Last night I visited the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (UK) for the first time. The BKWSU (UK) teaches Raja Yoga Meditation as a way of experiencing peace of mind and a positive outlook, providing opportunities to all those who seek to explore their own spirituality.
The organisation was founded in 1936 by Dada Lekhraj, in Hyderabad (at the time part of colonial India now Pakistan). After experiencing intense spiritual visions of understanding Dada Lekhraj set up the organisation under its original name of Om Mandali. Om Mandali consisted of around 400 individuals, who lived together self-sufficiently and devoted their time to intense spiritual study, meditation and self-transformation.
Today the Brahma Kumaris has organisations in over 100 countries, with its headquarters based in Mount Abu, India. Brahma Kumaris became a recognised charity in the UK in 1975. There are currently over 40 local teaching centres across the UK, being funded solely by voluntary contributions. I attended the lecture Tackling Anxiety, held at the North London branch as part of the Thursday night lecture series. The Brahma Kumaris organisation was first brought to my attention by a friend and after checking out the website, I was impressed by the large variety of free events and sessions on offer. All activities are open to everyone, with no pre-booking required for most sessions. I have been considering joining a meditation group or attending a mindfulness course for a while now, but been put off by the costs and organisation involved. The convenience and flexibility of the University appealed to me, so with nothing to lose I dropped by to see what it’s all about.
On my walk there I was a bit nervous, somewhat apprehensive as to what I might find. Was I dressed appropriately? Should I have done more research on the organisation beforehand? What if people looked at me funny when I got there? Maybe I hadn’t given this enough thought! I texted a friend to let him know where I was headed just in case. Who knew what I was getting myself into, the ominous term cult lurked somewhere in the back of my mind. This little self-made melodrama was all quite apt considering I was attending a talk on anxiety.
When I entered Global Cooperation House I was relieved to find nothing of the sort, and quickly relaxed into the informal, friendly atmosphere. After enjoying the many delights of the bookshop I made my way to the lecture room. The audience itself was an impressive smorgasbord of people. I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence! A man in the front row sat wearing a kippah, there were Hindus, Muslims, others of no visible religion, older people, younger people, ladies and gents. This group couldn’t be put into any category if you tried.
The speaker was Nina Buchanan, the representative for Brahma Kumaris in Brixton. Nina is passionate about the empowerment of self and others and is an experienced workshop facilitator and coach. The talk itself was interesting and relevant, with the concept of anxiety being explored and coping mechanisms discussed. Nina talked about the importance of meditation and nurturing oneself with positive self-talk as tools to break the downward spiral of anxiety. Other spiritual tools to re-align oneself discussed included practicing the power of gratitude, deep breathing and using acceptance as a tool. The below affirmation in particular sticks in my mind.
Right here, right now, I am perfect as I am. And I continue to progress.
Another piece of advice I found useful was the idea of learning to check oneself ten times a day. To do this ask yourself: How do I feel right now? Try to do this throughout the day at least ten times. This has an awareness building effect and is a good habit to get into as a way of staying in the present moment and connecting with the self. By doing this, one is positioning oneself as a detached observer.
If the answer is I feel good, then thank yourself. Thank you I love you.
If the answer you receive is I am not really OK, then Stop, Observe and Stare (SOS). Say thank you to yourself for letting you know and use this as an opportunity to pause and do some deep breathing and grounding exercises. This can act as a buffer when we are unknowingly getting sucked down into a negative spiral of anxiety.
The talk ended with a powerful guided meditation and then it was time to go home. Needless to say I will definitely be returning soon, hopefully to do some meditation. I struggle to get into the meditation mood at home and hope the group sessions will provide a positive setting to do so.