Meditation experience

I heard about a free guided meditation session at Tushita near Dharamkot so I decided to check it out. I set off at 8.30am to make it in time for 9.30am.

Tushita is a tranquil meditation center situated in the forested hillsides. From the moment you step through the small gate you must maintain silence. While there are people walking about the site feels solitary, which is refreshing in overpopulated India.

I was slightly early so sat outside admiring the view and writing my journal. Phones are not permitted on site, which is also a breath of fresh air.

Just before 9.30 I walked into the meditation room not sure what to expect. I chose a pillow to sit on and waited as the room filled up.

Once the room met its capacity a monk walked in and the session began. We started by assessing our posture and sitting correctly. One must sit with a straight back and head slightly bent towards yourself. You can either cross your legs or kneel. You should place your hands on your lap facing upwards or on your legs.

The monk spoke calmly to us about the mind and how we are in charge of our happiness through our thoughts. We attempted to observe our breath and not control it. We sat for an hour clearing our mind while maintaining some focus. When our thoughts wondered in we were advised to breath in pure white light and exhale distractions in the form of black smoke.

After the session some of us stayed behind for questions and answers. For me the hardest thing was the pins and needles. I am not one for sitting still, when I do I get cramps. In response to this common query, the monk told us that we must asses the pain, allow it to be there and conclude that it is temporary. It is fluid and not concrete so we must let it go, take a step back and focus on our breath. He also said that more pillows may help with the discomfort! If the pain is too severe then we can shift position.

Someone asked about getting frustrated at themselves for not meditating well and thinking about other things. He calmly responded saying that hopes are irrelevant they don’t matter. We must not go into a meditation with any expectations. There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation. One must avoid being judgemental of ourselves. The whole idea is to be kind to ourselves.

He told us about the art of observation when we feel anxiety or strong emotions. We can’t stop how we feel but we can recognise it and take a step back to watch. He spoke a lot about the art of letting go.

In Buddhism a major teaching is in regards to how everything is temporary. Life is temporary, we all will die at some point, putting the thought to one side will not help. We must live as it we might die at any second. We can’t say I will be happy when I get a promotion because when that happens we will want something else. The idea is to be happy in the moment.

To highlight the idea of temporality Buddhists spend months creating spectacular mandalas out of sand. Once finished they will destroy them in a river, symbolising the fluidity and finiteness of everything.

Feeling calm I left the center and wondered to Dharamkot center. I found a magical spot for breakfast and some more writing.

I wondered around some more before returning to Tushita for an educational film on Buddhism. The documentary was fascinating. Building on my understanding from the Tibetan museum I learnt even more about Tibetans. The documentary was about a gentleman who met the Dalai Lama and asked him ten questions.

The interview with the Dalai Lama portrayed him to be relaxed and personable.

I walked back to McLeodganj and wondered in another temple in the town centre. It was a Buddhist place of worship.

Later that day I relaxed in a Bogdo’s rooftop cafe again.

I then sampled some typical Tibetan food – momos.

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