Tag Archives: Buddhism

London for the day – Image #99

Today Dee and I went to London to look for some specific items. We went to Camden Market looking for Tibetan Singing Bowls: we found some but decided not to get them as they seemed a little pricy. The market itself was buzzing, but not overly busy.

We then travelled south of the river and met up with my brother at Samye Dzong, which as well as having two Buddhist shrines also has tea rooms and a shop. We found and bought a singing bowl there, spent a couple of hours chatting over tea and spent a bit of time in Mindful Meditation.

A bus ride from there brought us to Denmark Street, near Tottenham Court Road. It’s also known as Tin Pan Alley and is renowned as the place to go for musical instruments. Even though it was late in the day, several shops were still open. You know you’re in the right spot of place when you can talk about a brand of bass they don’t have (but know of), ask what strings are best for the style of music you’re going to play and then spend the next 10-15 minutes hearing about the relative merits of the various options. As for the basses they did have – I could have spent a fortune!

image

Unfortunately, due to commercial pressures I’ve heard that much of the street is to be torn down so new modern buildings can out built instead. Music shops which have been there for decades will doubtless have to close and find somewhere else. I for one think it’s brilliant having so much variety and choice in the same stretch of 100 yards or so. If they do have to move, I hope the proprietors club together and open up in the same premises, a bit like a big department store perhaps. That would be awesome and would continue to bewitch us punters I’m sure.

image

There’s a dinosaur in my… Image #29!

Picture the scene. It’s Friday night, the end of a long hard week. You’ve just spent an hour or so in a large church hall, being instructed in Mindful Meditation by a bona fide Buddhist monk who is wearing a wireless mic and whose mobile phone case matches his robes. Taking advantage of a comfort break, you go to wash your hands, and there’s a dinosaur on the sink!

image

There was a weird contradiction with Buddhist practices being taught in a Christian venue, and a monk using modern technology seems a little odd too, but plastic dinosaurs? Really? Just weird!

Incidentally, the monk has a wicked sense of humour, and we’ve noticed that he likes to start the second half of each session with a joke. and his jokes aren’t bad!

Exploring Tibet’s Secret Temple – Image #23

Except it’s not so secret now, is it? 🙂 Today we had a trip to London to see an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. They have a number of really interesting shows on over the course of a year, along with a great shop! We’ve been to see several exhibitions over the last year, it’s free entry and for the first time we actually had to queue to get in. There was only a 10-15 minute wait as the queue moved quite quickly.   

  
The theme for this show is based in a series of murals from a private meditation chamber in the Lukhang Temple in Lhasa, which was used by a number of Dalai Lamas, and which was originally built by the 6th Dalai Lama back in the 17th century. It was fascinating to read so much of the history, and to find that the monastic way of life didn’t suit everyone! 

I have to say that I struggled with some of the exhibits which featured skull drums, bone trumpets and bone ornaments, but it was interesting nonetheless. I’d hoped for more on meditation as I’m currently doing a course on that, and felt that that aspect was perhaps rushed a little (kind of ironic when you think about it), but on the whole it was a great way to spend the afternoon. Masala chai and book buying in the shop followed. Can’t wait to see what else they put on in the year ahead. 

I think I must be part Boov

I have to admit that I’ve taken the phrase in the title image from the file “Home”, where an alien race called the Boov invade Earth.  One of the Boov is called Oh (that’s what everyone says when he appears) and he utters the phrase I’ve “borrowed”.

In many respects I feel that I “fit out”, in terms of what family, friends and  society may expect of me.  Admittedly I also “fit in” or conform to a lot of the norms, such as holding down a job, having a house and mortgage, paying my taxes and bills etc.  But am I “normal”?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  What is “normal”, and who decides what it is?  I don’t have the wife and 2,4 children that Western society expects – though since divorcing my ex I have a new partner and am stepdad to 2 children, so I guess that’s pretty close to conforming?

In the last year I’ve embraced spirituality, and have particularly found peace and purpose in Buddhism.  I’ve started mindful meditation and am trying to practice that every day, along with mindfulness in general. I burn incense every day at home, and can’t seem to pass a shop selling the stuff without buying some.  I guess that the upshot of all that is that I’m trying to slow down, to get off the rollercoaster of life and to enjoy every moment. It strikes me that this is not a “normal” thing to do and that it’s perhaps one way in which I fit out.

I’m also looking to spend some of my spare time volunteering or helping others in some way.  I’ve read somewhere that there are over 20 million volunteers in the UK – that’s about 1 in 7 of the population, so maybe that’s more like fitting in, but in the circles I’ve moved in in the past it’s definitely fitting out.  It’s all a bit daunting, but I’m looking forward to it too.

Again, in the circles I used to move in, with the friends I had with my ex, alcohol played quite a significant part.  Not only have a I cut down drastically on my intake over the last year, I’ve signed up to give up alcohol completely for all of January.  This is definitely not “normal” in my experience, and the last time I had two alcohol free weeks was when climbing Kilimanjaro several years ago.  (It’s going well though, thanks for asking.)

At the ripe old age of nearly 50 I’ve joined a band playing music from the 50s-70s, rock and roll as it should be.  This is a bit of a departure from playing in an originals heavy rock band (which was probably more fitting out than the new band) but it’s still a bit of an odd thing to do for someone my age I think.  Too old to be trendy but too young to be vintage!

Then there’s the type of music I listen to.  I’m still going to see my favourite punk bands from when I was a teenager (I’m so glad they’re still going / still alive) and there’s a real feeling of togetherness at those gigs.  The rest of the crowd are like me, of a similar age (generally) and I’m guessing all enjoying the gig for the same reasons as me.  But when I was in my teens, that style of music was not mainstream, and we were definitely on the outside looking in.

Do you know what though? I like my new life, I like being me, and I like fitting out.  And I’m not the only one.  Check this out on my partner Dee’s site, Helping You Sparkle.  This is what inspired me to write this post.

 

January Reading – Image #10

Maybe a shot a day isn’t that easy! I didn’t take any while out and about, so thought I’d share what I’m currently reading.

The Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh is a very easy to read, thought provoking and inspiring look a how choosing our words (both written and spoken) with care can make ourselves and others happy. I’m trying to adopt its principles and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald tells the story of how Edward Snowden’s revelations were published, by the journalist who wrote the articles. Really interesting and again thought provoking: I’m enjoying this one too.

January reading
January reading

Spirits in the Material World

Apologies to The Police for using one of their song titles for this item, but it seemed apposite somehow.  Regular readers will know that 2015 has been a year of big changes for me, and one area which I’ve not really touched on is the spiritual one.  Before you pass the rest of this article by, I’m not going to get all religious on you, spouting off about some great being looking down on us and handing down lessons which may or may not have been true.  (And, by the way, if that’s what you choose to believe in, I’m cool with that.  Each to their own and all that, but it’s not for me.) Continue reading Spirits in the Material World