Meditation pot-luck lunch with Claude AnShin

“Bring cushion, blanket and vegetarian food to share,” were the instructions for yesterday’s meditation workshop at the Pierian Centre.

I have never known a pot luck not to work: my plate was filled with favourite foods such as raw beetroot and seaweed, butter bean salad, rice and lentil salad, raw carrot and hummus…

We practiced eating meditation. We ate in silence, aiming to chew each mouthful consciously, with 50 chews.

Eating silently and slowly in company was strangely relaxing.

I had helped promote this event with Saint Stephen’s and the Pierian Centre so it made sense to go.

But I had dreaded it. What? A whole day of meditation? I felt trapped.

Instead the day was rich and intense.

The workshop was led by Claude AnShin Thomas supported by KenShin.

(“How do I address you?” I had asked KenShin. “Ken – like Ken and Barbie – and shin as in leg,” she answered.)

Claude AnShin Thomas was a Vietnam veteran with post-traumatic stress – like many in the military or caught in war.

His spiritual practice helped him cope with flashbacks and emotional pain.

Meditation does not make horrifying experiences go away.

But being conscious, or awake, paradoxically makes trauma easier to cope with.

You learn to sit with discomforting feelings rather than self-medicate or distract yourself to push them away.

Claude AnShin Thomas is funny, straightforward, down-to-earth, profound and deeply touching.

A mendicant monk, he is homeless, goes wherever he can make a difference, and lives on donations.

He works for peace with the Zaltho Foundation by being as conscious as possible. “Everyone has their Vietnam,” he says.

I have marched for peace but peace activists can work for peace by healing the war inside, too.

I am reading his book, At Hell’s GateBeautifully written, so worth reading.

He’s not a new-age guru making money from spirituality, but a man with a troubled past who found his spiritual practice bought him peace, and who has dedicated his life to sharing this to help others.

And this real-ness transmits, I swear.

7 responses to “Meditation pot-luck lunch with Claude AnShin

  1. Thanks for your write up Elisabeth, I wish I had been able to attend the day, I am a big fan of this style of engaged Buddhism.

    “Everyone has their Vietnam”, how very true and how important it is to come to terms in consciousness rather than the alternative of blotting the experience out of the mind.

    Thanks again for sharing!


  2. Thanks, Mike.

    I love the way Engaged Buddhists believe in not being too attached to a fixed point-of-view or ideology (even Buddhism!).

    Here is a link to the Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism and one to the UK network of Engaged Buddhists.


  3. Meditation is good for health problems.


  4. What a great shame that The Pierian Centre will close its doors in December.
    I too slipped my disk in 2001 Elisabeth. Following that I found yoga which I have practiced ever since. I have been free from pain for over 10 years after a lifetime of back problems (being tall). It is the breathing practices that I find most helpful and such a good stress buster afer a heavy day!
    I am so still enjoying your writings from afar – keep it coming.


    • Thank you, John.

      Yes, a shame – thank you for saying .

      The Pierian Centre has done (no, not past tense!) great work. Bristol City of Sanctuary, Refugee Week, Bristol community art as well as a beautiful event centre with groovy happenings.

      Its founder and director, June Burroughs, is amazing.

      Phoenix-like, something may be reborn.

      The Pierian Centre’s Celebratory Open House is on Tuesday 6 December from 10.30 am to 10.30 pm.

      Slipped disc. Fellow-feeling.

      Glad you found yoga. I was doing yoga at time of slipped disc and subsequently went off it for two years! Partly my fault (trying too hard). But I have returned (another story) and it’s great and I am grateful again.

      So (thanks, Facebook, Twitter) you are on a cycle ride to Paris! Yes, yoga after a day of cycling – good idea.

      Thanks for your profile link to the The Mentoring Ring in Cardiff.

      A profit-driven society throws people on the scrap-heap. Well done for helping reverse the widdershins.

      I read widdershins in D.H. Lawrence (The Plumed Serpent) today.

      And now, just found out (thanks to commenting here) widdershins means reversing the counter-clockwise motion that is going against the sun.

      D.H.Lawrence: “But he, too, was widdershins, unwinding the sensations of disintegration and anti-life. No, she must send him [the American acquaintance] away, She must, she must free herself from these mechanical connections.”

      Or D.H.Lawrence used it differently?

      Anyway: The Plumed Serpent, set in Mexico, is about elemental forces rising to balance out capitalism’s steely grip.


  5. You really do enhance my enjoyment of life Elisabeth – that’s a neat explaination of the word ‘widdershins’. I must give a talk tomorrow and may weave it in to my little speach. I am also tempted to grab a copy of The Plumed Serpent. I do enjoy Lawrence but have not read this particular novel.
    Thank you so much for your good wishes for my cycle ride to Paris. I loved every minute and was like a little boy in a sweet shop going around the Musee d’Orsay! So many classic Impressionist & Post Impressionist images. I was blown away by Degas’ pastels of ballet dancers. Still so vibrant after all these years.


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