A GROUP of our Year 12 Religious Studies students visited the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, near Hemel Hempstead.

Head of Religious Studies at King’s Ely Senior, Gill Smith, said: “The grounds and especially the temple were profoundly peaceful. We were invited to join a two hour meditation session where we were given very clear instructions on both the Samatha and Vipassana meditation methods by one of the resident bhikkhus (monks) who turned out to be a very gentle and skillful guide.

“The Samatha meditation consisted of sitting whilst concentrating our minds on our breathing, while the monk taught us on the benefits of meditation and how it allows the ‘holiday of the heart’. After one hour of Samatha meditation, we felt peaceful and relaxed ready for our Vipassana meditation. This was a walking meditation aimed at developing mindfulness which we did in the beautiful and well-kept gardens which surrounded the temple. We then continued our meditation practice around the monastery stupa (a Buddhist reliquary mound) which helped to focus our attention.

“Our visit was a unique experience and a fascinating insight into the monastic life of Theravāda Buddhism.”

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