6 Jun 2023

By Kasia Stepien

Monastic Tour 2023 – Week Three: Durham

On Monday May 22nd the Monastic tour arrived in Durham – a city steeped in spiritual significance with a 1000 year old monastic heritage and the iconic Cathedral.

The day started  with a visit to 475 school children who heard about the wonders of being fully present, delighted in the wonders of the simple raisin and had their questions about God, brown robes and head shaving answered!

Under stunning blue skies and with the wonder of late Spring all around, the monastics led a group of 70 on a mindful walk along the riverbanks finishing with songs and a picnic lunch in the Cathedral cloisters. So many moments of stillness, peace and connectedness to nature and each other.

The afternoon saw 35 practitioners Sanghas from across the region come together to practice with the monastics. Sister Samadhi shared beautiful wisdom on the 6 harmonies and the power of Sangha and community. 

 The chaplaincy at Durham University hosted an evening talk “Finding Stillness in the Storms” where an audience of 80 were inspired by the personal and touching examples of the monastics to take care of strong emotions, practice froglessness(!) and the importance of community

One of the participants shared this lovely testimonial:

‘As soon as i got to the hall at St Oswalds, the atmosphere was warm and friendly and i could feel myself settle. A little surprised and just a bit of a “oh no” feel when we were handed the lyrics sheet, not being a regular singer! However,  the songs were so lovely and melodic that you just couldn’t help but be touched emotionally and yeah, I even joined in! I think there were about 60 or 70 people at the 2pm session. All of the talks were enjoyable, we got insight from the sisters and brother’s descriptions of their spiritual journeys and challenges, naturally well led practices, and the sound of the bell was integral. The chi gung(i think?) moves were just right to invigorate and rebalance too. The questions and answers were very helpful for me. Each question was something i could relate to, and each response was respectful and full of love and wisdom. We can all feel that our practice can be better, but l loved the acknowledgement of human longing and craving within the quoted Vietnamese saying “standing on the mountain ( i notice that) i am  wanting to stand on another mountain.” Quite! The singing duo were brilliant in the last song too, “Peace” was the word that we sang, and I felt it all the way through the session. Thank you all so much!  Would be brill to see you all again’

The Durham event was a collaboration between Northern Lotus (Newcastle) and Sacred Earth (Durham) Sanghas