For as long as I remember I have been on a quest to understand my place in life, the universe and everything. This started from an interest in science, space, alien life and the archaeological remains left by ancient peoples. My first degree was in mathematical physics with astrophysics, which I loved, but which I soon discovered was not going to give me the answers I was looking for.
Then life intervened – career as a patent lawyer & marriage (two of them!). After the birth of my daughter I was shocked to discover that I was not in control of my life and was not able to engineer it to meet my preferences, no matter how much effort I made. This led me again to my quest, which took two directions: yoga practice and a re-kindled interest in archaeology, particularly alignments of ancient sites with the sun, moon and stars. I had a place on a Masters course to study scientific archaeology. But when it came to it, I opted instead to train to be a yoga teacher, which very happily led me to where I am now.
So I was delighted to visit the Bull Ring henge monument in the village of Dove Holes with my daughter yesterday as part of her A-Level archaeology project, exploring late Bronze Age & early Iron Age sites in the Peak District where we live. It was curious to imagine the farming communities meeting here 4000 years age for ritual activities. It was especially interesting that the site was next to the community centre and that nearby was a pile of wood and crates ready to be burned in a ritual bonfire on 5th November. This apparent continuity of community and spirituality was further reinforced by the location of a burial barrow, close to the site, which abutted the wall of the grave yard of the church.
Were those people who came to the Bull Ring all those years ago answering a basic human need to find spiritual meaning to their lives? A need to understand their place in the world? A need that, for many, is no longer met by the church services across the country? How do people in our modern consumerist & individualistic society meet this basic human need?
Graeme Nixon from the University of Aberdeen, in our MSc in Mindfulness, talks about how Mindfulness, derived from its Buddhist roots, might form the basis of a secular spirituality and that this might be a reason for the popularity of Mindfulness and Buddhism that we see just now. How many of our friends and neighbours have a Buddha statue in their house or garden? If you are interested in this exploration then you can find details of the MSc at The University of Aberdeen.
Also, the Bull Ring, community centre and bonfire point to our human need for a community of like minded individuals. At the MA we have been working over the years to build a community of practitioners, which continues to develop. We hope to support this by our long term Mindfulness training pathways and by our membership. The weekly online sits, the monthly online teachings and our membership weekends, for our members help to do this. We are constantly trying to improve the support we offer to members. We are currently planning another membership weekend, next year, to promote the launch of Choden’s and my new MBLC book. Also, we are planning membership practice days and a new 6 week online course in the new year. Members also get a half price fee to attend our June 2017 conference with Rick Hanson & Sharon Saltzberg. For details of the conference please click here and for details of the membership please click here.
So where am I now on my quest? I understand clearly that I am not going to find my place in life, the universe and everything by looking outside of myself. I am confident that any understanding of our reality comes from looking inwardly. Have a look at my talk on Insight and Science from the recent on Holy Isle for our Year 2 Masters students : to watch click here.