Buddhist hails meditation as boost to lockdown mental health

Maitreyabandhu outside

Maitreyabandhu is the co-founder of Breathing Space which runs from London Buddhist Centre in Bethnal Green. - Credit: Richard Nicholson

A member of a Buddhist order has hailed meditation as a boost to mental health in the pandemic.

Maitreyabandhu co-founded the Breathing Space wellbeing project which is run from London Buddhist Centre in Roman Road, Bethnal Green. 

A member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, Maitreyabandhu, said: "People feel apprehensive about meditation, but you've got to work with your mind.

"It's not a religious thing. It's not about making your mind go blank. You don't need to be a spiritual person. It's about developing feelings of wellbeing, love and kindness."

The 59-year-old, who was ordained 30 years ago, added that we all need emotional resilience to deal with life's challenges, which is where meditation can fit in.

Tatiana Nye, a full time carer from the Isle of Dogs, has been practising meditation at the centre for seven years. The 52-year-old has been logging onto online sessions during the pandemic.

"It's a fantastic stress relief," Tatiana said.

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The former City worker explained how carers can't go out when they like because they have to be there for the people they look after 24/7.

But tuning into online meditation provides a much-needed break. The centre is currently closed because of lockdown.

"I would highly recommend it. It's a life-changer. Meditation is a very powerful tool," Tatiana said.

Satyavasin in the mindfulness room

Senior teacher, Satyavasin, in Breathing Space's mindfulness room. - Credit: London Buddhist Centre

Maitreyabandhu, on what people can do at home to ease lockdown stresses and strains, recommended thinking of place, body and mind.

Tidying up at home; doing jobs you keep putting off; exercising; a good night's sleep and being aware of your feelings can all help.

"It's about taking ownership of yourself. When you start to feel ratty or don't like your life at that moment - awareness is noticing that and thinking, 'I need to be careful now, I need to do something about it'.

"Meditation is about developing that kind of awareness," Maitreyabandhu said.

He explained that warning signs of deteriorating mental health can include no longer enjoying things you used to, lacking motivation or feeling irritable. 

"People need awareness and emotional strength. That's what meditation can give you," he added.

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