Facilitator ~ Yoga Bowers

Yoga Bowers a grandfather with four grandchildren and six children is a retired IBM Executive. He has lived at Gilpin House since 2007 and started hosting a weekly meditation practice group for family and friends in November 2011. His inspiration is the vision of Buckminster Fuller, Make the world work for 100% of humanity, meditation teachings of Osho, Mindfulness in the Modern World and the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn on the role of Mindfulness in Education.

In 1967 Yoga, aged 22 was in Singapore on business where he fortuitously met Venerable Swami Sariputra, a German Monk, from the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, a Mahayana Buddhist Temple. Under the direction of the Venerable Swami Sariputra, Yoga was instructed in the two Buddhist meditation practices Vipassana "mindfulness of breathing" and Samatha "calming of the mind".

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Singapore

Returning to England in 1969 Yoga attended the first of the summer gatherings at Brockwood Park with Krishnamurti an enlightened teacher with a passion for inquiry. At the same time, Yoga was inspired by the bold vision of Buckminster Fuller on how the computer would contribute “To make the world work for 100% of humanity” and so started his career in Information Technology (IT). In the 1970’s Yoga joined IBM and after a very successful period of mainframe sales in the City of London was privileged to work in IBM Scientific Programs on Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 it provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The IBM Smarter Planet initiative the was built on this foundational work and in 1989 Yoga received the IBM Chairman’s Award for Exceptional Achievement.

In the 80’s Yoga studied with the Dalai Lama at Tzong Khapa Institute, Pomaia, Italy, and at Manjushri, Ulverston, home to the largest Buddhist community in the UK. Yoga attended courses at the Centre for Alternative Technology CAT, Wales that was leading the world in increasing awareness of environmental and social issues. Reading his first Osho book in 1981 Yoga began his commitment to the meditation journey with Osho in 1982 in the USA. This benediction continued with annual meetings with Osho in USA and India until 1990, a unique blessing to be with a living master for nine years who also gave him his spiritual name. In 1985 Yoga was honoured to drive a group of monks from Manjushri to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, Hemel Hempstead where the Abbot Ajahn Sumedho discoursed on "The Sound of Silence. This trip was to enable the monks from both monasteries to attend the opening ceremony of The London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park, London. During a 90’s trip to Scotland Yoga visited Samye Ling, Europe's oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and Findhorn a spiritual community that is one of the largest communes in Europe.

Since 2011 Yoga facilitates a Thursday evening Mindfulness Meditation Practice Group at Gilpin House KT3 5BL. Yoga has attended many Satsangs (literally means ‘association with the wise’) at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Putney, London since 2005 and enjoyed a couple of Kirtan concerts with Krishna Das. In 2012 he did a nine-week online course Evolving Beyond Ego with Craig Hamilton. The focus was on the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality - that by evolving yourself, you are participating in the evolution of humanity, life and consciousness itself!

Following the two March 2013 conferences with Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Bangor University Mindfulness in Society Conference in Chester on 24 March and the Mindfulness in Schools Conference in London on 27 March 'Mindfulness' replaced 'Wellbeing' in the Meditation Groups title. The Mindfulness Foundation was founded to campaign for Mindfulness Meditation in Schools and got off to a great start with the Mindfulness in Education debate in Parliament Westminster Hall on 10th December 2013.

Recent MOOC edX courses studied by Yoga, sharing path breaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contributions to the betterment of our world, have included "The Science of Happiness" created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, "U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self" from MIT Presencing Institute and Medicine in the Digital Age from Rice University.

Getting richer and more productive is not making us happier. More and more people are looking to spirituality and meditation to help make sense of the buzzing confusion of 21st-century life. Meditation means different things to different people and while the word can be used to describe a wide variety of practices and methods, they are all based on one big idea - by training your mind you can improve your Wellbeing - the purpose of meditation is to learn how to love better.

Meditating together creates a strong spiritual atmosphere which allows a deeper experience of Mindfulness - the capacity to be aware and non-judgemental, allowing of whatever is going on in our experience. Although a natural quality we all have, when we use the exercise of meditation to build it like a muscle, mindfulness can enable a sense of clarity and freedom which benefits us and everyone around us.

To celebrate the life of Shanti Burgess (29 October 1947 ~ 31 January 2016) Yoga led the eight-week September - October 2016 "Action for Happiness Course ~ Exploring What Matters?" at Gilpin House with Caroline Leahy. This resulted in the creation of the New Malden Hub for Action for Happiness that meets on the first Thursday of each month, where people can connect and share inspiration together. As Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, says "These local connections hold the key to happier lives and a happier society".

"Mindfulness meditation is a well researched, non-religious and very effective

means of preventing depression and enhancing human potential

by combining modern science with ancient wisdom"

Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Oxford University

Mindfulness Symbol

The ‘symbol’ that expresses mindfulness

The top character means “now, today, this present era, this moment”. It looks like a peaked roof or a mountain. The bottom character, shin, is usually translated as “heart” or “mind.”

A more complete meaning of this character is “heart, mind, intelligence, soul,”…. bringing your whole heart, mind, intelligence, and soul into this very moment, into right now,

and into this modern era. Being in present moment awareness is a protection (a roof) or a stable foundation (a mountain) for our heart, mind, intelligence and soul.

In turn, this liberates us to be a benefit in the world, through our energetic, mindful, care. This has so much more depth than the simple term “mindfulness.”

Peg Syverson