Southsea Sangha is a peer led, open access Buddhist meditation group, founded by volunteer meditation teacher and now, Community Dharma Leader, Daniel Sutton-Johanson. For the last 4.5yrs they have been running and growing their community from Portsmouth Yoga Studio, bringing renowned international meditation teachers from across the globe, to our island city, for daylong city retreats and meditation evenings.
2019 saw the community move homes to The Coastguard Studio, where, every Sunday at 6pm, they continue to run and offer open access, peer led meditation classes, freely offered to anyone who is interested.
In May this year they turn 5yrs old. The reason why that’s significant is not only have they grown at an exponential rate since their inception, but the group is run entirely on a Buddhist principle and practice of Dana (Generosity). Dana, being a radical practice and concept of “come and see, come and listen, and if you find this beneficial, we invite you to support us to continue”. No obligation, no entrance fee or expectation.
Daniel highlights this as an underpinning principle of the community; “Among other things, it means no-one is ever turned away for a lack of funds and you are invited to contribute to the growth of a community you feel part of and what you see us doing. It’s a deeply personal practice, not a rule or demand. You’re invited to check in with yourself on how being (not necessarily always feeling!) generous is for you, and to know you’re supporting something wholesome. Dana isn’t just limited to money too, people offer dana in their time and energy. All is welcome.”
To celebrate their new home, and as a run up to their 5th Birthday celebration, they have collaborated with local animator and illustrator SKEVER (a.k.a Sam Brandon) to produce a beautiful animated short.
Strong Island are delighted to exclusively release this collaboration, which brings together the creative and the spiritual vision of Southsea Sangha. The animation pays homage to our diverse and vibrant city and our collective, shared human experiences, sharing how and why being part of Sangha (community) has helped people connect and suffer less.
“You are invited to contribute to the growth of a community you feel part of.”
Southsea Sangha began meeting with just 4-5 people once a month in May 2014, but now run:
- Weekly meditation groups for between 20-30 people every Sunday.
- An early morning beach meditation every Wednesday between May – Sept.
- A weekly mindfulness based recovery group for those struggling with addiction called Refuge Recovery.
- A food surplus collection service with several local café’s supplying a local homeless soup kitchen called Sangha Seva (Seva being the pali word for service).
After meeting their overheads, any surplus dana is donated to local homeless and rape counselling charities. The sangha also offers dana to Daniel to support him supporting his teachers, who assist him, through dana, in his training to support the community, continuing the Buddhist tradition of dana, 3000yrs on.
We asked Daniel, what can you expect if you turn up to sangha?
“Well, you’ll probably walk into some loud music, lots of laughter and people checking in with each other, chatting. I like that Southsea Sangha disrupts the conventional perception of what a meditation community looks or sounds like. There is an atmosphere, friendliness and inclusivity, which we are always striving to build upon. Dharma Dens, are weekly hour long group, which involve a guided meditation and community check in, and Dharma 2, is 2hrs and runs on the last Sunday of every month. They include a guided meditation and a dharma talk and discussion around practice and often have an opportunity for Q&A.”