Venerable Dawa Yangchen is the spiritual leader and was the program facilitator of Meditation in the Shire for many years. She became ordained in Sydney in June 2003 as a Getsal Nun in the Gelupka tradition and studies with the Vajrayana Institute which is a Branch of the "Federation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition" (FPMT).
The Spiritual leader of the FPMT is Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Meditation in the Shire (MITS) was Venerable Yangchen’s dream over 10 years ago; to bring the benefits of meditation to the people of the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, Australia. It was known at the time as Meditation With Venerable Yangchen, the name Meditation in The Shire had not even been thought of at that time as she was the sole teacher. It began with 2 students a week at her home and started to grow when Danielle from Engadine Yoga Centre requested MITS to run a class from her Centre. This grew into an evening, daytime and early Saturday morning class each week. After a few weeks, MITS ventured out into the Shire opening classes at Cronulla. All classes were for adults and teenagers then and 3 years later, classes were opened at Menai and included children from the age of 4 years.
Sutherland Shire Council generously offered to sponsor this project and this led to meditation classes ended up being held at Yarrawarrah, Menai and Cronulla for adults, children and teenagers. 18 classes a week! After a couple of years some of the students wanted to take their meditation practice further and explore Buddhism so MITS offered monthly workshops on both meditation and Buddhism. As well as workshops, MITS has conducted 2 one-day Retreats a year at Bundeena and an annual Three-Day Vipassana Retreat at Govinda Valley, Otford.
Venerable Yangchen is not a counsellor but had people referred to her by counsellors, therapists and doctors who are well aware of the therapeutical benefits of meditation. These people were seen privately, by appointment, at Menai and commence their therapy with intensive relaxation and breathing techniques and then progress onto mindful meditation techniques.
In late 2010 it was obvious that MITS (then existing then of 6 adult classes, 3 teenage classes, 6 children's classes and 6 private classes a week, 3 Retreats a year and several public speaking jobs as well as monthly workshops) and completely and solely run by her was becoming too much to handle on her own. By Mid 2011 it started to take a toll on her health and classes had to be cut back, in 2012 there were two classes plus a childrens class but by the end of 2012 with her health being affected there was the threat of the dream having to be let go of.
In June 2013 Stephen Procter was hired to teach the Cronulla meditation class and he soon reopened the Menai one which has proven popular and which is continuing to grow. The classes still have the same ethical base as those in Venerable Yangchens dream over 10 years ago, classes are run on Dana - Generosity and anyone who wants to learn Buddhist meditation and to bring a bit more happiness and peace into their life is welcome regardless of their financial background.
Venerable Yangchen has devoted her Buddhist practice to bringing the positive benefits of Buddhism and Meditation to all people, especially the Sutherland Shire, for that we all should be grateful.
IT could have been bad news for people who meditate when Venerable Yangchen decided to retire from teaching in June this year. Venerable Yangchen, a Buddhist nun, has been running Meditation in The Shire for nine years and many seekers of peace have come to depend on her. But the good news is that she has been replaced by "a very energetic, enthusiastic and professional leader" named Stephen Procter.
"Meditation in the Shire is very blessed to have found him," Venerable Yangchen said. "I think Buddha had a hand in this. Meditation classes are not only continuing in the same way but will be extending." For Stephen Procter, getting the job with Meditation in The Shire seemed like an important piece of a jigsaw puzzle falling into place. After his mother's death in December, Mr Procter, 47, decided to give up has day job to devote his life to doing what he loved: practising and teaching meditation, tai chi and qi gong.
He was already spending some of his spare time teaching at the Australian College of Tai Chi and Qi Gong at Caringbah so starting his own business was the next step. While his new business, Tai Chi Health for Life, was building up, Mr Procter looked around for a part-time job to supplement his income and came across Venerable Yangchen's ad in the Leader. As a Buddhist, Mr Procter will be able to continue Venerable Yangchen's spiritual teachings along with meditation practice.
He said there was growing interest in meditation to achieve and maintain mental health. "Meditation brings attention to the present moment; thinking stops and negative emotions disappear. There is immense peace in that," he said.
Hi, my name is Stephen Procter, since a very young age I had a fascination with martial arts and meditation, I was attracted to the idea that we had the potential to better ourselves, to mould the type of person that we could become. To my young mind the idea that we had the power to mould ourselves served as a strong attraction and led to the starting of my study.
It has been a long and enjoyable journey, one that I look forward to continuing each day, looking back now I have been studying meditation seriously for over twenty years and martial arts for well over thirty, yet I still feel the passion of what they can bring to our lives. This passion is what I want to share with you, the ability for you to create who you are, to become responsible
for your own physical and mental health and to live a long an happy life.