Leeds Buddhist Centre: Oasis of peace amid modern life’s bustle

MEDITATION ROOM: Uddyotani, formerly Helen Doherty, is a teacher at the Leeds Buddhist Centre, Leeds Bridge House. PIC: Simon Hulme
MEDITATION ROOM: Uddyotani, formerly Helen Doherty, is a teacher at the Leeds Buddhist Centre, Leeds Bridge House. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Amid the hustle and bustle of the city centre’s Leeds Bridge area, there lies an oasis of calm.

The location is Hunslet Road’s Leeds Bridge House – better known to many as the ‘flatiron’ building close to the Adelphi pub.

There, above offices used variously by travel charity Sustrans, property firm Headingley Lets and Leeds Counselling Services, can be found the Leeds Buddhist Centre.

The centre is a registered place of religious worship and operates as a self-funding charitable company.

Part of Buddhism’s Triratna tradition, it has a team of experienced teachers that includes 49-year-old mum Uddyotani.

Uddyotani, who was plain Helen Doherty of Chapel Allerton before she was ordained, agrees that the centre’s daily routine offers a happy contrast to the rat race outside its windows.

She said: “This is a haven, this is a beautiful place.

“People coming here might not find everything as they would expect – we do not wear robes, for instance.

“What they will find, though, is an opportunity to discover space and awareness.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to escape from the painful things in their lives. What they can get is a more truthful view of the world.”

Around 800 people from across Yorkshire are on the centre’s mailing list, keen to keep up with its activities.

A few hundred people each year take one of its courses offering an introduction to Buddhism and meditation.

Every Thursday around 20 or 30 people gather at the centre for its regular ‘friends night’.

It gives them a chance to meditate with others and share ways of deepening their understanding of Buddhism.

The centre also runs secular courses called Breathworks that support people from all backgrounds living with pain or illness.

For more details about the centre, visit www.leedsbuddhistcentre.org or ring 0113 244 5256.

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in the fifth century BC and is today commonly known as the Buddha.

* Leeds Bridge House is home to one of three Buddhist centres in Leeds.

The others are the Ratnasambhava Kadampa Buddhist Centre, in Oakwood, and the Jamyang Buddhist Centre, near Park Square in the middle of Leeds.

They practise more Tibetan forms of the religion, whereas the Triratna tradition aims to present the teachings of the Buddha in a way that is most accessible to people in the West.

All three Leeds centres join together with other Buddhist groups in the city for a celebratory meeting on the Buddhist festival of Wesak, which takes place in May each year.


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