Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out…. Yes, it’s that time of the semester again. Come May, we students find ourselves plunged into a season of countless all-nighters and cramming sessions. Even if you’re one of the good ones, who either: (A) pretends no work or revision has been done, when in fact, you could have co-edited your module-prescribed textbook by now or (B), you unapologetically rub your revision into the faces of your peers, this time of year is surely no walk in the park. We all feel a little bit shaky when it comes to deadlines and exams. Luckily for us, there’s LUU Buddhist Meditation Society.
BMS is for anyone who wants to be ‘happier and less stressed’. Mabel Richards (a committee member) explains that while BMS is unable to guarantee that meditation and mindfulness exercises will achieve those aims, for many, it’s a very good place to start. The path to ridding ourselves of unwanted stress begins on a Wednesday afternoon from 5-7 p.m. in room 4 upstairs in the union.
Around 50 people will turn up to a usual Buddhist Meditation Society Meeting. The attendees will usually engage in meditation focusing on breathing. However, meditation that refines the capacity to feel compassion, walking meditation, and hugging meditation are also on offer. (Free hugs! For me that’s a clincher). The meeting also stops for a refreshments break, Buddhist Meditation style. At this point, participants can grab some steaming hot herbal tea. It’s an opportunity for participants to sip a calming brew whilst getting to know their fellow meditators a little better. ‘Dhamma sharing’, or discussing practice, is also integral to the weekly meetings. The highlight of the BMS calendar is their annual curry night. The society gathers at someone’s house for a celebrated evening of mindful veggie/vegan curry eating. At BMS, you won’t just gobble down the chana masala- you’ll smell, hear and feel it too.
The meetings aren’t the only aspects of the society that align with Buddhism. Its whole structure adheres to Buddhist values. Firstly, the committee is ‘flat’. There is no hierarchy of positions. This allows everyone to have the chance to take responsibility for all sorts of projects. Secondly, BMS doesn’t require anyone to pay any amount for membership. Rather, ‘dana’ fees are encouraged. This means that people may give a charitable donation, but sessions are, on principle, free for members and non-members alike. Having said that, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to be an eager regular at BMS. Even some of the committee don’t identify as Buddhist, so don’t let that scare you off. You don’t even have to be a seasoned meditator to go. Experts and novices are both warmly invited.
To suppress our stress until it explodes in an unhealthy splatter of all-nighters, seeking nutrition in numerous instant coffees and giant bags of salt and vinegar chips from Sainsbury’s is so not healthy. There is a far better way to try and relieve our stress, and it is right here on campus. I don’t know about you, but this time round, I might take a break from my usual habits. See you Wednesday evening?