Seclusion of the mind

I spent two short days at Chithurst Forest Monastery last week, in southern England. Chithurst is named for the town it’s in, but its Pali name is Cittaviveka, which means seclusion of the mind. In other words, not being distracted by various things, even in the midst of them. 

The monastery is also secluded physically, and is a quiet place in the midst of forests and fields. The buildings are mostly old cottages that originally were in terrible shape. When the monastery started, there were open areas in the roof, and the walls were in equal disrepair. Now you’d never guess, and the hard work of many monastics and lay supporters is very obvious. The grounds are beautiful. Chithurst has a cloister as well, with a garden in the middle and stone walls all around. The meditation hall has a palpable peaceful energy, with post and beam construction, tile floor, and a centered altar that focuses visual attention there. The adjacent forest; Hammer Wood, is peaceful and quiet. A great place to walk through or just stop and sit.

I found myself wishing I had planned more time there, but with monasteries, traveling by the seat of one’s pants doesn’t work very well. Gricel and I just barely got in to stay for the time we did, as the guest spaces fill up fast. I’m glad we were able to visit though. Perhaps the time will come when another visit transpires.

After we left Chithurst, the next day I headed north stopping briefly at Newcastle on Tyne. I spent the evening walking around the castle and the quay (riverside), which was lovely. The next day I headed to Harnham Monastery, but that’s another entry. I’m behind in posting, so I’ll add some pics of Newcastle here as well.

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

2 thoughts on “Seclusion of the mind”

  1. I look at the lovely photos of Chithurst Forest Monastery and I can easily imagine monks and/or nuns from long ago still walking along the corridors. So much history! And old, old trees to hug too. What fun and how very peaceful.


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