Sunday Morning Group Meditation Aldershot
Buddhist Community Centre
(Breathing in Breathing out)
– As taught by Late Mr SN Goenkaji
By Ashish Gurung
Every Sunday morning with a few rare cancellations, for last 78 weeks, the doors of Buddhist Community Centre at Aldershot has been opening for an early morning meditation. The doors are usually opened at about 0615 hrs by the centre manager, Mr Ram Gurung. Gratitude to him for his time and effort to open the centre so early. His morning humdrum of opening the Centre encompasses daily routine of water offering at the altar, burning an incense and lighting a candle, and especially for Sunday mornings he shuts the blinds and the radiators are switched on, from there on, he settles down with his daily ritual of counting mala with recitation of mantras.
In the kitchen one of the Volunteer Aama (The Kitchen Manager) who arrives at the same time as the centre manager, goes through her daily chores as usual and especially for Sunday mornings she makes sure the water boiler is refilled and switched on and the brew kit is rearranged and restocked. We are grateful for her benevolent service.
Shortly after, at around 0645 hrs, Meditation servers (Old students of The Vipassana course as taught by late Mr SN Goenka) arrives at the centre and starts arranging the cushions neatly in a rows and columns. Consequently, sound system is tested, and the floor sign stands saying “switch off your mobile, silent please” is stationed at the entrance and the main hall. All these tasks are completed with awareness of silence, making it more of a library like ambiance, where the whispering is used as the mode of communication between the servers.
Gradually, one by one or in groups, people starts arriving and takes up their seats. Attendance can vary from week to week, range of people attending is 6 to 40 people per session. When the clock strikes 0700 hours, the hustles and bustles die down into a tranquil silence. Once the meditators are settled on their cushions and eyes closed an audio is played which is connected to the centre’s sound system.
Audio that is played, is the instructions on Anapana meditation given by Late Mr Goenka ji. It lasts about 10 minutes then the meditators carry on practicing without instructions and at intervals the instructions are replayed with aim of reminding the meditators to stay focused and concentrated. Now and again if there is first time joiner then the server will play the instructions on the technique and brief description of ‘what is vipassana’ is also incorporated during the meditation period. If the new joiner has informed the servers before attending the session, then a separate audio system with earphones can be arranged.
During the meditation hour, meditators are practicing sitting still without fidgeting in one fixed position. Even when movement is done there is an utmost care not to disturb the peace and silence of other meditators. Pin drop silence is established in no time. Apart some sporadic coughs and people joining late and slight buzzing sound of the water boiler in the kitchen which is normally oblivious of it exitance, experience of stillness and tranquillity is maintained throughout the meditation period. Regular meditators have already developed the tolerance and patience in them that despite the outside sounds and disturbances they are undisturbed. The positive vibration at the hall is indescribable. Pure bliss.
After exactly one hour (0800 hrs) a gong is heard three times on the speakers. Indicating the end of the meditation. That triggers a flurry of movements at the hall. The lights are switched on. The blinds are opened. Sounds of meditators gasping for air, huge sigh of reliefs and standing up and stretching are heard.
Concurrently after the lights are on, the host server gathers all the meditators in a circular sitting and opens the floor for discussion and experience sharing. Discussion topics are usually on meditation technique and its application on day to day life. Experience sharing can range from health, meditation, insights, but mostly experience of 10-day vipassana course is shared. Towards the end there is a dedicated time for questions and answers. The session lasts around 30 minutes.
Sunday morning meditation is capped off by tea and biscuit, where meditators socialise with each other. Environment at the kitchen is very lively and chatty like a big family. New members are welcomed, regular meditators catch up with their week-long separation. Sound of joy and happiness resonates. This happy crowd is slowly dispersed in their own time with the phrase of “see you next Sunday”.
Aldershot Group Meditation has evolved to be a community, that has a platform to support each other to be happy, positive and healthy. Innocently, the group is aspiring each other to overcome misery and work towards happiness through the art of meditation. There are no words that can describe the distinctiveness and goodness of this meditation group. To fully grasp the vibe and the rhythm of Sunday morning meditation here at the Aldershot Buddhist Community Centre, you must come and experience and see it for yourself.
Your most welcome to join the session.
What is being taught in Aldershot Sunday Morning Meditation?
Technique introduced at Aldershot Sunday Morning Meditation is called Anapana in Pali language and it is simply translated as Breathing in and Breathing out. Fundamental of this meditation technique is simply being aware of your breath in its natural state while being still and sat in cross legged position. It is recommended to sit crossed leg and try to hold the position for 1 hour. However, it is not mandatory, you are free to hold the position however you feel easy. There are no chants or an object for visualisation.
Do you have to be Buddhist to attend the meditation session?
No, you don’t have to be Buddhist. It is compatible with all religions.
Please read the link at the bottom of the page for more information.
How much does it cost a session?
Courtesy of BCCUK that hall is permitted to use without any charge. Servers are all volunteers.
Do I have to book it in advance?
Just turn up. No booking is required. However, if you could notify the servers they could assist and serve you better.
Link below is highly recommended for new joiners
Aldershot Meditation Group is not a Vipassana Centre where vipassana is taught. Anapana is an introductory to vipassana.
–With Metta Aldershot Dhamma Servers