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Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Centre opens in Mexico City

Sunday June 28th at 5pm Mexican time sees the opening of a new Buddhist Centre in Mexico City, with activities starting properly on 30/6.

Five Order Members (four women and a man) have teamed up to create the very beautiful 'Buda Mandala' space in the central and beautiful Coyoacán district of the city.

Their website ( says -

" Buda Mandala is a group formed by members of the Western Buddhist Order. It is dedicated to the teaching of Buddhism and meditation in an appropriate way for our Mexican contemporary surroundings.

"Our vision is one of a world where human beings can peacefully coexist in a network of contribution and protection that reaches to all living beings and the Earth, a network in which each honors its limitless potential of wisdom and unconditional love.

"Our mission is to make of our vision a reality, transmitting the lessons and practices of the Buddha-Dharma in an appropriate way to our context in Mexico, Latin America and the world, honoring the lessons of the Buddha and the vision of the founder of our Order, Urgyen Sangharakshita".

(Many thanks to the Babelfish website for this translation: it's remarkably beautiful and eloquent, considering that it was done by computer!)

The address is Francisco Ortega 27, Altos (in center of Coyoacán), tel (04455) 2510-4153. The FWBO's main centre in Mexico City continues: full details at


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

London Buddhist Centre Grand Reopening

The FWBO's London Buddhist Centre (LBC) held a grand public reopening on 8th and 9th May - after the biggest refurbishment in its 30-year history.

The newly enlarged centre includes a dedicated venue for its Breathing Space ‘Mindfulness for Health’ programme, plus a new bookshop/reception and improved facilities and disability access throughout.

At a private function on Friday 8 May, influential public health policy commentator Lord Layard opened a new venue for the Breathing Space programme, which teaches Mindfulness Based Approaches (MBAs) to help prevent relapse into depression and addiction, and to manage stress and anxiety.

On Saturday 9 May the LBC held an open day – with all events free and open to anyone. The day included meditation sessions and talks about Buddhism and wellbeing. There were also lots of great offers at local businesses in the surrounding ‘Buddhist Village’, including the Wild Cherry Vegetarian Restaurant, Friends Organic Health Food shop and Evolution gift shop. In the evening there was a celebration, with presentations, live music, and refreshments.

The core course at Breathing Space is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Drawing on CBT, it uses mindfulness meditation to help challenge negative thinking that can lead to depression. MBCT is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and has been shown in clinical trials to be more effective than antidepressants in preventing repeated relapse into depression.

Lord Layard, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics and a high-profile commentator on mental health policy, said: “Depression and anxiety are the biggest causes of misery in Britain today, with one in three families affected. As a society we need to act now. There is strong evidence that both CBT and MBCT are effective in preventing relapse. That’s why I warmly welcome this new venue for Breathing Space at the LBC to provide MBCT.” Lord Layard is well known for advocating a new ‘science of happiness’, which embraces philosophy, economics, and psychology. In his best-selling 2005 book ‘Happiness – Lessons from a New Science’ he cites meditation as one of a number of tools we can use to develop happiness from within.

Since its inception in 2004 Breathing Space has helped more than 600 people, through 20 MBA courses and 20 two-day retreats teaching local carers mindfulness-based tools for managing stress and anxiety. It is funded by Tower Hamlets Social Services to provide free places on MBCT courses for people living in Tower Hamlets on a low income, and has contracts with Tower Hamlets and other London Boroughs to provide retreats and drop-in sessions for carers. For more information about Breathing Space and Mindfulness Based Approaches (MBTs) go to

There is a fast-growing body of medical research to show the beneficial effects of meditation on mental health. Studies have shown that it can have positive effect on regions of the brain related to emotional processing and on the nervous system and neurochemicals released in the brain. Breathing Space has produced a summary of some of these recent findings - see .

The photographs show the new entrance to the LBC and Paramabandhu (the outgoing chairman) meeting Lord Layard during the opening.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

LBC celebrates as building work ends

The FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre (LBC) has had the biggest refurbishment in its history – and they’re celebrating.

The newly enlarged centre includes Breathing Space, a new health and wellbeing venue, plus a completely rebuilt bookshop/reception area; with improved facilities and disability access throughout.

Week-long celebrations are planned for May, to include a ritual blessing of the new spaces, open days for both Breathing Space and the LBC, an opening party, and a grand re-opening of the LBC itself. There’s even a VIP - Lord Layard – coming to open Breathing Space. Lord Layard is the UK Government's "happiness" tsar and author of the influential ‘Depression Report’ which advocated a substantial increase in non-chemical treatment for people suffering from stress or depression.

They say “If you feel a connection with the LBC come and have a look round on our Open Day or join us to celebrate Wesak!”

The public programme is currently –

Open Days: LBC and Breathing Space
Free meditation classes, talks on Buddhism. Free introduction to our Mindful Based Approaches (MBSs) to depressions, anxiety and addiction. A chance to introduce friends and family to the atmosphere and the activities of the LBC & Breathing Space. Sat 9 May. 11-5pm. Free of charge.

Celebratory Evening.
An evening to celebrate and rejoice in the people who have made the building project happen; a chance to enjoy the spacious new Centre. With live music and food. Sat 9 May. 7.15pm

Wesak Festival Day
A celebration and exploration of the most significant event in Buddhism: the day the Buddha attained supreme Enlightenment. With meditation, talks and ritual. Subhuti will be giving a Dharma talk as a part of the celebrations, with the title: Meeting the Buddha. Sun 10 May. From 10am. Dana/Donation. Led by Paramabandhu and Maitrivajri.

Grand Opening Party.
Rejoicing in all those who have helped create the new centre with music and film. Mon 11 May. 7.15pm

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Friday, May 30, 2008

London Buddhist Centre begins major building work

builders go to work on the LBCThe FWBO's London Buddhist Centre this week moved into top gear as the largest building project in its history really got underway. Over the next 8 months over UK £1,5 million will be spend transforming every floor of the building (all 6 of them!) into facilities worthy of the 21st century and the next 100 years.

Planning and preliminary works have been going on for well over a year and already ‘Phase 0’ has been completed – a major project in its own right. This entailed moving the offices out of the basement and up into ‘Bhante’s Flat’, which had lain empty for several years. Sangharakshita’s old bedroom, which he used for most of the 1990’s while living at the LBC, has been transformed into the ‘Sangharakshita Study Room’ and is now a self-contained space available for study or hire. The rest of his old flat has become beautiful new light and airy offices for the LBC team – a welcome new home after many years in the relative darkness of the basement.

carvers in India create the LBC's new fountainWork on the project is multi-facetted – as the builders smash up the old concrete flooring in the LBC basement, Aloka, in Norfolk, is working on a large new painting which will be the shrine backdrop in the new meditation room. And in far-away India, carvers are shaping a stone fountain that will bring a touch of natural beauty into the basement waiting area. This is scheduled to be shipped in July and installed in time for their opening in mid-September.

The biggest challenge of the project is to convert the basement into the new ‘Breathing Space’, the LBC’s flourishing programme for health and wellbeing.

Aloka shows off work so far on his new painting for the LBC's basementAn indication of the success of the Breathing Space project – even before its new premises are ready – is their waiting list, currently standing at 65 for their next MBCT course. They are looking at ways to offer more courses in response to the demand. As well as MBCT, Breathing Space will offer programs for carers – ‘Caring for the Carers’; also Relapse Prevention; Meditation for Depression, Meditation for Addiction, and Bereavement courses – plus training in all the above for future trainers and counsellors. Breathing Space looks set to add a valuable and much–appreciated dimension to the LBC’s work.

You can read recent articles about the Breathing Space project here - in The Times about addiction courses; in the Guardian about carers retreats, and a short BBC film about the LBC's work with people suffering from depression.

Finally there is a more general interview with Futurebuilders England, a UK government investment agency which has provided some of the funding of the project.

FWBO News wishes the LBC well on what is likely to prove a busy and demanding time - and looks forward eagerly to seeing the new facilities!

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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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Monday, August 20, 2007

Mindfulness for everything?

Click here to read Vishvapani’s survey of the growing field of mindfulness-based therapies and the place of the FWBO therein.

He sets the scene by saying “The faculty of mindfulness—broadly defined as non-judgmental present-moment awareness—has always been a key element of the Buddhist path; and in recent years psychologists and healthcare professionals have been recognizing its value for people experiencing conditions ranging from stress and depression to addiction, chronic pain and ill health. A natural crossover exists between this growing medical interest in mindfulness and the skills that FWBO meditators and teachers have developed in their years of practice.”

And he asks – “So how are people from the FWBO engaging with MBTs, and what issues are emerging as they do so?”

A fascinating and inspiring read – one of the many facets of the great adventure that is the Dharma coming to the West.

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