Another dose of Tibetan healing…
I’m sitting cross-legged on a cushion, mesmerised by the intense stare of the huge golden statue in front of me. Incense saunters around the room and a rhythmic low chanting thickens the air. A deep feeling of peace inches through my body and my mind stills. I’m at a Tibetan Buddhist centre, not up in the Himalayas, but just outside Doncaster.
Many years ago I met Kate Roddick , a practitioner of Tibetan healing, who practices in Edinburgh. Kate is one of the great wisdom keepers, an incredible teacher who imparts her knowledge with clarity, kindness and a delicious sense of humour. So when she said she was offering a workshop at Gomde Lindholme Hall Buddhist Centre in South Yorkshire, I swiftly booked.
Gomde is effectively an island, surrounded by ancient wetlands. The centre runs regular retreats and seminars, and offers a weekly meditation group for anyone interested in finding out more about Buddhist philosophy and practice. It’s a warm, welcoming place and, blissfully, doesn’t cost the earth.
Kate’s fundamental teaching for the weekend is that we should ‘think BIG’- each letter of the word reminding us of three vital points. B is for Birth, what Buddhists call our ‘precious human birth’. ‘We’ve got it all really, simply because we’re here,’ she says. It stops me in my tracks. She’s right. We have a huge opportunity, just being alive at this time, with the people around us. Life really is precious and everything is an opportunity.
The ‘I’ stands for Impermanence, another vital Buddhist concept. ‘Everything changes all the time,’ says Kate. ‘We tend to freeze-frame – we have this notion that ‘this is who I am’ but we are much greater than that. Things are changing and we change with them.’ There is sadness here, of course, but also freedom.
Finally there is G – for gratefulness. ‘Have a feeling of gratefulness, even when things are difficult,’ says Kate. ‘Look at what is good in the situation. Obstacles can be a complete blessing, an inspiration.’
Well, that can be easier said than done. ‘It all comes down to changing how we think,’ Kate advises. ‘Our whole being is based on habitual thinking so, if we change our thinking, we change our lives. Our mind is the universe so we need to look after our mind and understand it.’
Meditation is obviously a key part of the equation but I also loved a simple exercise Kate gave us called Oaking.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Now imagine you have roots that go right down to the centre of the earth while your branches sway gently in the air. Your mind is clear and still, like an ancient oak. ‘You can do it anywhere,’ says Kate. ‘When your train is late; when you feel the urge to have a big slice of cake. Just stand or sit, and ‘oak’ – it will bring you back to yourself.’
Try it – and notice the difference. Also, do check out Gomde – it’s a little oasis of peace in this hectic world.
Image by Atul Vinayak at Unsplash