July 6 2016
Nestled amongst the leafy suburban houses in Wimbledon and just off the bustling High Street, lies a tantalising taste of Thailand. It appears unexpectedly on an otherwise ordinary road and lifts you abruptly out of your routine world to be greeted by voices speaking in Thai and the sight of Buddhist monks in their traditional saffron robes.
Our first sight was of the peaceful gardens with their elegant bridges which are looked down upon by a gold statue of Buddha, who stands in front of the Dharma wheel. By the time we climbed up from here to the temple itself, we were convinced that we were anywhere but London.
Our monk guide gave us a very informative talk about Buddhism and about the paintings on the walls in the Temple, which depict the life of Buddha, but also detail various influences from diverse cultures, from Colonel Gaddafi and Margaret Thatcher to Superman! Well done to India for finding a well-disguised image of the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben!
The girls were asked to repeat certain affirmations to help them remember more about Buddhist beliefs and were even thrown complex maths questions (thank you to Jemima for saving us all with the answers!).
Fully informed, we were then led through a walking meditation: a new experience for all of us and one that I am sure the girls especially will remember. It was particularly interesting to learn that meditation is present in every activity that the monks undertake in the form of mindfulness. Indeed the monk made an expeditious exit at 11 o’clock, the time of one of their most mindful events of the day: lunch!
Back to reality and back to school in time for our own lunch and the girls probably did not linger too long on the novel experience they had just had, and yet I am certain that it is one on which they will return to reflect for a long time to come.