Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes
Meditation Classes Melbourne
Classes recommence in 2018 on Tuesday February 6 – 7.00pm to 8.00pm. More on these meditation classes here.
Learn to meditate – introductory meditation class, Melbourne
Take a breath, create some time and space, and relax. Enter into the wonderful stillness, peace and calm that awaits you in meditation. Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes is offering ‘Learn to meditate’ classes for beginners. Those wishing to explore the benefits of meditation and mindfulness will find these classes of value.
It is always the right time to learn to meditate. However we often need some convincing to make the time. Yes, we can all benefit from a means to reduce the effects of stress. We can see the benefits of better focus and sharper awareness. Likewise, better health and sleep are attractive. But even hearing the common benefits of meditation or thoroughly reading the ever-growing encyclopedia of scientific evidence is not enough. To be convinced we have to actually try it as guided by an experienced practitioner.
Personal experience validates the benefits of meditation. You experience how meditation and mindfulness leads to ever better states of mind. This brings more and deeper experiences of happiness, peace and freedom in life.
Even thinking that you are too busy to meditate is a sure sign of a need to meditate. Time management issues can be resolved. Moreover, the clarity developed in meditation makes brilliant use of your precious time. As a consequence you are more productive and feel less busy at the same time. All this by using more of the power of your mind by learning how to meditate.
In fact, meditation and mindfulness are the greatest lifeskills of all. And the mindfulness that is a part of meditation brings clarity and focus into all spheres of daily life.
The aim of our meditation classes
Learning to meditate from an experienced and authentic meditation teacher sets meditation practice in its true context. Finally we have a path to ever greater happiness, joy and bliss. Here we find increasing freedom from stress, pressure and suffering.
The real purpose of meditation and mindfulness practice is to help us feel great. It is to release us from limitation and unpleasant experiences, from bad habits and suffering.
Thus meditation shows how to find happiness and a sense of relaxation and peace within. At the same time meditation will take us to a natural level of happiness that is a constant sense of bliss. This comes from within no matter what is happening around you in life. It is just always there. Always available to you.
Venerable Toby Gillies
Our last classes for 2017 were on Tuesday November 28.
Classes begin again in 2018 on Tuesday, February 6.
We have listed some of the more recent blog posts below in this column in case you fancy some reading during the break.
How karma works in Buddhism: I won the fight, but.. People often ask me how karma works. What is the connection between cause and effect? How is it that our actions come back at us? In an earlier article I summarised karma and examined how it works to our benefit in...
Learn to meditate classes in 2017
Over the course of these weekly introductory meditation classes you will begin to notice the effect of regular attendance and practicse. First of all any stress and anxiety will be noticeably reduced. Then a new sense of stillness and calm is found. Most of all, with mindfulness we are then able to extend the benefits of meditation into all parts of our lives.
Meditation is a spiritual journey that helps to conquer our fears. It also moves our emotions into a positive and happy direction. Regular practice quickly releases us from the hold of negativity and limitation.
Mindful living brings a new awareness of ourselves and those we interact with. We thus begin to see more clearly the workings of the mind and to identify where the contents of mind are helping us. Then we can contrast this with where our mindset may be hindering us and blocking our development. As we learn more we gain the meditation methods we can use to overcome hindrances.
Meditation, mindfulness and the workings of the mind
Meditation is above all a tool for understanding the mind with all its conceptuality, habits, feelings, emotions and intuitive senses. Until we meditate, most of what happens in the mind does so sub-consciously. As a result we are reactively and uncontrollably driven from one experience to the next. But meditation makes the sub-conscious mind come into the awareness of the conscious mind. It thus gives us choice and freedom over habit and reaction.
Further, as our inner world changes, physical changes occour as well. Consequently, improved health, more energy and better sleep are experienced. It is for this reason that doctors, nurses and traditional health professionals increasingly recommend meditation and mindfulness practice as an adjunct to healing. The mind-body connection of Buddhist thought is now well recognised and more recently highlighted in the discoveries of neuroscience.
Most noteworthy, the brain mapping techniques of neuroscience put meditators as the happiest people on earth.
Study and meditation: learning how to meditate successfully
Engaging in meditation practice with a traditional teacher exposes the need for continued learning to accompany practice. This combination of listening to teachings and practice has guided the Buddhist approach and is a feature of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Because the results of meditation practice depend on how skilfully we direct it, we need to study the practice thoroughly. Study provides both direction for practice and, importantly, inspiration and motivation to continue.
In addition, the more we learn the more we are inspired to practise until we gain a true realisation. This realisation is an unshakeable spiritual ground, or level of attainment. For that reason our meditation classes in Melbourne provide a supportive and enjoyable environment in which to continue learning while developing our meditation practice. In that way we study the stages of the path to enlightenment properly and learn how to progress through them.
Furthermore, weekly meditation classes will encourage daily meditations. Consequently our mind will open to all the richness that life has to offer.
Study and meditation have been the two pillars of spiritual progress through millenia in Buddhist teachings.
What to expect if I am new to meditation classes
Melbourne Buddhist meditation classses are held in the main hall at the Augustine Centre, 2 Minona Street Hawthorn, Melbourne. Most find the straight-backed chairs and armchairs provided are the preferred option. However cushions are available for those who prefer sitting cross-legged and the floor is carpeted. The hall is a quiet and relaxed environment.
You do not need to bring anything. Just come as you are, whether straight from work or home. Bring notebook and pen if you like, but you will probably find it unnecessary. The venue is a nice central location for accesss from most suburbs in Melbourne. Our students come from all over Melbourne and some come from even further afield. As soon as you establish the connection you will find any travel well worth the effort.
How the classes are structured
Each session comprises an introduction to meditation with a full explanation of how to meditate. Then there is a guided meditation session and an opportunity for questions at the conclusion.
The sessions are very relaxed (well, you would hope so wouldn’t you!) and friendly. Our eight week courses start with the very basics. We move from posture onwards because we assume no prior knowledge. Hence the sessions are structured in 8 week blocks. However, if you feel the urge it is fine to come along at any point. You can pick up all you need and then carry on to the next eight week meditation course if you wish.
Most of all just try it out. Experience trumps information and theory.
Anyone can meditate but some find it easier than others. However it is of no consequence either way. This is because the results are more determined by consistency. Making the effort and commitment are the main factors. Hence whether you find it easier or a bit more difficult is neither here nor there. The most important thing is finding a good teacher.
Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes will help you feel comfortable and completely at home.
Who is the teacher guiding your meditation practice
All Melbourne Buddhist meditation classes are given by our teacher, Venerable Toby Gillies. Venerable Toby is a fully-ordained Buddhist monk in the tradition of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has been ordained for over thirty years. Ven. Toby has been teaching all that time and also for several years prior to ordination.
Toby trained under the renowned meditation master and scholar-monk Geshe Thubten Loden. Also he worked for his teacher in establishing the Tibetan Buddhist Society in Australia and writing his nine internationally acclaimed books. In addition Venerable Toby has spent years of his life in meditation retreat and trained in monastic settings both here and overseas.
Ven. Toby is a member of the SeraJe monastic University in Mysore, India. Seraje has over 3000 monks and Toby joined the monastery in 1989. He regularly studied at the monastery over the years with his teacher Geshe Thubten Loden. Toby has put decades of effort into studying all the major texts that comprise the curriculum at SeraJe. He is a member of the Denma College at the monastery.
A Buddhist monk teaching meditation classes in Melbourne
All that training may sound a bit daunting, but Toby has been teaching beginners for 40 years. And he has a wonderful knack of making things clear, accessible and free of dogma. Toby understands the demands of modern western life and knows that we have to start somewhere. Therefore he understands that progress is a gradual thing. So he will take you as far as you can go with meditation, by steadily and progressively building your knowledge and experience.
Toby is very down to earth and conducts the classes in great humour and naturally conveys a sense of peace and relaxation. Ven. Toby has taught thousands of people how to meditate and introduced them to the path to enlightenment. Some may know him from his time in East Melbourne, Balaclava, Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, the Mornington peninsula, the northern suburbs and western suburbs of Melbourne. For the last few years he has been teaching his classes in Hawthorn since establishing Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes. Also he periodically gives workshops and classes at the Beaumaris Buddhist Meditation Centre.
Finding an authentic spiritual guide for a meditation teacher is very important as it brings with it the blessing of the lineage. Meeting a proper lineage of teachings can speed your progress immeasurably and ensure the ultimate direction of your meditation practice.
Mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness is integral to meditation. It is one of the mental powers used for developing concentration. All of the introductory and advanced classes in meditation practice that we offer also develop the practice of mindfulness. Some classes focus specifically on mindfulness training.
The common understanding of mindfulness is ‘paying attention’. This is most often related to paying full attention to the present moment. That is, to remain fully attentive to whatever presents right now. Some add that we should do this purposefully. However, mindfulness is more than just that.
The literal translation of the sankrit, pali and Tibetan terms for mindfulness is simply ‘remembering’. A better understanding than ‘paying attention’ then would be ‘retaining attention’. It is this ability to retain the object of concentration in mind which is a major part of meditation practice. Certainly doing so keeps you very present, very much here and now. If you are distracted in flights of fantasy into the past or future, ‘remembering’ brings your attention back to what you are actually doing. It keeps you grounded in the present experience – wherever you are directing your attention.
This is the case when engaged in sitting meditation or meditation in action. In meditation we are initially taught a method of mindfulness of the breath. That same mindfulness is then applied to mindfulness of the body, the feelings, the mind and the phenomena of mind. These are the famous Buddhist practices of the four foundations of mindfulness. Together meditation and mindfulness are the most valuable tools available to humanity. To assimilate them properly is a gift beyond measure.
Advanced classes: Buddhist meditation classes and retreats
Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes offer advanced classes to introduce more of the Buddhist philosophy. These classes give an explanation of the all-important path to enlightenment. The ultimate aim of meditation techniques is to bring enlightenment – a complete awakening to reality.
Spiritual insights that we develop along the way bring more focus, better concentration, a deep inner stillness and calm. Further, we overcome all manner of distractions, dullness and the obstacles to our own and others’ benefit. Thus the Enlightenment we aim for is a state of perfect benefit to oneself and others and hence the omega point of spiritual life.
Because of this a natural outflow of practice is a great sense of contentment, equanimity and compassion. This enables an effortless deep communication with those around us. The state of enlightenment is a consciousness both joyous and grounded. It is a calmness that is free of anger, fear, anxiety and all other taints of stress and suffering.
Meditation techniques from Tibetan Buddhism
The teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist collection of sutras and tantras give many techniques of meditation. In Tibetan Buddhist meditation classes we follow a structure for progressive development leading to full awakening, or enlightenment. In addition these Dharma teachings give clear explanations for developing the single-pointed concentration of samadhi. From there we can achieve the calm-abiding of samatha meditation. Calm abiding may be developed through mindfulness of the breath, or any of the four foundations in mindfulness. Our focus can also be further aimed at developing loving-kindness meditation or any other virtue. A combination of samatha and vispassna can be directed at mantra meditations, and visualisation meditations. Within the path to enlightenment there are meditations of many levels of complexity.
Analytical methods of meditation include various forms of contemplation. They provide a foundation leading into the tantric methods of energy absorption and mandala visualisations.
How we can learn the path of meditation gradually
The guru-disciple relationship of pure spiritual friendship is the means by which the circle of trainees are given appropriate instruction. They are gradually introduced to the methods most suited for their development. In the formal teaching environment, guided meditation from an experienced teacher can convey more than reading volumes of teachings.
The inspirational nature of these experiences provide the vitality and energy to persevere until enlightenment. When this is practised in harmony with a structured program of study the fascinating insights of the spiritual path will forever fill all aspects of life and give rise to the skills we need for success.
Melbourne Buddhist Meditation Classes advanced Buddhist classes are given each Tuesday evening from 8.00pm to 9.00pm and are for those students who have studied with Venerable Toby for some time.
Retreat days are scheduled regularly. Dates for retreats in 2017 are here.
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