New To Meditation

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Insight meditation (vipassana) is the practice of paying attention to our present-moment experience with kindness and without judgment. By gently and continually directing our attention to what is happening now, we cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom.

There are numerous benefits to meditation, from a simple calming of the mind and stress relief to complete liberation of the heart and freedom from suffering. Human beings have practiced meditation in different forms for millennia.

In recent years, researchers have confirmed many benefits from meditation – from decreasing reactivity and negative emotions, to increasing creativity and concentration. There is also growing evidence that the practice of meditation can help people manage physical challenges, such as chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep issues, cancer, and asthma, among many others. It may also boost immune function.

“The whole path of mindfulness is this: Whatever you are doing, be aware of it.”

-Dipa Ma

THE DHARMA

In Buddhism, Dharma has three meanings. It refers to (1) the ultimate truth, (2) phenomena in our experience and the world and (3) the teachings of the Buddha that lead to awakening and enlightenment.

While the practice of mindfulness is enjoying great popularity in our world today, many mindfulness programs are not centered within Buddha’s teachings on liberation. As our dharma elder, Katherine Barr says, “secular mindfulness is wonderful—but there’s so much more!” We are committed to offering the liberating teachings of Buddhism.

The Buddha was intent on offering practices that decrease suffering in our lives, help us cultivate wholesome, healthy mind states and happiness, and ultimately awaken us to the realization of liberation—a mind free from suffering and an understanding of the nature of reality. Through practices such as dana (generosity), sila (ethical conduct), and bhavana (concentration of mind and heart), we begin to see the world more clearly, developing wisdom and compassion right in the midst of our busy lives.

The Dharma is known and recognized through experiential practice. It is not a belief system. As practitioners, we deepen our understanding of Dharma through our own direct investigation and experience through the example of the Buddha, the teachings of Dharma, and the support of our community, the Sangha. In this way, the “triple jewels” (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) strengthen our practice of awakening.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What should I expect when I come to the Dharma Center?

A warm welcome! All of our offerings are open to beginners and first-time visitors with the exception our advanced classes and groups, which are specifically geared toward experienced practitioners or those with specific identities, such as seniors.

When you arrive at the Dharma Center for a Monday night sit, you will be met by greeters who will invite you to enter our cloakroom where you can store your coat and shoes. We have never had a problem with theft, but we encourage people to bring valuables with them into the hall. (And please silence your cell phone!)

Inside the meditation hall, there is a variety of seating options, and we encourage you to sit where you are comfortable. We offer cushions (zafus) and mats (zabutons), chairs with arms, chairs without arms, and bench seating lining the periphery of the room. There is also plenty of space for wheelchairs or powerchairs.

We have ample restroom facilities and welcome our friends of all gender identities to choose the restroom where they feel most comfortable. There is also an all-gender family restroom available on the main level as well as on the lower level.

We are a community built on kindness and generosity. Chances are you will be sitting next to someone who would be delighted to answer questions and make a new friend. Feel free to introduce yourself!

What if I’m not Buddhist?

While we offer the teachings of the Buddha, the practices of meditation, mindfulness, kindness, and generosity are universal. You do not need to believe anything, espouse anything, wear anything, or be anything you’re not. All are welcome here. Come as you are.

Is the center accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, we are ADA compliant. Our entrances have ramps and automatic doors, there is a handicap-accessible restroom facility, and there is plenty of space for wheelchairs in the meditation hall. We do have one room downstairs that is only rarely used for small programs.

 

If you would like assistance getting to, from, or around the center, please reach out to our volunteer coordinator, Elisabeth Peterson, at twinfish@bresnan.net.

What if I have a hearing impairment?

Teachers and leaders use microphones and we provide amplification headsets for those who are hearing impaired. Hearing aids are located in the cupboard in the back corner of the meditation hall. We recommend coming a few minutes early on a Monday night sit or class and asking a greeter—or whoever is leading the sit—to assist you with your headset.

Why do I need to be fragrance-free?

In order to be a welcoming place for all, we ask that you wear scent-free products (or none at all) when coming to the Dharma Center. Some of our sangha members have chemical sensitivities and allergies, and even fragranced essential oils can cause reactions ranging from flu-like symptoms to difficulty breathing. Thank you for being mindful of your fragrances!

Do I sit on a cushion or a chair?

We have chairs (with and without arms), cushions, and bench seating on the periphery of the room. Special accommodations can be made for people who need to lie down when meditating. Please reach out to a member of our Dharma Council if you need to make special arrangements.

What if I cough or sneeze or fall asleep during meditation?

Coughing and sneezing are no big deal. If you are coughing intensely for a long period, you may wish to get a drink of water or a cough drop. Cough drops are generally available on the counter in the foyer. It’s very common to fall asleep during meditation, and it is no problem. If you are snoring, you might wake up to a fellow meditator ever so gently alerting you!

What is Pali?

Pali was the language in which the Buddha taught. From time to time, we use Pali words in dharma talks and on our website. Always feel free to ask whoever is offering the teachings what specific words mean. For a glossary of Pali terms, please click here.

What is dana?

In the Buddhist tradition, the teachings are considered so valuable you can’t put a price on them. For more than 2,600 years, teachers and communities have been supported by the practice of dana, a Pali word that translates as “generosity.” Just as students depend upon teachers, teachers depend upon students. Through a practice of mutual generosity, teachers share the Dharma, and practitioners support the teachings through gifts of money, resources, and service. This system has allowed the teachings of the Buddha to become available to all people, regardless of socioeconomic background, and has supported the spreading of the teachings through countless generations.

The Durango Dharma Center only exists through the generosity of the people who value what we offer. We would not be here without your generous support of our center and leadership.

Dana is not a payment or a fee. It is a gesture of the heart and a beautiful practice of mutual support and sharing. Those who offer teachings at the Dharma Center rely on the generosity of our practitioners to sustain themselves and continue offering their important work in this world. We invite you to participate in this beautiful tradition.

There are many ways to give dana. For more information about offering a gift, please visit our donation page. For information about volunteering, please visit our volunteers’ page. If you would like to read more about the practice of generosity, please refer to “The Gift of Generosity” an article written by Phillip Moffitt.

What if I can’t afford a class fee or offer a donation?

We very much welcome you! No one is turned away from any program we offer for lack of funds. All of our programs, classes, and retreats provide scholarships.

For off-site residential retreats, which are generally held at inns, we offer an ample but limited number of scholarships and encourage those with financial considerations to sign up early for those offerings.

Can I offer my yoga class in the Dharma Center’s space?

We very much love and support our yoga teacher friends and other spiritual friends. At this time, we are not able to accommodate programming for non-DDC events.

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