Articles

Just Trying to be Normal

Sunna means ‘empty’ in Pali – the language of early Buddhism – and if it wasn’t for the sign at the top of the drive, one could have been forgiven for thinking that the aptly named ‘Sunnataram Forest Monastery’ was nothing but an empty field on the edge of a wooded hillside about an hour …

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The Newcastle Meditation Centre

Between 2016–2020, the Newcastle Meditation Centre, at the bottom of Westgate Road in Newcastle city centre, provided a safe, welcoming and ideologically neutral space, wholly dedicated to the learning and practice of mindfulness and meditation.  It was the first independent high street meditation centre in the UK, and it existed to make the benefits of …

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Learning to Meditate

It is often said that we live in a society in which everyone is ‘searching for something’. More specifically, they are searching, we are to infer, for some kind of ‘spiritual’ fulfilment. Sometimes my naturally sceptical disposition makes me think this is just one of those lazy platitudes we have all taken for granted, like …

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Meditation in the Christian Tradition

Meditation is almost always assumed to be an Eastern spiritual discipline and many people, including practising Christians, are often surprised to discover that there is, in fact, a well-established tradition of contemplative spirituality within Christianity. That said, we should not simply assume that practices fulfilling a similar role within two different traditions are necessarily analogous …

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Why Tantalus?

Corny as it may sound, I have always wanted to be a writer. As a teenager I dreamt of writing a great work of philosophy, the definitive once and for all answer to the big questions about the meaning of life. Needless to say I didn’t get very far. In my late teens and early …

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An Interview

What does it mean to seek God?  To seek God is to seek authenticity. It is to strive to become who and what we really are. Christians believe that humankind is made ‘in the image and likeness of God’. This suggests that something about the deepest reality of what we are is in some way …

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woman, burnout, multitasking

The Rise of Mindfulness

During the course of the first two decades of the new millennium, one particular brand of self-development – namely mindfulness, which is derived from Buddhist meditation teachings – achieved unprecedented levels of mainstream popularity. The story of how this came about is bound up with the wider story of the transmission of Buddhism to the …

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A Month of Sundays

A version of the following article was published in The Tablet, 3rd December, 2005. “The first forty-eight hours are the worst,” Said one of the monks at Worth when I told him I was going to spend a month with the Carthusians, “But if you can get through that you’ll be fine!” Helpful advice, no …

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