Sunday, 2 August 2015

Living Fearlessly

Last week myself and two friends went along to a meditation talk titled 'Living Fearlessly' which was led by a resident teacher, (Kadam Morten Clausen), of the New York Kadampa Meditation Centre. Kadam, like all of the Buddhists I've encountered (which isn't many), emanated a sense of calm and joy and led us through an insightful hour and a half's talk and guided meditation.

The talk centred around the Buddhist teachings of  Kelsang Gyatso - at the heart of which is the simple philosophy that true happiness occurs when we feel at peace within ourselves. A lot of the philosophy I had heard before at the few meditation classes I have attended at the Glasgow Kadampa Centre (which I've also made reference to on here before), but the more you hear the simplicity of the philosophy, the more you do realise how much we tend to let our negative (or panicked) thoughts get a bit too loud.  Even if you're a positive, upbeat person most of the time, we all have an abundance of moments which make us over-analyse, along the lines of: 'but what if that were to happen' 'why is this happening???' or the torment of, 'if only I had that/did that/achieved that/they noticed me,' I know I'd be truly happy.

I can't even begin to capture half of what this Buddhist teacher said on here because it always sounds too basic when I attempt to explain it. I think the thing which resonated the most with me was when he kept saying the words, 'We need to learn to let go'. As in, let go of everything you believe will make you happy - external goals, the reliance on others to achieve your happiness. And accept that everything which has a beginning, also has an end (scary, but that's ok).

He said Buddhists like to recognise the truth -that trying to control your external world, which is always going to be in a constant flux of change, is a bit of an impossibility and shouldn't really be your focus. If you let go of that idea of control, then you can free yourself from a lot of anxiety and fear. The focus, they believe, should be on striving to have a happy and calm mind - an inner peace (so that when bad things do happen you have the strength within to deal with it), which is why they practice meditation.
I'm rubbish at trying to meditate myself at home, but I really get into the guided meditation (sometimes too much, nearly dozing off. My friend nearly fell asleep at this one - Hi Rebecca!).

I'm not saying I agree with everything that was said, but it certainly made me think, and made me want to write this post as I know a lot of people who have had a bit of a rollercoaster of a 2015 (sometimes in a bad way, sometimes in an exciting way).

I also had the chance to talk to an ordained Buddhist Monk afterwards and he very kindly answered my nosy question, 'So what exactly does your day to day involve?' (This guy leads the Glasgow meditations and always looks so happy and has the most calming presence ever). His day looks like this: Get up early - meditate, study meditation, eat lunch, teach meditation, study some more, teach mediation, take a turn cooking dinner within a shared house of Buddhists, maybe socialise, then meditate before bed.

The simplicity of his life wouldn't be for everyone, (I know I'd love it for a few weeks, then probably get bored), but it did make me wonder: Do we all follow a more complicated path than we need to, just because society has brain washed us into thinking it's normal? I sometimes worry about that, that we've all lost our so called 'free will' somewhere along the way because we're constantly being fed messages of what we think we need and what we think we want.

I'm going to finish this post with an image I came across a while ago, which I really like, and which I think is fitting for this post. Night all!


  1. Love this thoughtful post, Victoria. I think you;re right that most of us would get bored after a while, but it must be an excellent idea to take time to withdraw every now and then. That's a good image - hadn't seen those words.

    1. Thanks. I really like the ampersand image too- I came across it randomly and think it's quite profound:)

  2. This is such a thought-provoking post, Vikki. I have simplified my life over recent years so that, largely, it includes only the things (and the people) that make me truly happy and at peace with myself. I think for me, this simplification is the key to contentment, along with acceptance of what can't be changed. There are still times when I feel at odds with people or with situations, but I have taught myself to let go of it, usually because I remember how short life is,and how sweet it can be when we release all the energy-sapping and time-wasting negativity. I find that laughing at myself for being too uptight is also helpful!

    I agree with you that we are fed too many messages about what we think we should strive for and sometimes it's vital to get in touch with ourselves and discover what we really want.

    I love the ampersand quote and think it fits beautifully with your fabulous post. xx

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Joanna. Your simplified life sounds ideal. I think humour (particularly laughing at oneself) is definitely a good way to deal with life!

      I just started to read your book and your descriptions are so rich and vivid. Looking forward to getting stuck into it properly. A strange co-incidence also occurred. One of my work colleagues was telling me about Five Boys Chocolate (I'd never heard of it before) and couldn't believe it when I opened your book a few hours later only to see your character mention it! :)

  3. Lovely summing up - thanks for the (slightly embarrassing!) shout-out :)
    I really attached to the 'let it go' part and have felt a lot more calm since the talk. It's a great philosophy, and so simple but also profound. And I love that image and the words too xx

    1. Hehe. I always nearly fall asleep too :) I always feel the benefit of a bit of meditation and wise words - nice to know there's a wee sanctuary to escape to in the city when you need it x