Frequently Asked Questions

Advice on Coronavirus (covid-19)

For the time being, class sizes will be smaller than usual, which may mean you will need to book ahead for some events. All rooms will be well ventilated and we also have two air purifiers with HEPA filters. We ask that everyone wears a mask indoors, where possible. Hand sanitiser is available. Do not attend the Buddhist Centre if you are at all unwell. We are also continuing with some events online and other events will be hybrid, allowing for both attendance in person and online.

See our Policies page for a copy of our full guidelines and risk asessment

Buddhism

Over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha was the first person to gain enlightenment and to teach what we now call Buddhism. The Buddhist path of ethics, meditation and wisdom helps us realise untapped potential. To find out more you can find suitable books here.

We offer introductory courses in Meditation and Buddhism; see our Buddhism page for details.

Sangha Night is a weekly class every Tuesday that explores how Buddhism can be applied to your life.

All our meditation and Buddhism classes are freely given, with the financing of the Centre based on “dana” (generosity). Our aim is to inspire a culture of generosity in the way we share Buddhist teachings. We teach Buddhism and meditation because we believe in its benefit to the world, not because we need to generate funds.

We rely on the generosity of visitors and supporters to keep the Centre and its activities alive and available. We warmly invite you to participate in this radical venture with an act of generosity. We would be grateful for any donation you can make.

Unfortunately, we are not usually able to offer reductions below the concessionary rate on Yoga, Tai Chi or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Meditation

Meditation is suitable for anyone, regardless of his or her beliefs. However if you have mental health problems or are on medication for mental health reasons it is important that you enquire about the suitability of the practices for you before attending. Our Buddhism courses explore the Buddhist context of meditation.

Visit our YouTube channel for instructional videos on how to meditate. We offer introductory courses in Meditation and Buddhism; see our Meditation page for details.

You can also join us for meditation via Zoom on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday lunchtimes.

 

No need to bring anything, just wear loose comfortable clothes. We provide the rest.

All our meditation and Buddhism classes are freely given, with the financing of the Centre based on “dana” (generosity). Our aim is to inspire a culture of generosity in the way we share Buddhist teachings. We teach Buddhism and meditation because we believe in its benefit to the world, not because we need to generate funds.

We rely on the generosity of visitors and supporters to keep the Centre and its activities alive and available. We warmly invite you to participate in this radical venture with an act of generosity. We would be grateful for any donation you can make.

Unfortunately, we are not usually able to offer reductions below the concessionary rate on Yoga, Tai Chi or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to our experience which helps to free us from cycles of reactivity.

Research evidence shows that practising mindfulness can help significantly in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.

MBSR courses consist of nine sessions, each of two and a half hours, plus a full day workshop. The first session is an introduction, which gives an opportunity for you and the course tutor to assess whether this is the right time for you to attend. Courses run three times a year in January, April and September. 

Each of our courses is led by two experienced teachers. Ruchiraketu holds a Masters in Mindfulness Based Approaches from Bangor University where he now teaches on the Masters programme. Sagaraghosha has been meditating since 1996. She has supported and co-led MBSR courses since 2009 and has been trained by Ruchiraketu.

Relaxation

Relaxation comprises a wide range of physical and mental states of low/no stress that have restorative and harmonising effects on the body and nervous system. Relaxation is also a process of releasing tension in the body and mind and switching-off the ‘stress mode.’ Relaxation is a practice that benefits from repetition and practice.

Some of the approaches in Relaxation courses are unsuitable for people going through active psychosis, active clinical depression, or severe personality disorder.  Do contact Sarvatajnana beforehand to discuss anything around mental health concerns at sdeiringer@gmail.com.

There are many pathways to relaxation; different traditions that use a wide range of exercises. Most people find that some pathways to relaxation are more beneficial for them than others.

A good place to start is our Introductory course, where you can learn basic principles while trying out different methods.

Some pathways to relaxation are unsuitable for people going through psychosis, clinical depression, or personality disorder. Other exercises may need to be adapted for people with physical disabilities. Please contact Sarvatajnana to discuss any health concerns before booking a course.

The Training courses offer training from specific traditions: Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Autogenics, and Flow (gentle movements and Yoga Nidra). To fully benefit from these courses, you want to be sure that

  • the relaxation pathway of a specific course is suitable for you, ideally by having completed an Introductory course; and
  • you can practice for about 30 minutes every day; daily practice is essential for Autogenic Training, very beneficial for Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training, and a bit more optional for Somatic Movement Relaxation and Yoga Nidra.

Intermediate courses are for going deeper using autogenics, movement, PMR, Yoga Nidra (prerequisites), and meditation.

Research evidence shows that a suitable, regular relaxation practice can improve: concentration and sleep, general wellbeing, inner peace, creativity, meditation, as well as encourage gentle psychological processing to release physical and emotional tensions and anxieties. Many pathways to relaxation can help significantly to harmonise the autonomic nervous system and ease many of the physical and mental issues associated with the autonomic nervous system.

Relaxation practice needs to be undertaken for a period of time; it is not like surgery, where something is removed from your body once and for all.

You can contact Sarvatajnana to discuss the evidence-based research available regarding your particular issue and the relaxation methods we offer to help you decide which relaxation course to choose. Only your personal experience over time will reveal the benefits it has for you.

As a rule of thumb, two to three months of daily practice and learning can give you a good idea of possible benefits regarding your specific issue, as well as your overall wellbeing. And regular practice is usually necessary to keep these benefits alive.

Although all of the relaxation exercises and training we offer are used widely around the world, some of them have not been very popular in the UK. In many European countries, both autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation training are popular and widely available, and often paid for by health care providers. Just as Mindfulness-based stress reduction courses over the last decades in the UK, and more recently Yoga Nidra have become more widely known.

Most relaxation exercises have complex effects on the nervous system and mind, and their effects need a bit of monitoring. Discuss with Sarvatajana before passing specific training materials on to others.

Sarvatajnana is not qualified to offer teacher training, so if you want to teach what you have learned in a relaxation course, you need to go through appropriate teacher/therapist training elsewhere first.

Retreats

 A retreat is an opportunity to withdraw from your normal daily activities in an environment that offers quiet and freedom from distraction. It is a time to step back from external stimuli, your job, daily responsibilities, from the news, from planning, projects, from society at large. A retreat provides positive conditions for going inward, for stilling our energies so we can attend to the inner life. Sharing a retreat with others creates a happy environment. Communication often becomes naturally positive and supportive and friendships can be formed. 

We run weekend retreats under three different categories:

First Retreat or Newcomers - for those who have not been on our retreats before or who are very new to meditation and Buddhism.

Open Retreats for people who have learnt the two meditations we teach, although some are also suitable for newcomers (check the description for whether they are suitable for you). These retreats provide a relaxed programme of meditation, and will not assume you have much knowledge of Buddhism or experience of Buddhist ritual.

Sangha Retreats will often have a Buddhist theme, and will assume people are happy to participate in a Buddhist ritual without much prior explanation. There may also be a more intensive programme of meditation. These retreats are also suitable for mitras and Order members.

To find out about longer retreats run by other Triratna Retreat Centres look here.

Retreats are residential, with simple but comfortable sleeping accomodation. Most rooms are shared but you can request a single room if you have a particular need.

Retreatants help with the cooking and washing up (a good opportunity to get to know one another!)

The timetable is usually pretty relaxed, with a mixture of sessions of meditation, discussion, talks, ritual, and free time. The exact timetable and activities will depend on the retreat. But you don't need worry about having to sit for hours on end!

We ask you to commit to attending the entire retreat. It is important that we value the time that we and others are putting aside to be on retreat. A successful retreat is the fruit of everyone’s wholehearted participation.

Accommodation is mainly in single sex shared rooms for 2-4 people. So, to attend a retreat you need to be prepared to share a room. If you have a serious medical condition or disability that impacts on room sharing please contact the office at the time of your booking to discuss your needs.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is based upon relaxation of body and mind. The quiet and gentle nature of the exercise overcomes stress and its related illnesses. Other benefits include improved blood circulation, better posture and alignment, and a strengthened immune system. All contributing to greater quality of life and likely quantity.

The introductory courses are suitable for all. Even those with previous experience may find there is much of interest on the introductory courses. 

The regulars courses build on what we learn in the introductory courses and as such we ask that you have completed at least one introductory course before attending the regulars course.

We teach the yang style short form and five relaxing exercises. This style belongs to the Taiji school of Central Equilibrium, of which our teacher, Abhayamati, is an instructor.

Just wear loose comfortable clothes that allow you freedom of movement. We either practise in bare feet or in flat shoes with no heel and non-marking soles.

Yoga

Yoga was first codified in the yoga sutra of Patanjali sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. Traditionally the aim of yoga is ‘kaivalya’ or emancipation. Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga ( yoga of 8 ‘limbs’ or stages) includes asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control), as the 3rd and 4th stages.

In modern times asana and pranayama practices have been popularised on the basis of their benefits to health and general well-being. No particular religious affiliation is required in order to benefit from yoga practice.

Dhiyampati and Kathy teach Iyengar Yoga plus, our most senior teacher, Shuddhasara, draws on her decades of experience for her yoga classes.

BKS Iyengar (1918 - 2014) systematised over 200 classical asanas and many pranayama techniques. In his system emphasis is placed on precise alignment in the postures. Use is made of props such as belts, blocks, bricks, and blankets in order that students of any level can work safely and effectively within the asanas. It is one of the most practiced forms of yoga worldwide.

Once a student is stable in their postural practice observation of the breath is introduced, initially in savasana (relaxation), which leads on to pranayama.

The benefits of regular practice can include enhanced flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination, as well as improved mental clarity and emotional stability.

Wear anything comfortable that allows you to stretch, bend, sit on the floor etc. Yoga is done barefoot.

There is a changing room at the Buddhist Centre.