Right before leaving England at the end of my Master’s study in 2017, I decided to spend the little time I had left as wisely as possible. Volunteering was a good thing, I’d thought, especially somewhere quiet and remote so that I could immerse myself in the beautiful English landscape while mulling over my own future plans.
One day, I heard about the volunteering program at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in Ulverston by chance. For some reason, I felt I was predestined to register. This visit later transformed me in so many ways, which I will share with you below.
As I am writing this right now and the visit is coming back vividly in my mind, this quote describes exactly how I feel about my time there.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”Thich Nhat Hanh
This post will be divided into two parts. First, I will share some practical information about volunteering at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre (KMC) in Ulverston. Then, I will elaborate on how this one-week volunteer visit profoundly transformed me.
I hope this post will inspire you to consider volunteering here, trying meditation, or simply paying more attention to the wonderful world we are living in right now.
Volunteer at Manjushri KMC Ulverston – Things to know
Where is Manjushri KMC Ulverston?
Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre is housed in Conishead Priory – a Grade 2* Romantic Gothic House located just south of the English Lake District. Read more about getting to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre HERE.
For my volunteer trip, I took a train from Hull to Ulverston and then walked to the center. Luckily, a monk who was driving past saw me struggling with the bulky luggage and offered me a ride. In hindsight, I should have taken a taxi for around £7 since the walk was quite long.
Surrounding the center are vast spaces of gardens and woodland, providing the utmost peace and tranquility for its residents and visitors. From the main building, you can reach a cobblestone beach after walking for 10 minutes across the wood.
How did I register for volunteering at Manjushri KMC Ulverston?
I registered online via their website. I could also find all the necessary information about volunteering at Manjushri KMC there.
How long did I volunteer at Manjushri KMC Ulverston? How many hours did I work every day?
I worked for approximately 5 hours per day from Monday to Friday. I stayed there for one week, so I had Saturday and Sunday free. Some other volunteers I met had stayed there for months and still really enjoyed it.
There were two 15-minute breaks per day as well, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. During those breaks, we volunteers would rush to the kitchen and find out what kinds of snacks were available that day :).
What were the accommodations for volunteers like?
The pleasantly comfortable volunteers’ dorm, which I shared with 5 other ladies, is located on the 1st floor of the building. The shared bathroom was clean and right next to our room. The center provided bedsheets and pillowcases for us, so I only needed to bring my sleeping bag for a warner sleep.
What did I eat during my volunteer at Manjushri KMC?
The center offered tasty vegetarian meals three times a day for its volunteers. Some of them were the best vegetarian dishes I’d ever had in my life.
What kinds of work did I do?
At the beginning of each day, the volunteer coordinator would allocate different tasks to the volunteers. The tasks varied depending on the season.
I mostly worked in the laundry with tasks such as ironing, folding the bedsheets and pillowcases, and re-organizing the laundry space. The other tasks I did were vacuuming and cleaning a guestroom, cleaning a food tank, carrying tents from the forest back to the center, and helping with lunch preparation in the kitchen.
How hard were these tasks?
Were these tasks strenuous? Not at all! I’m a small Asian girl who can hardly run for 5 minutes without collapsing but still could finish them all.
In fact, the more I worked there, the more enjoyable the tasks seemed to become.
Once when I was folding the pillowcases, someone told me to try thinking about the results of my folding actions. If I folded them nicely with a genuine wish that the people who would lay their heads on them would have a restful sleep, I would subconsciously transfer my positive energy into the pillowcases, which in turn would help make my wish for these people come true.
Honestly, I don’t know if such a belief can be explained scientifically, but I tried it and felt great myself. And I believed it. It’s like sowing a seed of positivity into every action we take and watching it bloom :).
5 ways my volunteer trip at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre transformed me
There was ample space for quiet contemplation
Surrounded by a quintessentially picturesque English landscape, the Manjushri KMC provides an ideal haven for those seeking a quiet space for self-contemplation.
Every morning before breakfast, I would wander in the wood and listen to birds chirping. If I got up early, I would also walk further to the other side of the wood and watch horses roaming freely on a nearby farm. In the evening right before dinner time, I would sit at the beach and watch the sunset in perfect tranquility.
Communing with nature helped me greatly to find inner peace. As I watched the tides falling while sitting on the beach alone, my mind became clearer and I started to notice thoughts and feelings arising inside of me.
Despite my previous belief that meditation involved stopping all thoughts, it was not exactly so. Instead, meditation was about slowing down, increasing awareness of my present being, and admiring the wonder of everything, even the smallest ones, around me. That was one of the most important realizations that I came to thanks to the valuable time spent in quiet contemplation at the Manjushri KMC.
Talking to fellow volunteers helped me become more open-minded
During my stay, I met volunteers from all over the world who helped change my world views dramatically.
There was a middle-aged Portuguese lady who’d volunteered there for 6 months and told me that despite owning no house, no car, and no credit card, she was still happy 🙂
An Indian girl in her 20s enlightened me about Hinduism and faith while we were sitting in the kitchen on a memorable rainy evening.
I also met a visiting nun from the US who was quite talkative, which surprised me greatly. Before that, I’d always thought all monks and nuns shared the same calm and meditative look. Perhaps this stereotype stemmed from my familiarity with Asian monks only. Meeting this loquacious nun helped me realize that they are not distant but rather very relatable figures. While sharing the same belief, each of them still has a distinctive characteristic, just like normal people.
I learned new skills I’d never thought I would learn
Despite staying at the Manjushri KMC for only a week, I was lucky to learn some new skills in cooking and housekeeping. I heard that others who stayed longer had the chance to learn about barista and sculpture as well. How interesting!
Love was omnipresent
“Love is in the air” – this quote rings truest at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre. Everyone I met was so benign that I felt naturally inclined not to harm even an ant!
No dark thought ever crossed my mind while staying there, as the whole center and its surroundings created an overwhelmingly peace-loving and harmonious ambiance. If a criminal visited the center, I believe his or her malevolent intentions, if any, would eventually turn into acts of benevolence at this peaceful place.
Free meditation sessions were perfect for beginners like me
Volunteers can join daily mediation sessions at the Manjushri KMC for free. Guided by venerated monks and also suitable for beginners, these meditation sessions last from 15 minutes to an hour and take place either in the grand temple or in one of the cozy rooms in the main building.
I myself had tried meditation before, yet often found it hard to stay focused without getting bored. Thanks to the guided meditation sessions here, I learned to relax and concentrate on my breath while practicing mediation, which was really helpful.
Volunteer at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre – A transformational week
My one-week volunteer at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre was one of the most peaceful and transformational times in my life. Thanks to the volunteer trip, I’ve learned to appreciate the presence, nourish benevolent thoughts, accept novel ideas with an open mind, and commune with nature more.
And you? When was the last time you went on a trip that transformed your life? Share with me in the comment section below. If you have any other questions about volunteering at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre Ulverston, don’t hesitate to comment as well!
Read more about my other journeys in England and the rest of the UK here.
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27 thoughts on “Volunteer at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre | A transformational week for me”
Wow…that seems…so quaint. I kind of fell in love just reading about it! It’s also nice that the tasks weren’t too strenuous either. I think I would want laundry duty too!
What a lovely post! It’s so nice to leave some time in our lives to give to others. What always amazed me after a volunteering experience is that I end up helping myself the most. We learn about ourselves and grow as a person. Nice to see the time there also changed you, and that you enjoyed it!
Very interesting. I had no idea that voluteering at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre can have so many benefits.
This sounds like such a good way to escape the world for a while and really contemplate life. What a gorgeous setting in the English countryside too. Would you be tempted to go back once all this virus madness is over?
I would love to volunteer one day, and this looks like the perfect place to do it!
This all just feels like a dream away now with the current lockdowns 🙁 So refreshing to read as an escape!
How lovely.. I loved reading your experience here. I would love to volunteer someday.
I really enjoyed reading about your experience and takeaways from volunteering at the meditation center. Maybe I will do something similar one day!
This sounds like such an incredible experience and so life changing. I would love to volunteer one day and your experience makes me want to even more!
This sounds so peaceful. I’d love to do something like this.
My family are from here (well, Barrow nearby) and I always wondered about this place. Great to learn a bit more about it
It seems like a very rewarding thing to do.
This looks like such an amazing experience! I love that comment about the positive energy with the pillowcases, I’m going to have to try that with the chores around my home!
What a great post and such a spiritual and rewarding thing to do. I love the thought of meditation (though don’t practice it myself) so to combine it with volunteering and learning new skills sounds perfect.
I love to read about the experiences that people have while meditating. It is definetely not for me, but I am happy that it can help people so much. Glad to read about what you did and that you did not get too tired with all that laundry!
So nice to read about your experience! very inspiring !
This sounds so nice to escape life for a little bit! Also love the vegetarian dishes, I’m vegetarian and it’s sometimes so hard to find the good vegetarian food. The sunset on the beach is gorgeous!
I have been to Lucknow but never know about Manjushri Kadampa Meditation centre. Thanks for sharing all the elaborate details. I think a visit will be important once this lockdown chaos ends.
I have never been to Lucknow but now I would definitely visit this place once.
I myself is associated with a organisation which focuses on meditation and as part of it ,its my routine now to meditate in morning.
And i know how peaceful it is.
Thanks for sharing
This is a beautiful place, and I understand why you had a special memory of this place. Volunteering during travels gives us the opportunity to be more connected to the place, the people, etc, in addition to the fact that it will help to save us on other expenses. This niche industry is hugely hurt by the current pandemic (even here in Australia where many traveler/volunteers ended up stuck).
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about your experience and how transformative it was in such a short amount of time. I could envision myself there in the setting you described and feel the peace there. I’ve never considered going on a retreat or working as a volunteer in a meditative place before, but you have made it sound so wholesome and beneficial that I might consider it one day. Thanks for sharing your story!
Volunteering at a meditation center is such a profound experience. I have always wanted to do it at least once. And the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Center seems just the perfect fit for me. All that vegetarian food looks so tasty and healthy.
Wow, it was such a lovely read in the time of all the chaos around. Manjushri KMC Ulverston looks beautiful, especially the beach and the woods. I can understand that volunteering at the Meditation Centre was one of the best decisions of your life and you had such a profound experience. I had a similar feeling when I was at Auroville. I had not volunteered but had spent an entire day there. Thanks for sharing this.
Meditation is a great way to find peace in yourself. I did a meditation retreat myself and it was life-changing. I would be happy to share my experience with you offline if you are interested in doing one!
That sounds like an absolutely transformative experience! Thanks for sharing!
This looks like such an empowering and fulfilling experience! I have not yet done volunteer work in my travels but feel like it’s something I should do very soon to get the most of the exprerience! I will look into this 🙂
I loved how you joined the volunteering program at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in Ulverston and that too by chance. The green meadows and fields are so relaxing and peaceful here. I would love to spent some time here when all gets well.