|Hi, I'm Alastair Gamble. I have been a practising Buddhist from 1993 onwards, beginning at the age of eighteen. In my first year with Buddhism, I managed to build up a daily meditation practice of over two hours in length, and I experienced on one particularly sunny summer evening, a deep and profound state of mind, which manifested as one of bliss, rapture and one-pointed concentration. This event cemented my view that meditation really works, and that there can be much happiness, joy and attention to be gained from the work in meditation, and developing oneself spiritually as an individual. I also have a strong and healthy appetite for reading, especially books on Buddhism and meditation, but also current affairs and other fictional books.
In the early years with Buddhism and meditation, I struggled, from time to time, with my mental health, as I took the practice of meditation and my life to extremes, by denying myself nutritious foods and therefore not eating healthily, getting little quality sleep, and working late into the night on architectural schemes. Since those early days, I have been able to find mental equilibrium, due to primarily taking a suitable medication and since June 2011 having a daily meditation practice.
Meditation - My Journey
In April 2011, I was invited to start teaching at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, and two months into the teaching I felt I needed to embody the principles that I was imparting to people. I knew that I needed to establish a daily meditation practice, so as not to appear as a fraud for conveying a practice to willing and eager participants that I was not doing myself. I believe one of the main reasons why, for such a long time before, I was meditating sporadically, is the fact that I was trying to sit for too long a period of time, and this was just not sustainable on a daily basis. What I have come to realise is it should be ‘a little often’ rather than, ‘a lot infrequently’ in the beginning at least, and then build it up from there over a longer period of time.
In June 2011, I meditated for 30 minutes a day, which then increased to 50 minutes a day after almost three years of teaching. I have always alternated between a mindfulness meditation and a loving kindness meditation practice. In the early part of 2014, I manifested a sort of mental breakdown due to my medication being tampered with, but I managed to keep things psychologically together by my meditation. By the end of the year, after making a full recovery, I was convinced that I should write a book about my adventures due to the places I went to, the people I encountered, and how I overcame my paranoia and fears through my continual Buddhist practice. By writing the book, it is a way of giving the public an insight into what it was like for someone, who was deeply committed to his Buddhist practice, and was completely aware of his actions while labouring under the episode, to then come out stronger and more clear about the path he had to follow - on the other side. It is called Annus Dramaticus in 2014CE and by clicking this link you will be directed straight to the website you can buy it from. You can also check out my Facebook page: Alastair Gamble – Author which imparts more information to hopefully whet the appetites for those who love reading.
Since having written the book and had it published, I have increased my daily meditation sits to between 1.5 hrs. and 2 hours, and I am now setting myself up as a guide and mentor. In my time as a Buddhist, I have come across the teachings of quite a few different traditions and schools, namely those from Tibetan, Theravada and Zen Buddhism - all under the tutelage of the Triratna movement. I have also witnessed, for quite a number of years, quite a few teachers and their styles. I left Triratna in May 2015, as I had lost faith and confidence in quite a few of the order members in the movement, but I still maintain and deepen friendships and have formed a small sangha (spiritual community)with a select few, who I sincerely trust and respect.
Although, I hope to impart a measure of knowledge, experience and wisdom to people, I am also exploring the path in its fullness like everyone else on a spiritual quest, and I really see this as a collaborative effort.