Compassion meditation practice is designed to support health, happiness and wellbeing. A new compassion meditation group has been created at the University of Kent. Supported by funding from the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards, the group meets on the Canterbury campus every Thursday.
A new meditation group has been formed at the University of Kent to teach students compassion-based methods. Funded by the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards, the group will learn traditional approaches that focus on health, happiness and wellbeing. Stephen Gene Morris, an experienced meditation teacher, researcher and neuropsychologist, will be leading the weekly sessions.
The group’s founder, Stephen, has practised meditation for 25 years and studied its structures and operational components. He will teach a secular compassion practice, rooted in traditional methods, supported by reliable scientific evidence. Care for oneself and the wider community is a foundational concept in many spiritual traditions, and compassionate meditation has been used in Mahayana Buddhism for almost a thousand years. But in recent decades, scientists have been investigating the relationship between compassion and health; several interventions such as Compassion Focused Therapy have demonstrated the importance of kindness towards others in our thoughts and feelings. The group will be using self-other compassion training to think positively about oneself and the wider community, bringing benefits to the meditator and a sense of interconnectivity with the people around us.
‘The goals of this self-other compassion meditation are health, happiness and wellbeing. I use a well known Buddhist form of compassion training, Tonglen, as the basis for this method. But while the original psychological elements have been retained, the imagery and context are adapted for a modern secular audience. In my experience, this is a form of meditation that can bring long-lasting benefits to practitioners, and it’s suitable for beginners and more experienced meditators
Stephen Gene Morris
Compassion meditation classes take place every Thursday at 5 pm in room CNWsr5 on the University of Kent Campus in Canterbury. The meditation is followed by a brief social when people can ask questions and share experiences. Soft drinks and snacks are provided. A second session is held two hours later online using the Zoom platform (7 pm) for those who wish to participate remotely. For more details or to register for the online session, email Stephen at email@example.com. To keep in touch with the group’s activities, follow the @KentCompassion Twitter account.
A unique opportunity for meditation and mindfulness in Kent
Cutting edge meditation comes to Canterbury, book a class!
Mind training has been undergoing a revolution over the last decade with different forms of meditation and mindfulness being offered in diverse settings including, schools, prisons and the workplace. However one of the groups least catered for in terms of meditation is adults over 40, even though this age range might get the greatest benefits from regular meditation practice. Scientific research has demonstrated a relationship between regular meditation and improved brain (cognitive) functions such as memory and attention. The first visible signs of cognitive decline tend to be visible during our 40s, and their deterioration can continue for the rest of our lives, potentiality leading to increased cognitive impairment and eventually dementia. However when practiced regularly meditation is linked to maintaining a younger, healthier brain.
“Cognitive decline begins at about the age of 30 perhaps earlier, most people will have visible signs of an ageing brain in their 40s, this decline can ultimately develop into mild cognitive impairment and even dementia!”
The evidence indicates that we start to experience cognitive decline in our late 20s to early 30s, this is described as brain aging and it is progressive process. Today neuroscience has shown that the rate at which a brain ages is connected to our environment as well as our genes. Lifestyle choice such as if we smoke, what we eat and how we live our lives can have a dramatic impact on brain health and the speed of cognitive decline. Recent research demonstrated that regular meditators had brains seven years younger than non meditators at age 50. Neuroscience research has also confirmed that new brain structure can be created throughout our lives.
Trained neuroscientist and meditation researcher Stephen Gene Morris is opening a Brain Renewal Meditation (BRM) class in Canterbury. BRM combines the latest scientific research from cognitive psychology and neuroscience with established meditation
methods. BRM is based on traditional compassion mind training and mindfulness meditation. The practice is suitable for any adult, requires no prior knowledge or meditation experience. BRM is appropriate for anyone over the age of 18 but it has been created specifically for people of 40 and older. The meditation is primarily a compassion based practice which means the method is linked to the aspiration to reduce suffering for oneself and other. As Stephen explains “compassion is a reliable method of brain training, it’s been around for a long time, in its BRM configuration it uses the most useful elements of mindfulness and nondual meditation”.
“BRM engages the mechanisms for self interests and wider empathy networks, it promotes brain health and is linked to increasing a positive and engaged outlook.”
September will welcome a leading international Meditation Master to Rochester.
A leading Tibetan Meditation Master, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche will be giving an evening lecture in Rochester this September. The reknown Buddhist teacher, is a former translator to HH the 14th Dali Lama and the founder of the Bodhicharya movement
Rinpoche will be giving public lectures (open to all) on the 24th and 25th September, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Corn Exchange, Northgate, 51-55 Rochester High Street, Kent, ME1 1LS. More details from bodhicharya-kent.org.
News this morning that Canterbury was successful in its bid to bring a medical school to the city has been widely acclaimed. For those that don’t know, the city is an important global centre of education. It boasts three universities, a regional further education college and a wealth of private educational institutions along with some excellent primary and secondary schools. This latest announcement underlines what a great place the city is to live and work in. Teaching meditation here feels like a privilege, there’s always new meditation students, as well as interaction with scholarly Buddhist academics and advanced practitioners.
And yet the numbers of homeless people in Canterbury has never been higher (in living memory), the inequality in living standards is shocking and there are a number of areas described as economically deprived nearby. The local NHS trust is also one of the most lowly ranked in the UK. So what is the real picture? There are opportunities and challenges everywhere, how you view where you live and the people you live with is central to your happiness and wellbeing. If you are not happy with your conditions you need to try and improve them… but the worst option is to be unhappy and not do anything about it.
This is not about blind optimism, don’t ignore the problems and issues in your community, try to contribute to the improvement of your environment. But to denigrate your conditions and to imagine the grass is always greener somewhere else won’t make you feel great with life. You need to find real positives and build upon them. One of the root causes of unhappiness that I encounter in my day to day life is the idea that the conditions aren’t right for development and progress. In reality the conditions to improve things are never perfect, it’s much more a question of making a choice rather than waiting for your problems to resolve themselves.
“find real positives and build upon them”
From the nondual perspective thinking of things constantly as better or worse builds limitations, particularly if you apply this thinking to yourself. Relatively there is no perfect time to meditate, no perfect place to meditate and no perfect meditation practice. You have to work with what you have and progress to where you want to be. If happiness is your goal, start to think about your own happiness and the happiness of others, work towards greater happiness generally and disengage with things that you know create unhappiness or harm.