A RETIRED GP from Ruthin who has meditated since becoming a Buddhist 25 years ago to “deal with the ups and downs of life” has started meditation classes to help others enjoy its benefits.

Dr Sion Williams, who worked at The Clinic on Mount Street, Ruthin for 22 years, meditated throughout his career and took dozens of retreats around the UK to manage severe stress and concentrate on his work.

A less common remedy in the 1990s, Dr Williams, dad-of-two who lives with his wife in Llandyrnog, never suggested meditation to his patients. Today, mindfulness, the cousin of meditation in which participants focus on an object such as the breath or bodily sensations, is widely recommended by the NHS and Dr Williams now hopes he can use his retirement to bring its joys to people in Ruthin and Denbigh.

He said: “The whole time I was a GP, I used meditation to deal with severe stress, the ups and downs of life and seeing all of the suffering in the world. I miss my patients and I thought, now that I’ve retired and I have the time and energy, meditation classes are good way to give back to the community.

“Meditation sounds mysterious but I do think it can involve everyday activities like having a cup of tea or going for a walk or run and it can have so many benefits.

“It can lead to contentment in the simple things in life, helping to deal with a busy mind, improves concentration and for busy people it can be a way to have some freedom.”

Dr Williams is a volunteer vegan chef at Vajraloka, the Buddhist meditation retreat in Corwen and in September he will become an order member of Triratna, the most popular Buddhist movement in the UK, after years of practice and dedication.

Discussing his experience as both a medical expert and meditator, he said: “Meditation isn’t a magic button that makes stress go away, but if you do it regularly it helps.

“It can also help with illness – it may not cure a broken leg! – but it eases the stress experienced because of physical injury and helps to think more positively, which can improve one’s recovery outcome.”

For all its potential benefits, however, Dr Williams is keen to emphasise that it does not help everyone in the same way and there are times when meditation is not suitable. “It is not easy to start in the middle of a crisis and I wouldn’t advise meditation as a solution to serious mental illness like severe depression,” he said. “Talking to a therapist is best in that case. Getting out of the house and exercising would be another way.

“But it has been proved to prevent light depression from returning.”

Dr Williams said he has to meditate for half an hour before his mind “slows down” but advises beginners to practice for periods of up to 20 minutes each day. “Even three minutes is better than nothing,” he said.

Dr Williams added that a group environment is helpful for learners and he hopes to “build a community” around the practice.

He also suggested children could benefit too. “Meditation helps with addiction to screens, it frees up our craving for it,” he said.

“I’m scared by the amount of time kids are spending on screens, their attention is really poor.

“Meditation is the opposite – if you can train yourself to be OK with being a bit bored then you’re doing well!”

The sessions take place on Mondays (starting February 11) in Denbigh at Hall Square Pilates Studio between 5.45pm-7pm, and in Ruthin at the Llanfwrog Community Centre between 8pm-9.30pm.

For more information visit the Ruthin Meditation Group Facebook page.