Schedule: Practice is held on the first three Sundays of each month from 4:00 until 6:00 pm. Plan to be in and seated by 4:00 pm; the door locks at 4:00 pm.
Location: Congregation Har Shalom, 725 West Drake Road. Enter through the West entrance.
Agenda: The first hour includes silent sitting and walking meditation; the second hour includes mindful eating and drinking of tea and snacks followed by dharma discussion.
Gathas, incense, and candles: We use 'gathas' or short mindfulness sayings at different points in our practice, especially when lighting incense and candles.
Comfort during meditation: During sitting meditation, feel free to sit on a cushion, sit in a chair, stand up, or lie down. During walking meditation, you may continue to sit, hang out in the lobby, or join the group in the walk.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings: Each session includes a sharing of one of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, a set of principles that date back to the Buddha's first teachings. The Buddha offered these as guiding principles meant simply to guide us to more mindful ways of living; they are not 'commandments'.
Transitions: When it's time to change activities, the facilitator will signal the transition with the sound of a bell.
Bowing: Bowing is a greeting of respect and a reminder to be mindful in that moment. We encourage you to adopt this practice of putting your hands together at your heart and bowing, making a lotus with your hands. Bowing is a sangha tradition as we enter the meditation hall, prepare to take a seat, prepare to speak, finish speaking, or acknowledge each other.
Tea and Snacks: We serve tea and snacks as a way to practice the Fifth Mindfulness Training, "mindful consumption". Eat quietly, mindful of each bite, each sip, and all of the sensations of taste, texture, and temperature from moment to moment.
Dharma discussion: This helps us practice of the Fourth Mindfulness Training, "deep listening and loving speech". It's a time to listen deeply and speak from your heart about your own experiences; it's not a time to give advice or to engage in debate.
Closing: The practice comes to a close with three bows and three bells. The bows honor the Three Jewels: the Buddha (our ancestral and current teachers), the Dharma (the teachings, old and new), and the Sangha (our community of practice). Finally, we dedicate the merits of the practice, honoring our commitment to practice mindfulness for the benefit of all sentient beings.
For Beginners Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to speak with one of the facilitators and ask questions about the practice.
Fourth and the Occasional Fifth Sundays Since we don't meet on the fourth Sunday of each month, we encourage you to practice on your own. We'll share suggestions for on-line resources, other study materials, and practice activities.
When there is a fifth Sunday, we sometimes meet for regular practice or hold special events such as pot-luck socials, days of mindful service, or other activities that would support personal growth and fellowship. We will announce any 5th Sunday plans via email.
Meditation Tips In meditation, it matters more what you do with your mind than what you do with your body. Sitting on a cushion cross-legged, sitting on a chair, sitting on a small bench, standing, lying down -- these are all matters of individual preference and physical capability. The goal is to find a position for your body that will free you to pay attention to what is going on in your mind.
While meditating, maintain awareness of your entire being. When sitting, keep your spine in an aligned and lifted position to allow deeper breathing. Periodically scan your body for signs of discomfort and quietly adjust yourself as needed.
Learn to "follow" or pay attention to your breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, bring it back by gently re-focusing on your breathing. This helps you settle the restless activity of the mind so you can begin to notice what is happening within you in the present moment.
Inevitably, you will be distracted by physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions during meditation. Don't fight or judge them. Simply observe them, letting them come and go. You might want to examine one of them more closely to see what it has to say to you. Listen to your thoughts and emotions with respect and love. Let go of judgments.
You might also choose to silently repeat a gatha or short phrase to help you focus your mind. Here are some short gathas offered by Thay to coordinate with your breath: In-Out; Deep-Slow; Calm-Ease; Smile-Release; Present Moment-Wonderful Moment. Slowly say the first word as you breathe in, then say the second word as you breathe out.
During walking meditation, take each step at a gentle, mindful pace, paying attention to how the sensation of slow walking shows in different parts of your body. You might want to coordinate your steps with the rhythm of your breathing. Walking meditation helps us learn to be more mindful "off the cushion."
Donations The sangha supports itself by accepting donations or "dana" in the spirit of sharing resources generously. There is no obligation to contribute, nor is there a fee to attend practice. We use the dana to pay rent for our meeting space and to purchase supplies. When possible, we also offer scholarships for sangha members to attend retreats using dana funds.
Other Local Activities
Peaceful Heart Sangha is connected with other sanghas in Colorado and Wyoming. We occasionally help host "Days of Mindfulness" as well as multi-day retreats with Dharma teachers in the Plum Village tradition. We communicate announcements via email to members of our Google Group.