BY SHAFAQ PARWEZ
A group of 10 women listen attentively and take notes as their instructor delivers a lesson on meditation. Each one of them agrees that he has a soothing voice which makes them feel at peace.
Di Tang, an architect and digital media artist by profession, has been practising the art of meditation for most of his life. In May 2015 he began teaching it with some modifications he introduced himself.
Tang practises and teaches Benjui meditation, which derives its principles from Mahasati meditation which has been taught and observed in East Asia for more than 150 years.
He holds a series of classes at the Idea Exchange in Cambridge.
The main reason why Tang decided to modify the existing practises of Mahasati meditation was because of a lack of movement in it.
He has introduced several hand movements which help distract the human mind. Benjui meditation trains the mind to stay focused in the middle of distraction.
Tang said this form of meditation trains people to be mindful of everything in their surroundings. The key, however, is not to force oneself to focus and pay attention all the time but to allow the practise to become a habit naturally.
Benjui meditation upholds the idea that the mind and body have free will and every person needs to just observe and feel the way their body acts.
“It is an integrative mindful method,” said Tang. “It is a systematic meditation originated by me.”
Tang uses PowerPoint presentations, discussion and practise times to teach his students how to meditate according to the Benjui method.
The attendees of the class said practising this art made them feel more peaceful.
Cara Kernaghan, an elementary school teacher in Kitchener, said it allowed her to break away from a constant state of hyper focusing.
“I just found that it’s a perfect opportunity to have the time to still the mind,” she said. “I am interested in the mind and body connection; I think we need to control our mind so that it does not contribute to illness in the body.”
Tang said Benjui is not an escape from our daily lives; it is an incorporation of meditation in our routine chores.
When movement in our daily lives distracts us, Tang said to let it in and then let it flow out. “In this method we focus on cultivation of wisdom. When it recognizes or notices something is wrong even with distraction, you don’t need to force your mind to correct it; you do it naturally.”
Tang said this form of meditation is not restricted by age, gender or religion. There is no specific way of sitting or meditating.
Tang does not claim any miraculous memory or health benefits from this meditation, but did say participants should have increased awareness, mindfulness and less stress which naturally makes them less jealous and more aware of the present moment.
“That is the result but not the purpose,” he said.
The natural focus on details and the present moment, he said, makes it all come naturally.