Sunday, July 06, 2008

Morgan PR learns some meditation to quieten the mind at The Ammerdown Centre

Personal development is absolutely key to success in business and one of my favourite quotes from Jim Rohn is: "Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job", and it was these wise words which led me to the Ammerdown Centre this weekend to learn about 'Meditation - to quieten the mind'.

I first encountered meditation in Thailand almost 20 years ago and dabbled some more at the Perth Meditation Centre in Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia in 2002 and Morgan PR has even written about local meditation in a variety of articles.

However, there is a big difference between a class or writing an article and immersing yourself for a long weekend with the guidance of a talented teacher such as John Preston, who was taking the weekend's course.

John worked for many years as a senior social services manager, counsellor and lecturer in adult education. Then he spent five years training as a monk at a Buddhist meditation monastery and returning to lay-life he now traches meditation as an entirely secular practice promoting personal growth.

Over the weekend our small class learned different techniques which began with basic calming through to techniques to help you concentrate and cut out the chatter that charges in to interrupt novices such as myself.

We also looked at Mindfulness, which is all about the development of awareness. You can try this at home - just try and focus on something as simple as brushing your teeth, totally - or mindfully. Think of nothing else, only what you are doing, how it feels. I can manage about six seconds before my mind interrupts and exclaims: "I'm being mindful" and of course I am no longer focused.

Part of the course involved learning about Vipassana, which is more awareness mediation rather than the concentration approach previously mentioned. In practical terms this was about accepting the myriad of thoughts your mind throws up and letting them pass by without indulging in more detailed thought. That is simplistic, but it was powerful stuff.

We watched a video showing how Vipassanna was used with one of the largest prisons in India. It was quite remarkable to see the difference it had on inmates, many of whom were still on remand awaiting charges after several years. This involved a 10 day silent retreat within the prison and involved some heavyweight meditation with apparently remarkable results. Apparently it has been tried in the UK too but Google isn't giving that one up yet.

Also worthy of a mention in dispatches was fellow student Jo, who runs Yogology, the superbly named website for her Yoga and Kinesiology classes she runs near Bath. She is also a Reiki practitioner.

It was an excellent and rewarding weekend. Ammerdown is a really peaceful location and well suited to the course I was on. Praise indeed must go to John Preston who deftly handled a mixture of motivations among those of us attending the course.

Something he said on the first evening has stuck with me: "Meditation is not about achieving a state of relaxation; it is about accessing the calm already within."

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