Jul 102010

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You bought the zafu, you broke out the incense, you bought the guided meditation CD, you found a comfortable place in your home near a few potted plants… but this meditation thing is just not working out for you! No matter how hard you try, you can’t quiet your thoughts or find a sense of connectedness. After a few moments, you begin feeling anxious or bored, usually. No matter how many meditation books you’ve read, the real secrets seem to elude you. Perhaps it’s time for you to visit a meditation center to get serious about opening your mind and body to spiritual awakening. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few places to look.

In Los Angeles, the Kadampa Meditation Center is a comfortable white building nestled in the Elysian Valley between Griffith Park and Dodger Stadium, with convenient access from Highway 5. They offer a number of classes, day courses, study programs and retreats. Kids, individuals, couples and families can all attend classes, which focus on breathing techniques, meditation, a short lesson and discussion time. Their website explains Kadampa Buddhist teachings as such: “If we do not maintain a peaceful state of mind we are not happy even if we have ideal conditions. On the other hand, when our mind is peaceful we are happy even if our external conditions are unpleasant.” Rigorous study programs, meditation teacher programs, lunchtime meditations and temple ceremonies are all available. For more information, visit www.nkt-kmc-california.org.

The Insight Meditation Center in New York City is an urban center that focuses on two types of meditation; mindfulness and vipassana. These Buddha-inspired teachings are suitable for beginners, who can come and take a four-week course that teaches the basics. One of their creeds is: “When we carry a burden, it’s heavy; when there’s no one to carry it, there’s not a problem in the world.” The center also holds day long themed workshops such as “Conscious Aging: Applying Open Minded Mindfulness” or “The Gift of Speech: Communicating from the Heart.” For those looking to forge new bonds with like-minded individuals, there are social events like potluck dinners to foster a sense of oneness. To learn more, visit www.nyimc.org.

“There’s a reason why Buddhist monasteries have traditionally been built on high mountaintops or deep in the forest,” says Melvin McLeod, editor-in-chief of the Buddhist publication Shambhala Sun. “Getting into nature and breaking from the usual storylines of our lives helps us to tap into our own deeper consciousness.” According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, the top meditation center programs are incidentally set in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Some of these retreats include: Ananda in the Himalayas (Uttaranchal, India), Shambhala Mountain Center (Red Feather Lakes, Colorado) and The Middle Way Meditation Retreat (Loei, Thailand). Visit www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/ten-top-meditation-retreats/1 for their full “Top 10 Meditation Retreats” list.

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 Posted by at 11:47 am