Inside The Borrowdale Meditation Center With Founder Dave Sheehan


Just like yoga, meditation and conscious living are slowly seeping into Zimbabwean culture. Usually when people first hear about meditation they are wary of the religious aspect of it. However this wave is becoming more of a norm and a must do for anyone who’s looking to have a more balanced, calm lifestyle in an urban setting. Dave tells us more…

I didn’t have a particularly religious upbringing. I was introduced to Buddhism 20 years ago through my late sister who was involved with a Buddhist monastery in Monaveil. I was a bit arrogant and thought Buddhism was a bit unusual and too out there for me.

When you are angry don’t dump your anger on me, it’s your anger! This statement as told to my late sister by a friend changed my outlook completely. Normally when one is angry he or she often looks for an external object to blame or blames themselves. Angry this is either internalized or externalized. That got me perplexed and quite fascinated.
I later went to the centre and met a really good man by the name Rob Nairn. He was a criminology professor who later relocated to Cape Town. The centre’s hall is called the Rob Nairn Hall after him. He is an incredible man who was constantly trying to understand the human mind. His interest has been sparked by a Tibetan High Lama he had met.

Buddhism is about understanding the mind. It is essentially centered on three things. 1. Abstaining from every negative or harmful activity. 2. Trying to cultivate every virtuous and positive activity. 3. Taming the mind. We all have certain habit patterns, some beneficial such as kindness, love and feelings of greed, anger and jealous being detrimental.

Buddhism is not a religion. Unlike what many people assume, Buddhism is not a religion it is about mind training and reaching your full potential, the ultimate potential of the human mind. From the outside it looks like you would have to worship the Buddha but in reality you prostrate to the potential of your mind, thus the Buddha is a representation of your ultimate potential. Prostration is also good for humility, enabling you to learn from others as well. Buddhists do not want to convert you to a religion or philosophy but to happiness and contentedness. Buddhism helps you understand that everything in life has a cause and effect. If you follow it’s 5 presets then your life will infinitely better. They include not smoking or taking mind altering substances, not to kill, not to steal, not to take that which is not given.


Meditation teaches you to be present. When the mind is present it is uncluttered and harbors the knowledge of what to do and how to react to given situations. It is linked to intuition. You learn about your mind. It gives you the support to bring your attention back to your present moment and you start to see how you have been getting so distracted. You learn to understand what is going on in your mind moment by moment. You because an impartial observer. There is no good or bad, only thinking makes it so – Shakespeare. We might say we are the most intelligent creatures but our lives are not based on logic. We rely on historical events, our backgrounds, perceptions and emotions to make decisions. For example person A was bitten by a dog when he/she was a child but person B had a loving relationship with dogs when he/she was growing up. These two people react differently when they encounter dogs, A is filled with agitation nor taking into account that this is not the same dog, this viewing all dogs as bad, while B thinks dogs are good. With enough mind training you learn not to see good or bad. We create stories about external objects we are attached to. We attach pleasure or pain to these external objects shaping the way we interact with them. Rather than seeing an object as it is we create stories which have nothing to do with the object but how our minds perceive it. Seeing the world as good or bad, black or white, right or wrong leaves us in an agitated state and pollutes our minds. Meditation makes the mind more clearer and more stable and we ultimately realize there is no good or bad.

Meditation is a long term solution not a quick fix. Thus it is not easy to see the benefits at first. If you look at the world everything is superficial. Gadgets were designed to make our lives easier. A car is supposed to get you from point A to point B, however it has now become a status symbol. The reason why marketing is so successful is it plays on your insecurities, fears and emotions. As a result we spend our lives chasing “bigger and better” things because we are led to believe that acquiring things will make us happy, stress free and accepted. The insecurities we carry around make sure we never settle down, our minds are never calm, peaceful or clear. We desire more and more. The untrained mind buys into into that and is left disabled and unstable. We become slaves to our desires. Meditation extracts you from that world. However you need to be motivated to change your mindset because ultimately it is a do it yourself exercise.
Regular Meditation is like Spring cleaning of the mind. So in order to get that fresh, clean feeling you have to do it regularly. You get what you put in then so if you meditate for 5 minutes you get exactly that, unlike if you do it for 30 minutes. If you want to enjoy the full benefits of meditation, first of all allocate a certain amount of time to do it each day. You also need to know what you are meditating on, thus you need a bit of instruction from a teacher to be able to carry out your practice effectively. There are many different types of meditation and ways to meditate that’s why one really needs a teacher because a teacher can guide you in understanding your mi d patterns. In the beginning understanding habits patterns and making meditation regular is enough.
Meditation applications are good for beginners. But meditation groups are more useful. Our minds are foxy. When you do it on your own you end up creating preferred mental state. Training helps you see your mind for what it is. Only this moment truly exists. If you understand that then everything becomes clearer and your life more peaceful. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about the future. But most of our thoughts are neurotic  and are centered on ME ME ME. Many people are in a mad rush like headless chickens. Not many stop and take stock of what their lives are all about. Questions like “What am l doing with my life? Where is it going? What am l doing that is meaningful? How am l different from an animal?, never cross their minds. Not many people are genuinely out there trying to help others, they are only concerned with themselves. We end up putting our energies in the wrong areas. With time habits will change. A lot of people think they know themselves but they don’t. Meditation is about seeing through the facade. Self awareness is key. Our true potential is a sane mind. A sane mind will not get angry because because it knows that getting angry will harm it and others. Our destiny is a clear, refined perceptive state of mind which is equal parts strong, gentle and powerful.
I’m not a trained teacher but l present courses on meditation for anyone looking to get into it. Courses range from introduction to meditation and other healing and relaxation courses. Everyone is welcome to attend the courses. We don’t charge for the courses but we encourage attendants to contribute what they can which goes into the maintenance of the center. We don’t want cost to be a hindrance to anyone who wants to learn. We host one or two retreats in Nyanga annually as well as visiting teachers throughout the year. We have a special visitor from Tibet this September. We desire that everyone have access to a stable mind that is wise and kind then everything will change but at the same time nothing changes just your attitude and perception.
My own mindfulness routine is quite simple. I train everyday for a couple of hours. I listen to a lot of talks on meditation and mindful living by various Buddhists instructors. I usually recite a few mantras throughout the day to keep my mind present.

Info on the next meditation retreat.

Weekend Meditation Retreat in Juliasdale, Zimbabwe
Dates: 19 – 21 January 2018
Presenter: Dave Sheehan
Venue: Susurumba Retreat Centre, Julisadale, Nyanga, Zimbabwe
Cost for the weekend including meals:
Shared rooms – $50
Camping – $30
Contact Dave Sheehan on for further information.
Ideal for experienced and beginner meditators

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