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The Alternative Wellness Epicurean M-mmmmMeditation: Four Bozeman Offerings for Getting off Your Butt and Onto the Cushion
By the time this issue hits the stands, millions of New Year’s resolutions will have been made (and probably more than a few already broken!) A popular resolution for those interested in becoming healthier, less stressed and more serene is to start a committed meditation practice.
Meditation is no longer solely in the realm of the spiritual – it’s moved into mainstream health and wellness, with abundant scientific research extolling the benefits of sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes a day and breathing. In addition to lowering blood pressure, raising self-esteem and amping up your immune system, regularly practicing a form of mediation can boost your health in many ways. Just type “meditation, health” in a search engine and you’ll be barraged with studies and articles that provide in-depth information on the healing benefits of this ancient practice.
While you don’t need any instruction, per se, to just sit quietly once a day and breathe, it can be helpful to have a teacher who can help with your accountability and answer questions that may arise during the first few months of the practice. Bozeman Magazine invited several local mediation groups to tell us about their offerings – here are their reports.
Namdroling Tibetan Buddhist Center:
Namdroling is dedicated to the Palyul tradition of Vajrayana Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism. Namdroling’s guiding principle is that of Bodhicitta, or loving kindness and concern for others. Their aspiration is to nurture and strengthen the community by studying, practicing, and living the Dharma, and helping the greater community through acts of service and by sharing the Dharma with all who are interested. Namdroling is open to all with an interest in Buddhism. The Center offers practices on most Sundays and the major auspicious days in the Tibetan calendar. Call the Center to find out more about beginning meditation classes at 587-2907.
Through her business Evolutionary Teachings, Angela Patnode offers weekly classes in meditation practice, for beginners as well as for current practitioners, or spiritual seekers looking to explore different aspects of life for enrichment. Angela recommends “How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery” by Lawrence LeShan to start. To have a hands-on experience of meditation in a group setting, Angela is offering a 6-week introductory course on Wednesdays, Jan. 11 – Feb. 15 from 7-8pm, as well as a 4 week continuing meditation class focusing on Aging with Joy (this is for all adult ages), Tuesdays, Jan. 10 – 31 from 7-8pm. Classes are held at Yoga Motion in the Emerson Cultural Center. The $38 cost of 6 classes and $25 for 4 classes follows the Buddhist tradition of minimal fees to cover the cost of the room. To register or for more information, visit www.evolutionaryteachings.com, call 522-3884, or email email@example.com.
Bozeman Insight Community:
Insight (mindfulness) meditation is a way of seeing clearly the totality of one’s being and experience. Although this meditation practice has its roots in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, it requires no belief commitment and is compatible with all religious affiliations. The foundational practice of mindfulness (Insight) meditation is a sitting meditation initially focused on attention to the breath. There are two books that are excellent and easily available that give the new meditator some background on Insight Meditation. The first is “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. This book has sold over 250,000 copies and is one of the best books on Insight Meditation. The other book is a general introduction to mindfulness “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Vietnamese monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The Bozeman Insight Community group meets Sunday nights from 6:30-8:00pm at Yoga Motion Studios in the Emerson. There is a silent meditation to begin the evening, followed by tea and discussion afterward. Instruction is available for those who are new to meditation. There is no charge. For more information please visit their website: www.bozemaninsightcommunity.com.
Zen Buddhist meditation is a practice for anyone and everyone. If you seek to meet yourself with honesty and serenity, and to meet others with wisdom and compassion, upright sitting with a dedicated group is beneficial. Such activity will support whatever practice you might like to begin at home. The Bozeman Zen Group has been meeting since 1999. They offer weekly meditation and study, via classes, ½ day retreats, weekend retreats with guest teachers, and private interviews. The practice is aligned with the Soto lineage of Zen, introduced to the U.S. by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. His collection of talks, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, is a wonderful introduction to the world of Zen. Another helpful text is Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck. They welcome anyone with an interest in meditation. Weekly meetings are currently held at the Bozeman Yoga Studio, 1716 W. Main Street, downstairs. More information can be found at their website, www.bozemanzengroup.org.
If none of these offerings in Bozeman resonate, there are many different audio programs on meditation available from the wonderful Sounds True catalogue. Their website, www.soundstrue.com, offers multiple on-line courses, teaching CDs and instructional books with CDs from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions that can get you started.
So you see? There is no good excuse not to try to sit down, close your eyes and just breathe. You might be amazed at the results! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012.
Liz Harrison is an alternative health and wellness junkie who lives in Bozeman. This column explores the many alternative wellness offerings and practitioners in the Gallatin Valley. Suggestions, raves and rants may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org