Mindfulness meditation, which has come to be known as “mindfulness” and includes such techniques as visualising yourself in stillness and releasing your thoughts, is increasingly recognised as a mental health technique that can help combat anxiety, depression and stress.
Soumitra Dutta, whose Freedom Centre in Bangkok is the world’s largest meditation retreat, this week hosts some of the world’s best teachers, with classes for both beginners and those who have led rigorous “daily life practice” – having a life but not giving in to it. Dutta describes himself as a Buddhist monk.
Dutta says, “People view meditation as a religious thing, which often isn’t true. For some reason, Buddhism says you should meditate every day, but I would never recommend that for my other Buddhist colleagues because for us we believe that for life to be meaningful you have to have experiences all the time.”
Dutta began meditating because he had become angry after reading an article about the spiritual practice of Grishin meditation. He learned to meditate regularly and eventually became proficient. His teaching style is based on his expertise in teaching hundreds of meditation students from all over the world.
In the class, people practising daily life practice will have a teacher, while those starting out from a meditation practice will have only the right to meditate. “At the beginning meditation is like sailing a boat. It’s really not the most interesting, and it’s a little disconcerting. It’s the method I use when I teach beginners,” he says.
“For people who are starting out, I like to do what the Buddha did, which is to take them through the depths of the ocean. Start at the bottom and look up and sometimes look at the ocean. “So I tell people if you have a view of a river or mountains you can never see the surface, but they can always see the ocean or mountains. And, within a minute or two, you can also see the land.”