Buddhism encourages people to look the hard facts of life squarely in the eye, especially suffering and the truths of old age, sickness, and death. Many Triratna centres run meditation courses that help to reduce anxiety, alienation and stress, and encourage positivity and calm. Some also run courses aimed at specific mental health issues, such as recurrent depression, addiction, and bereavement. Mindfulness practice, in combination with elements taken from cognitive therapy, can be very helpful in preventing relapse. It can also support people in becoming aware of their pain, prepare them for what to expect, how to work with the grieving process, and to understand generally the nature of attachment.
These are short retreats in the countryside specifically for people who are the primary carers for family members or friends. They provide a valuable opportunity for carers to have a complete break from their caring responsibilities in the company of other carers. The retreats are very nourishing, combining instruction in meditation with tuition in massage, Alexander Technique and various therapies that help manage stress and tension. These are currently run
in the UK by the London, Brighton, Birmingham, and Manchester Buddhist Centres.
Mindfulness-based stress and pain management
Courses in Mindfulness-based stress and pain management teach a range of mindfulness-based techniques, such as relaxation, breath awareness and meditation. They can also provide training in life strategies such as goal setting and pacing, bringing awareness to daily activities. As led by members of the Triratna Buddhist Community, courses include meditations adapted from the Buddhist tradition, but they take an entirely secular approach. This makes them suitable for people of all creeds.
Breathing Space, in London, teaches Mindfulness Based Approaches that help prevent relapse into depression and addiction, and manage stress and anxiety.
In the UK, the Peace of Mind project, which originally ran pain management courses aimed at people with chronic pain
or illness, expanded to become Breathworks, a now international venture where the practical methods taught on courses are useful for anyone struggling with the stresses of modern life. Founder Vidyamala has had many years managing chronic back pain following a spinal injury.
Listen free to a body scan meditation by Vidyamala.