Home   →   Blogs   →   

04 March 2024

How I found meaning in my life

Mandy de Belin

Struggling to make sense of the world

Even before the pandemic arrived, I had been struggling. Bereavements had been coming thick and fast for the past several years. I had lost parents, pets, and a dear friend to cancer much too early. Add to this a difficult situation in my home village exposing cracks in my marriage, and I was most definitely seeking to make some more sense of the world. There was nothing exceptional or unusual in my ‘hardships’, compared to many people; I have lived a life of extraordinary privilege. Listening to the ‘World Service’ on the radio everyday made my dissatisfaction and difficulties seem very trivial compared with what was going on in the rest of the world at this time. But they were dissatisfactions and difficulties, nonetheless.

Seeking more meaning in my life

I first came upon the Dharma, Buddha’s teachings, in the winter of 2019. One Sunday afternoon I was idly browsing Facebook, and Nagarjuna Kadampa Meditation Centre popped up in my feed. I must admit it was the gorgeous location, Thornby Hall, that attracted me at first, but I was at a stage in my life when I was seeking some more meaning. I attended an ‘Introduction to Meditation’ class and then an ‘Introduction to Buddhism’ course before Covid happened and we all went into lockdown. This had been enough to get me keen to sign up when all the teachings went online. I joined meditation classes whenever they were available, plus some lunchtime meditations, and so I was listening to teachings just about every day.

The power of positivity

Dharma began to work for me on several levels. Buddhist meditation classes teach you good basic cognitive psychology. You cannot control life, but you can control how you feel about it. I was also attracted to the teachings on compassion, and especially the fact that it was to be extended to all living beings (animal friends in the form of dogs, cats, and horses were an important part of my life). Some of the beliefs were pushing at an open door – I’d always somehow inherently believed in rebirth and in karma, and had long espoused ‘the middle way’ even though I didn’t know what it was. Other teachings I initially found harder to take on board, the hell realms for one thing, but also trying to grasp the real meaning of emptiness. Being a cynical westerner, I was initially suspicious of the veneration of a small Tibetan man and aware of the danger of ‘cults’. As time went by, I became more and more comfortable to the extent that I now unreservedly love the things that I used to think were
a bit ‘weird’ (the statues, the offerings, some of the imagery in the prayer booklets). I am not ashamed to admit that I cried when I learned of Geshe-la’s death.


Enjoying the journey

The introductory teaching to a recent UK Dharma Celebration, held at Nagarjuna KMC, particularly resonated with me. Our Buddhist faith was likened to a staircase. We might all be on different steps, and the next ‘landing’ might seem a long way away, but we are all making progress. When I look back a year or so I realise things that seemed incomprehensible at one time I seem to understand now. The blessings are having their effect! I also realise that I still have a long way to go, but I am loving the journey (I am
enrolled on Foundation Programme to study in more depth, have attended my first International Kadampa Summer Festival, and have received Highest Yoga Tantra Empowerment).


The benefits of Buddhist meditation

Unlike some people, I did not rock up at a class with the view that meditation was the new ‘wonder drug’ I’d been reading about in the media that would solve all my problems. I was always mainly motivated by wanting to learn about Buddhism. Of course, I soon learned the benefit of training in meditation in order to quieten the mind and came to accept it as an integral part of the path I am now following.

As far as tangible benefits go, there are many. I am calmer, happier, much more able to accept the
vicissitudes of life. This has been remarked upon by my friends and my family. I love feeling part of a
wider community and have made good friends among my sangha - the community of practitioners. I am enjoying being able to contribute what skills I have. There are still challenges; like everyone, I meet people and situations who challenge my beliefs both directly and indirectly, but I am usually able to view this as an opportunity to practise what I have learned..

Mandy de Belin

Mandy attends Nagarjuna Kadampa Meditation Centre
Find a Kadampa Center near you.

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.