Awareness Exercise and Meditation Practice
Exercises in expanding our awareness have underpinned our Practical Philosophy Course since it first started in the 1950s. From the first evening of the introductory course, we aim to support a more conscious way of living.
With the help of two simple practices, the Awareness Exercise and Pausing, our students gradually become more connected with the senses and the present moment, better able to turn the attention out to whatever or whoever is in front of them and a little less subject to mental agitation and circling thoughts.
This podcast gives you an idea of what the Awareness Exercise is like:
The Awareness Exercise This could be practised two or three times a day.
Pausing is similar to the Awareness Exercise however it can readily be used throughout the day between activities. It simply means mentally falling still, before or after an activity and allowing the mind to become completely quiet, allowing a simple direct connection with the senses and resting there for a minute or two.
Practical philosophy employs observation, experimentation and practice and develops faculties such as attentive awareness, concentration and self-discipline.
As these develop, and in particular as the mind attains a deeper level of stillness, so one is better able to penetrate the big questions of life, such as "What am I?" and "what is my relationship with the universe?"
Our experience over many years has shown the real value of practice sessions, in which we work together in small groups, under the guidance of an experienced student or tutor, and practise working consciously and with full attention.
Opportunities for such practice are an integral feature of our courses after the introductory course.
Meditation has the power to cultivate inner stillness and peace in any man or woman, and to help them discover unity behind and through diversity.
The School helped pioneer meditation in the west in the early 1960s, since when it has encouraged its students to take up the practice and provides them with ongoing support to incorporate it into their lives. Our philosophy students are normally invited to take up meditation after 4-5 terms of study in the School, but it can be earlier.
A simple method of mantra-based meditation is used, designed to be of practical value in everyday life. A single word or sound (mantra) is repeated gently in the mind for two periods each day while sitting on a chair in some quiet place. It is a very simple yet profound practice.
Those practising this form of meditation find it gradually brings about inner peace, harmony and clarity of mind. It also releases finer energy necessary for awakening to the deeper truths of philosophical enquiry.
Some Quotes from students about meditation:-
"Meditation puts you in touch with yourself. All the surface things, all the trivialities of life, tend to take you away from yourself. But in meditation you leave these things alone as best you can and come back to yourself. It is like a thread which is always constant although everything else changes." Civil Engineer.
"Meditation brings us to the bedrock of our being, a place of lightness, confidence and peace." Drama Therapist.
A Quote from a master teacher of meditation:-
“Through the ages a number of systems have been given. Some are hard compared with others, some are long in relation to time. The system of meditation which has been given to us is the culmination of all simplicity by which the evolution of mankind is most easy.”
Maharaja Sri Shantananda Saraswati