Around the turn of the century, the great yogi Swami Vivekananda visited Britain. He gave lectures and taught the basics of yoga and meditation to British seekers – Vivekananda was one of the first to bring the great spiritual traditions of India to the West. He stayed several months and it included a trip to Loch Lomond, where he chose a spot on the lake to meditate.
In 1973, Sri Chinmoy visited Scotland and, after visiting Glasgow, wished to take a train ride to Balloch and visit the great lake of Loch Lomond. Sri Chinmoy was a great admirer of Swami Vivekananda (see: Swami Vivekananda at Sri Chinmoy Library), and after a short picnic with disciples, he went off on his own to try and find the spot where Vivekananda meditated several decades prior. Whether he actually found the spot or not is unknown; in truth there is a strong meditation presence all round the edge of the loch. (so long as you can avoid the midges, who could test all but the most advanced yogis)
This year, we went up to Loch Lomond for a weekend with the current members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. A mix of disciples from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, America and quite a few other nationalities too.
I could try to pretend I had a long sunset meditation by the lake, but walking fast through the mini clouds of midges was as close as I got. However, we did have a good meditation in the safe environs of a local church hall. After the morning meditation, there were games, canoeing and other stuff, which was lots of fun.
I spent several hours on a train from Oxford to Balloch. I don’t often get to travel on the train these days, but do quite enjoy it. I could do a bit of writing and work, but also just relax – looking out of the window watching the British landscape rapidly change.
Unfortunately, modern train travel is not quite like the idyllic Hogwarts Express. The romance of steam and old-fashioned compartments – replaced by oppressive air conditioning and a family who played very loudly a video – “The wheels on the bus go round and round” – to their three year old child.
For the first minute it was kind of sweet, but after a few more minutes, I feared I would permanently have this children’s song go round in my head for the rest of eternity. Fortunately, the repetitive musical interlude was short-lived and they disembarked at Birmingham, giving a relatively trouble free run to Glasgow and Balloch.