How to take the stress out of meditation? Try it out in a class near you.
THE IRONY ABOUT attempting meditation is that it can be kind of stressful.
“The amount of angst I see in people coming to class for the first time, it’s horrible. It takes a lot for people to walk into someplace religious,” says Gen Kelsang Rinzin, resident teacher at the Heruka Buddhist Center. “It fills people with trepidation.”
People don’t know what to expect, whether they will be welcomed, what will be required of them or even what type of class is right for them.
Just Google the term and you’ll find a ridiculous number of meditative practices and forms. Each one has its own theory on posture, attention and state of presence. There are Zen meditations. There are Mantra, Yoga and Transcendental meditations. There are Taoist and Qigong meditations. There are Christian meditations, including contemplative prayer. There are apps and podcasts featuring guided meditations that are of no particular religion or philosophy—easing students into the ideas of mindfulness and visualization with instruction.
But Rinzin says you should forget all this, about Google, about the internet and about what the internet has to say about meditation.
“Just come try it,” he says calmly and oh-so Zenlike. “Go to a class with other live people. Just try.”
While you are at it, forget the meditation you think you know: the chanting, the sitting cross-legged on pillows, the blank-mindedness. In his meditation classes, practitioners are guided to meditate on specific positive concepts.
“By meditating on virtuous thoughts—like being caring or loving, compassion or patience or becoming less attached to our worldly things—it gives us buoyancy, which makes us more resilient,” he says.
Rinzin says the benefits of meditation are vast. Of course, there’s the whole “seeking enlightenment” thing. For people just seeking something simpler, meditation brings peacefulness, mindfulness and perspective. It’s a rare opportunity to look inward.
“Meditation draws you away from the problems of the world,” Rinzin says. “We are always relating to other things. When we meditate, all that other stuff goes away. You get to see who you are—for better or for worse.”
“But it’s always for the better,” he says.
While some of his classes contain Buddhist teachings, they are not classes for Buddhists. All are invited. People of any religion or of no religion at all.
“They can take the bits they like and leave the bits they don’t,” he says. “I would like for everyone to know they are welcome.”
Be Like Buddha
Put down the meditation app. Here are spots where you can try meditation classes with other people:
Heruka Buddhist Center
149 W Harvard, Suite 102, Fort Collins
Heruka offers several meditation classes throughout the week, including a 30-minute noontime class on Tuesday. Some classes include Buddhist readings and teachings, but the Tuesday class is all meditation.
Shambhala Mountain Center
151 Shambala Way, Red Feather Lakes
Workshops, retreats and classes are offered at this stunning mountain center. The Learn to Meditate two-night retreat is the ultimate introduction.
Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center
126A W. Mountain Ave, Fort Collins
Public meditation is offered several days a week with free instruction. Sessions conclude with a short Dharma talk or reading. Kids and teens programs are also available.
CSU Center For Mindfulness
This university center offers and supports meditation events and groups for both students and the community.
Check the schedule at your fitness center, church or yoga studio, many of which offer stand-alone meditation classes.