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  • Writer's pictureHoward Widdison

Why I Became a Buddhist: A Humorous Journey of Meditation and Mindfulness


Howard Widdison

A Not-So-Graceful Beginning


It all began on a rainy Wednesday afternoon on my commute home from London to Eastbourne. As I sat at my laptop to stop me from interacting with my fellow passengers, my mind raced with the never-ending to-do lists and the anxiety-inducing emails awaiting my attention and the thought that life surely can't all be about the rat race, In an effort to distract myself I found myself doom scrolling through Facebook. I spotted a post "Buddhist Meditation in Eastbourne 7:00 pm Tonight!" The promise of inner peace seemed too good to pass up and I decided to head straight to the address on the advert from the train. Little did I know that this impulsive decision would change the course of my life forever.


The Quest for Peace when suffering


Walking into the room for the first time was like being greeted by a group of dear friends. An order member, Satyamati (who I now consider a dear friend) greeted me with a smile that seemed to radiate love, peace and tranquillity. I awkwardly fumbled through my first evening of meditation by closing my eyes and promptly dozing off, I realized that finding inner peace was going to be a lot harder than I had anticipated, but that warm welcome, a friendliness that I had not experienced before made me decide to keep going back, despite not understanding a lot of what was being said as part of the ritual, and the awkwardness that I initially felt.


The Teachings of the Buddha


Through hours of reading, self reflection, listening to the ancient wisdom of the Dharma, struggling to master the art of mindful breathing, and attempting to quiet the noisy chatter in my mind, over the last few years I have slowly started to unravel some of the mysteries of Buddhism. The idea of impermanence and the concept of non-attachment hit home when I accidentally sat on my favourite pair of glasses in a moment of absent-mindedness, they shattered.... and I felt myself respond in a different way... instead of the habitual frustration and a cacophony of expletives. When I say "some of the mysteries", what I really mean is I have learned hardly anything yet. The topic of Buddhism is vast, and quite possibly unfathomable if you approach it from the mind... approach it from the heart however and you start to experience snippets of insight that life can be lived and experienced through a different lens.


The Path to Enlightenment


Now, you might be wondering, why would a perpetually caffeinated, slightly scatterbrained individual like myself choose the path of a Buddhist? The answer is simple – amidst the chaos of modern life, the teachings of Buddha as relayed by Sangharakshita, the man that started the Triratna Buddhist Community, offered me a lifeline. Meditation became my daily dose of sanity in a world that I felt had gone mad, and mindfulness transformed my caffeine-fuelled existence into a slightly more grounded, peaceful one, but still I find myself grasping for that ever elusive state of mind we have come to call enlightenment.


Conclusion: From Coffee Addict to Spiritual Seeker


So there you have it, folks - the not-so-epic journey of how I, a self-proclaimed coffee addict found a little solace in the teachings of Buddhism. As I continue to stumble my way through meditation sessions and attempt to practice mindful living, one latte at a time, I am grateful for the unexpected detour that led me to this path of self-discovery.


No matter how chaotic life may seem at times, there’s always a moment of stillness waiting to be found within me if I give it some space to reveal itself.


I hope readers find this humorous account of my unexpected journey into Buddhism entertaining and relatable. Buddhism offers valuable lessons and practices that can benefit anyone, no matter how unconventional their path to enlightenment may be. If anything, I hope it inspires someone wondering what being a Buddhist is about to come along one evening.... you will find that we are all quite normal... but all have a desire to show up better in the world each and every day. Howard Widdison, aged 51 and 3/4, Shoe size 9.

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