Mindfulness meditation is quite a paradoxical skill; in many ways it’s completely effortless, yet it requires a lot of discipline and dedication. As such, much of what we do at Open Meditation is to simplify meditation for beginners so that the initial hurdle of learning the basics of mindfulness, familiarising one with the key mindfulness meditation techniques and starting a daily practice is easier to overcome.
The title of this post is somewhat confusing, because it immediately draws attention to meditation classes in London, rather than just the meditation classes in general. This is no accident; London is a city that presents would-be meditators with a unique array of challenges.
Thoughts are a lot like feral cats. If you get into the habit of feeding them, you'll find more and more at your door every day. Soon you won't be able to hear yourself think because of all the meowing. They'll be there all day and all night, howling for more food. You might think that by feeding all of them they'll go away, so you leave a can of tuna outside your door. Some of them do stop meowing and for a moment it seems like the problem has been solved, but the next day there are twice as many.
Mindfulness meditation is a process of letting go; letting go of the way you think things should be and accepting what is. Often this can be hard when we start out, especially if we've been told that we need to let go, live in the present, and stop fretting about things. The harder we try, the more confused we get. The way to do it is to allow it to emerge - to focus all of your intent on simply being, not straying from being aware of the content of your own experience.
If you read about the ancient contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism, you might come across the term of nothingness or emptiness. A famous Buddhist sutra, The Heart Sutra, reads: "form is emptiness, emptiness if form". This is fairly confusing at first glance - . what it means it that matter and the emptiness it sits in are fundamentally the same thing. Why does this 'matter'? Because the logical extension is that you are everything you see, and it is you. You are both everything and nothing at the same time.
Living mindfully in a city requires a different approach to living mindfully within nature. A city like London is actively trying to grab your attention; every headline you see on an abandoned newspaper demands you make a judgement, advertisements shout for your attention and the constant stream of people and traffic is an assault on your senses.