It’s been just over a year since the Norwich Buddhist Centre began working in the Great Yarmouth area and now this new and exciting outreach project is really beginning to feel established. The group, which has people coming from all over the borough of Great Yarmouth and from Lowestoft, meets in the beautiful old Quaker Meeting House, a site which was a cell of the Augustan Priory of Gorleston in the 14th century and was first used by the Quakers in the 17th century. It has a wonderful, airy and peaceful atmosphere, so is a lovely place to meet as well as being right in the centre of Yarmouth.
An initial Introduction to Meditation taster session led by Saroja and Sinhadakini was held in April 2012 and was followed by a six-week Introduction to Meditation course. A dozen or so people signed up for the course and five or six of them were very keen to continue meeting to meditate once the course had finished. In response, Saroja has run meditation drop-in sessions throughout the year as well as further introductory courses on both Meditation and Buddhism. He is currently leading us through a Day-to-Day Buddhism course, a series of 6 talks with meditation and discussion. Speakers include not only Saroja and me, but Satyagita, Nandajaya and Viryashalin. The topics for these talks include Meditation, Impermanence, Friendship and Truthful Communication. Sinhadakini also remains very committed to the development of the Great Yarmouth outreach work and continues to support sessions when she is able to.
To publicise the courses and promote Buddhism in Great Yarmouth, in April/May this year we had a market stall on Great Yarmouth market, once on a Wednesday and once on a Saturday. Both days were a fantastic opportunities to talk to local residents and answer their questions, raise awareness and of course to raise some funds – not only that but the sun shone too! We sold books, clothes, jewellery, plant cuttings, anything really that had been donated and made just over £140 which will go towards getting our own mats. We had lots of support on the market stall from regular meditators and from the Norwich Sangha too: thanks to Jaimie who donated cards and framed pictures for us to sell, Ruth Taylor, Andrew Walters, Rijusiddha, Shraddhadhi (and Jala) all lent a hand, making the whole enterprise a real pleasure. Many thanks also to Erika Chalkley for support and of course to everyone who came along. We’re hoping to have the market stall again, so I’ll make sure we let everyone know!
I have been involved in the development of the work taking place here since it started, (I’m a local resident) and I feel enormously fortunate and privileged to be part of what truly feels like a Sangha in the making. Saroja’s commitment to making this happen is really inspiring! There is a definite sense of commitment to the sessions from everyone, we’re never short of helping hands to set up, clear up and take part in fundraising or discussion. Friendships are growing, new people are made to feel really welcome by everyone and it feels incredibly positive.