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14 March 2024

A Steady Transformation: The impact of Meditation on my Life

Ellie Turner

Feeling peaceful through breathing meditation

Back in 2000, a friend of mine spotted a leaflet for a meditation course called ‘Eight Steps to Happiness’. She invited me to come along with her to the class and I said yes. I had never been to a meditation class and knew nothing about it. When we arrived, the room was filled with a mix of people. We sat down and the teacher started with an explanation about meditation and its benefits. That first breathing meditation had me hooked. For the first time in my life, my mind felt peaceful. I wish I could say every meditation was as successful as that first one, but they aren’t, unfortunately. Like any practice, there are good and not-so-good days. But here I am, many years later still practising and going to classes.

What I enjoy about meditation classes

I have moved around a bit and gone to a variety of classes in different places across the UK. Every meditation class is similar. They start and end with a meditation with a talk, based on Buddha’s teachings, in the middle. There is often the option of staying for a cuppa with the rest of the class. It is a lovely way to meet people who also have an interest in meditation and Buddhist teachings. The teachings are wide-ranging: from how to reduce our anger and jealousy to increasing our minds of love and compassion.

The girl blows the fluff off a dandelion. Travel outside the city alone.

Seeing the change in myself

The first class I went to had a copy of The New Eight Steps to Happiness available to buy.  Reading that book had such a profound effect on me.  There was another way to be that didn’t involve stress and anger.  Yes, it takes practice, but it has genuinely transformed my life for the better. I am a lot less angry and stressed than I was when I first started meditating.  Life is not easy for anyone and we are not always taught in schools or by family how to deal with the mental and emotional suffering life can bring us.  There are a lot of Buddhist teachings and they have helped me deal with the sufferings of life.  A few years ago I was asked to teach a class.  The opportunity to pass on the teachings to others is something I welcome as I know they are incredibly helpful for many.

Meditation classes online help me face life’s challenges

Recently life has been challenging for me. I am rarely able to leave the house due to chronic illness. Luckily though, I had already joined my local Kadampa Meditation Centre here in Birmingham. As a result I can continue attending meditation classes remotely online. Whilst I miss going to the centre in person every week, I find the online classes invaluable in keeping me connected with the community and the teachings. Occasionally I am still able to attend or teach a class in person and for that I am grateful. My husband now enjoys coming along to the classes with me as my carer even though he is not Buddhist. He finds the meditations calming and the teachings thought-provoking.


Enjoying new experiences and making life-long friends

Some of the other Kadampa Centres around the UK are based in beautiful older buildings in the countryside where there is the option to stay for longer meditation retreats and live within the community. In all of these centres, there is the opportunity to volunteer to help in the kitchens, gardens or world peace cafes. Over the years I have volunteered in a few Kadampa centres and lived in one for about 8 years. When I first stepped into the meditation class I would never have thought I would do that; many friends I still know from the original classes have never chosen to go to other centres, volunteer or attend the larger festivals they host. It is up to each individual how much they choose to go to classes and get involved. Personally, I am glad I have had those experiences and look forward to being able to volunteer again in the future when I am well enough to do so. The classes, the volunteering and the teaching have all helped me improve my capacity to deal with the sufferings of life more constructively, whilst enjoying new experiences and making some life-long friends along the way.

Ellie Turner

Share Your Dharma Journey

If you have a personal story about the positive impact of Dharma in your life and would like to share it with the community, please feel free to reach out to us. You can submit your story by emailing it to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your inspiring journey with others.