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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dharma Marathons on April 13th

In just two week's time, Tim Segaller and Simon Okotie from the London Buddhist Centre will be running the London Marathon to raise funds for the LBC’s Breathing Space project and for the mental health charity Mind.

“I decided a couple of years ago while I was on solitary retreat that I wanted to run a marathon before I was 40.” Simon (who is treasurer of the LBC) said. “I didn’t realise quite what a commitment it is!” This year is the ideal opportunity with all the fundraising going on at the LBC. “As well as creating Breathing Space – a health and well-being centre in the basement of the LBC – the building project will make the centre accessible for people in wheelchairs, provide an expanded reception room / bookshop and kitchenettes, make the community on the top three floors of the building habitable again, provide central heating to both communities above the Centre for the first time, provide a new office for the LBC team…the list goes on.” In short, it will transform the LBC, hopefully in time for its 30th anniversary at the end of 2008.

“I feel particularly inspired by the Breathing Space project,” says Tim. “This project is already making a real difference to people’s lives, whether they are carers in the local area of East London, which is one of the poorest in the country, people who have suffered from depression or those coping with chronic pain. The new space will allow us to do so much more.”

Please support Tim and Simon
You can sponsor them securely and speedily on-line at There will be a prize draw for all sponsors and you could win tickets to a premiere at the Royal Opera House, tickets to the forthcoming Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum (kindly donated by Padmadhara), an organic food hamper and other prizes! Please also cheer them along on the day, 13 April, if you can. Check out Simon’s marathon blog in the coming weeks for fundraising and training updates and for news about the race.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Carer's Retreat at Aryaloka, USA

Anastra Madden, from the FWBO’s Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center in New Hampshire, USA, has sent FWBO News this report of their recent ‘Caregivers’ Retreat’. There are a number of similar FWBO projects in the UK, some details follow after the Aryaloka report. This is clearly an area where Buddhist meditation techniques - and friendliness - can provide great benefit to many people.

“Members of the Aryaloka community, in collaboration with Seacoast Hospice staff and other healing practitioners from New Hampshire, recently provided a weekend retreat for family and professional caregivers. These individuals were in need of respite from their ongoing work of providing care for individuals living with chronic, life-threatening, or life-limiting illness.

“Aryaloka’s comfortable residential setting surrounded by the quiet of 13 wooded acres provided ideal conditions for the caregivers to be cared for by staff and retreat leaders. Nutritious vegetarian meals plus a "High Tea" topped off the educational/experiential activities that were facilitated by the retreat team and ten volunteer massage, reiki, and yoga practitioners. The weekend was threaded with meditation for relaxation; massage and reiki bodywork; restorative body movement; group processing through art, music, and journaling; exploring the importance of humor; and sharing personal stories with other caregivers. Participants were also given personal binders containing "take home" skills and strategies for self-care and stress management.

“In the short space between Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, the transformation in each participant was breathtaking. They became animated and vibrant, as if new life were poured into them. The feeling throughout the weekend was one of openness and joy, with multiple expressions of kindness, and laughter - much laughter ! As one participant expressed it , "This weekend has been phenomenal...the only word I can think of is seamless...." Participant evaluations confirmed that our goals for the retreat were fulfilled far beyond our original expectations. Also, an unexpected benefit also emerged : the atmosphere of total, unconditional care created for the participants spread back to the team, and facilitators also became participants!”

Sadhu, Aryaloka!

In the UK, several centres have been running weekends and other events for carers for some years. The Brighton Buddhist Centre runs the ‘Carer’s Breaks’ project; the London Buddhist Centre are converting their basement to house their major ‘Breathing Space’ project; which will host events for carers, plus mediation for depression, addiction, and stress. Manchester is home to the FWBO’s popular and successful pain management programme ‘Breathworks’, and earlier this month the UK’s Guardian newspaper ran an article exploring the LBC’s retreats for carers – click here to read it.

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