five weeks, you’ll learn:
- Meditation & Mindfulness
- What is Meditation?
- Introduction to Mindfulness
- Meditation Posture
- The Mindfulness of Breathing
- Exploring Aspects of Mindfulness
- The Development of Loving-Kindness
- Working with the Mind: Distraction and Absorption
- Taking Meditation into the World
- Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness off the Cushion
- Continuing your Practice after the Course
We’ll be asking you to set up your own practice at home from week one, and each week you’ll be able to come back to the course and discuss how things are going, checking in about your practice with our experienced teachers and others on the course with you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Meditation
What do I need to bring to the meditation class?
We supply all the equipment you will need. This mainly consists of meditation cushions and chairs. It is better to wear comfortable and non-restrictive clothing, for personal comfort. Apart from this, just give yourself plenty of time to arrive and relax, so that you can be in as rested a state of mind as possible for the class.
Will the meditation course help me to relax?
Meditation is a tool for positive change. It will help you to move from stressed, uncomfortable states of mind to more open, appreciative and calm states of mind.
It will also help you to deal with situations that would normally lead to stress in a more creative and resourceful way.
I’m a complete beginner. Is it difficult to learn to meditate?
The Introductory Course is suitable for complete beginners who have never meditated before. Some people find it difficult, some find it easy, but all people who do it remark on its usefulness. The course aims to help you have your own regular practice at home, with enough skills to maintain your practice.
Do I have to be interested in Buddhism to do the course?
You do not have to be interested in Buddhism to do the course. Most people who attend are simply looking for a way to relax, de-stress, and reinvigorate their lives. Others learn to meditate as a means of personal development and growth.
The main aim of meditation is to bring about positive change in people’s lives, and this is true regardless of personal beliefs.
For those who are interested in Buddhism, the course is a good introduction to the Buddhist approach in working with the mind. Once the Introductory meditation course is completed other courses and retreats on Buddhism are available.
Does the course involve chanting or mantras?
There are several different types of meditation available today in the West, many involving chanting or the use of mantras. However, we don’t use mantra or chanting in our classes.
For instance, in the ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’, the object of meditation is the breath. This meditation involves sitting quietly observing the flow of the breath in and out of the body. The ‘Metta Bhavana’ involves quietly cultivating feelings of warmth and friendless towards ourselves and others.
Do I need to be able to sit cross-legged or in full-lotus posture to meditate?
On the first night of the introductory meditation course we show all participants how to sit comfortably in a posture that suits their individual bodies. This may be cross-legged, but can also include sitting in a chair or on cushions. The main thing is that you are able to sit comfortably, upright and alert.