The place is quiet when you walk in. Tucked in a back corner down an alley out of the fuss and noise of Thamel, the Brahma Kumari center is the last place you land when you get lost. The inside is calm and peaceful, and a welcome change from the rush and the traffic of the city. The brothers and sisters are all in white: white kurtis, pants and tops, scarves and cardigans, now that it is getting colder out. And no jewelry adorns their ears or noses or wrists. It is simple, all very simple, which is a stark change from the brightly colored clothes and golden jewelry of the rest of the city.
I decided to come here after my roommate, Lauren, started going to their free morning meditation class. It lasts a week, and is a one-on-one class teaching about what the Brahma Kumaris believe, and on how to meditate. It seemed interesting, and I figured, while in Nepal might as well learn to meditate!
So here I am, a week into the meditation class. Thea (thee-ah), my teacher, greets me in the morning with a quiet “Om Shanti, sister”, and I reply the same. She leads me into a room off of the main courtyard, which serves as a museum of the teachings. Around the side are window displays filled with visual representations of the cycle of the world, groups of Brahma Kumaris mediating, the repetition of a soul through many bodies, and others. She points with a soft finger at the pictures in the meditation textbook, explaining to me the ways in which the soul is our true self, not the body, and the 5000 year cycle of the world. And I sit and nod.
It is interesting, learning about a different theory of life. It is not quite a religion: they embrace all religions, and make a point of explaining why all the religions came to be, and the ways in which all of the major religions explain God as a point of light, which the Brahma Kumari’s believe. They teach meditation as something which gets you in touch with yourself and with your soul. They do it with the eyes open, so that we gain happiness and good will through our eyes, and so that we can learn to focus on our souls throughout the day.
It is calm, being here. It is apart from the rest of the hectic city, and it makes a point to be a source of peace. Thea tells me about how the Brahma Kumaris take a few minutes at the beginning of every hour to “de-clutter”. How they spend a few minutes in silence to reconnect with themselves, to find their centers once again. How after they have done this they can get back to their work,to their jobs and their lives.
It is an interesting idea, taking the time out to recognize that so many things clog our brains at once that, at times, we need a rest from it. We need to give our minds a break and clear it out a bit, make room for new thoughts, feelings, ideas. But if I actually follow through on putting that into my life will be determined. For now I simply command my mind to focus on the words and the pictures, the ideas behind the meditation, and I learn.
And so, at the end of the class, we sit, and meditate. Thea talks to me, her voice softly rising and falling with a story about how strong we all are, how able we all are. She talks about how the work we do should make us happy, and how we can clear our minds to make room for our real soul to be focused and uncluttered in our work and in our day. She talks about finding this peace and holding on to it. And then she ends, chanting a quiet “Om shanti. Om shanti, sister”.