We have a wonderful, thought provoking piece of writing by Open Age member Joan O’Connell who would like to share the following text that she wrote about meditation – presented at Open Age exhibition Let’s Fly Away! as part of London Creativity and Wellbeing Week in June 2014 at the Second Half Centre:


An old habit of mine took the form of sitting on the stairs looking out from a long narrow window in my home, growing up in Ireland. There was a beautiful view of the high white waves beating against a sandy beach.

Then I moved to the city of Dublin and replaced the window by sitting in front of a real turf fire. How hypnotic it is to gaze into the flames. I could escape from all my worries. What I used to think about for hours on end God Only Knows. Some people would call this day dreaming. Others would say “You are away with the fairies”.

I find train journeys can have the same effect on me, especially when travelling on my own. One sits there and wonders how one will pass the few hours before arrival time. Travelling alone can be monotonous because, for three or four hours, you have to sit there and entertain yourself instead of depending on T.V. or radio. In today’s world life is filled with so much stimuli that people are actually afraid to be alone. To have one’s own company for hours on end terrifies people. The last person we want to be with is ourselves and how little we know of ourselves because of this. It is a way of life now to have as much noise and distraction as possible.

This leads me to meditation. More and more people are realising the need to meditate. Some people think it is only for nuns and monks. But, with the pressures and demands of life today, a lot of people are returning to it as a way of life. It is, actually, a heritage passed down from one generation to another, East to West. Some people think you are loony to sit there for an hour with your eyes closed in perfect silence. For a long time I did not know what it was all about. I thought when I was sitting in front of the fire gazing into the flames or looking out of the narrow window I was meditating. But I found out I was completely wrong.

Meditation, as one lady said to me recently, is like going on a mental diet, refusing to let your mind wander. Disciplining your mind, not letting it travel far and wide from one image to another.

Try it even for five minutes, it is very difficult. We start thinking about what we will cook for the children’s tea, reminding ourselves to bring the clothes in off the line when we get home. Our mind is totally out of control. It is like a naughty child who keeps doing something you have forbidden it to do.

What is the purpose of all this I hear you ask. Well, that is not for me to say. If you are interested try it for yourself and see.

I find since I started meditation I have become more relaxed, more at ease with myself and in the company of others. I do not feel pressure to perform or entertain.

The pressures of society seem to drift over my head and I have become more happy with my lot. In an aggressive situation I have become a lot more objective. I can act rather than react. I am not living on my emotions.

I am not saying that this will happen overnight. A lot of discipline and practice is needed. One needs to persevere. Like any physical exercise time and practice will show results. Deciding to make it a way of life rather than a craze or a whim for a month or two is important.

There are many different types of meditation and meditation centres out there. For example, Transcendental meditation, the Christian method of John Maine. OSB, Yoga. Guided Visualisation.

Many people are helped by meditating in a group. Such groups meet twice a week. You can meditate on your own at home, if you have the will power. Some meditation groups use a mantra. Others play some classical music or sit in silence. It varies. Breathing is an important part of relaxation. Listening to the sound of your own breathing, merge and become one with it. It is very important not to become drowsy but to concentrate and at the same time be relaxed and calm.

If you decide to take it up I wish you the peace I have got from it. Good Luck.

A warning the subconscious has lots of past events hidden away some pleasant some not so pleasant. Meditation can bring these thoughts to the surface. Be prepared and if this happens be sure to seek professional advice from a councillor.

Some centres I have attended over the years and would recommend are,

The Theosophical Society. 50 Gloucester Pl. London W1U 8EA.

If you prefer a non religious meditation. This is a good one and they provide learning session.

The Buddhist Society. 58 Eccleston Sq. London SW1V.IPH.

For Christian meditation.

The Hinsley Room 6.30 p.m Monday eve back of Westminster Cathedral. Victoria. London SW1.

© Joan O’Connell