Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Claire Kenny
Features Writer
1:01 AM 14th October 2023

Mindfulness And Meditation In The Monastic Ruins. Leeds’ Best Kept Secret

40 plus blogger Claire Kenny is attending a range of free and paid for events throughout autumn in partnership with @leeds2023, which tie into her work to help others plug into accessible community activities and celebrate real, everyday moments.

As a Leeds lass, I was thrilled when I was invited by Leeds2023 to take part in a series of events designed to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences and spread the word via my blog, My 40 plus life.

Led by the Leeds Culture Trust and in collaboration with Leeds City Council, LEEDS 2023 offers a unique and significant opportunity for the city and surrounding areas to embrace culture in all its forms, from grassroots neighbourhood festivals to slick theatre productions and installations.

A key headline is ‘opportunity’ – with a strong focus on communities, with the common thread being connecting and benefiting people now and into the future. This is something I’m particularly passionate about; there are many opportunities to avoid isolation and loneliness by plugging into the local community – we just need to make it easier for people to find them. I use my blog to do just that, as well as to help people feel confident enough to participate, particularly if they’re solo.

Take weekly Meditative Walks at Kirkstall Abbey, on every Wednesday at 10.30. These are hosted by Valerie Bowker from the Leeds branch of Brahma Kumaris, an organisation which offers the teachings of Raja Yoga meditation as a way of experiencing peace of mind and positivity.

The premise of the walks is simple: a gentle walk around the stunning setting of Kirkstall Abbey designed to help people benefit from movement and mindfulness away from day-to-day life.

Banners punctuate the short route, each of which offer thought-provoking slogans designed to get participants to look inward and contemplate their interpretation of each statement. There’s an option to pair up and discuss this enroute to the next pit stop, or reflect on them solo.

The walk comes to its conclusion in the Cloisters at the centre of the Abbey. This is an area that was sheltered from noise and disruption, with access to outsiders restricted and silence observed. It was an appropriate atmosphere for meditation and prayer.

(L-R) Claire & Valerie
(L-R) Claire & Valerie
Valerie explains further:

“The main aim is to come and switch off, and be with ourselves in an environment which is already peaceful and calm. It’s also an opportunity to connect with ourselves and with others. You don't know who you're going to bump into and connect with.”

Afterwards I felt like I'd been let in on some sort of a secret. A free event, access to an expert of mindfulness and meditation, and some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful monastic ruins. It was such a worthwhile way to spend my morning and I’m so keen to get the word out. Hopefully this article will help!

As part of their Year of Culture, @leeds2023 is offering a range of free and low cost events to help us connect with our local community. Check out their insta! And don't worry about going to things solo - I certainly don't.