Stilling the Mind with Mantra
24-25 June 2023
Stillness. Wisdom. Magic.
Still your mind. See what your mind is. Rediscover the magic. All with a simple 2-syllable mantra!
Working with mantra is a shamata (calm abiding) practice: finding a blissful pleasure in absorbing awareness into a simple phenomena for longer and longer stretches of time. However, it has three aspects that make it particularly potent:
stilling - the rhythmic absorption of the two syllables works to create the experience of blissful absorption, which makes the mind more likely to coalesce and steady naturally.
insight - through creating something with the mind and then bringing awareness to that mind-creation we become familiar with the nature and working of our minds. This is the wisdom part.
magic -using well-used mantras to connect with a power that is outside us, ignites something potent within us. It's like taking a lump of hot coal from the speech-mind of an enlightened being and using it to light the fire of our own minds.
During this London in-person weekend, you'll:
explore the nature of your mind
master the art of 'stilling'
learn energy practices to naturally still the body-mind
get the basic 2-syllable mantra practice
touch into the magic of sacred syllables
familiarise yourself with the 'Elephant Path' of shamata
Working with Mantra
Working with mantra (Manas = Mind and tra = protection) has a very long heritage in contemplative traditions.
In all shamata (steadying / concentration) practices, we take an object (could be the breath, sounds, or the mantra) and we marry our awareness to that single, simple phenomenon. Our aspiration is to completely absorb awareness with the object and enjoy the resulting states of pleasure, composure and wisdom.
Often when working with ‘external’ objects - i.e. sounds or even body phenomena like the breath - we find mental phenomena crowd out our focus. This is why mantra has a particular benefit.
In mantra we are using a mind-phenomenon as our object of our mind’s attention and in doing this we are able to 1) see the nature of mind-creations 2) melt all other mind-phenomena into the mantra.
Food, Accommodation and Pricing
Mindsprings is well aware that many people are having to tighten their belts at the moment, financially. So we offer two prices for this weekend. A full, supporters fee which helps us cover our costs and a subsidised concessionary rate for any of you who are struggling financially.
If you can pay the full price that will help us invite more people on the concessionary rate. And if you would struggle to pay that reduced ticket rate then please do drop us a line.
We never want people to miss out on meditation because of poxy old money. We can sort something out for you.
What to expect at Spa Road this June...
• the course begins at 10am and finishes at 5pm each day. We'll have an hour for lunch and a couple of 15 minute tea-breaks. If you can get to Spa Road a little early on Saturday to make sure we can start promptly that would be great.
• the nearest tube station is Bermondsey on the Jubilee line though there are buses that get a little closer. The postcode of the centre is SE16 3SA and their number is 020 33271650.
• there is a very nice tea room at the Centre and they can make soup and sandwiches (we'll pre-order in the first tea break) or there are several nice cafes at the near end of Bermondsey Road which we can give directions too. There's also a lovely park opposite if you'd prefer to bring your own picnic.
• we'll be using the beautiful Shrine Room at the Centre and sitting in chairs in a circle.
• the weekend will consist of practice sessions, some instruction and discussion, working in smaller groups and some individual processing.
• we'll provide electronic notes after the course so you don't need to write things down though it would be great if you could bring a pen and some paper or a notebook for some of the exercises. Recordings of the teaching will also be sent out after the course.
• the Shrine Room is usually lovely and warm but please brings some layers, especially if you feel the cold. We may step out in to the park to practice as well
• If you have any specific psychological concerns, are on prescription psychiatric medication or have a condition that you think I should know about before the course then please do let me know in a private email.
About the teacher
Alistair is a broadcaster, psychotherapist and meditation teacher.
He's worked for the BBC for more than 20 years and works as a UKCP-accredited therapist in East Sussex. Since 2004, he's run Mindsprings, his therapeutic meditation organisation which teaches body-based and Buddhist solutions to many of our everyday problems.
Mindsprings offers popular meditation-based courses on many subjects:
helping people with anxiety, dissociation, stress.
working with mental health in the LGBTQ community.
exploring the growing field of embodiment and somatic practices.
teaching Buddhist practices for mental health and well-being
Alistair teaches in England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands.
Getting to KSD London
Kagyu Samye Dzong is in the old Victorian library building on Spa Road Gardens in Bermondsey. The nearest tube station is Bermondsey on the Jubilee line though there are buses that get a little closer. The postcode of the centre is SE16 3SA and their number is 020 33271650.
Please note that there is/was an older centre at Manor Place - this is not the one you want!