Does the sangha meet every Thursday evening?
Yes, we gather every Thursday from 6:50-8:30 P.M. except during the month of August and between Christmas and New Year’s. We encourage everybody to arrive a few minutes early to allow themselves time to settle. We begin promptly at 7:00.
Can anybody come on Thursday evenings?
Absolutely yes. Our sangha is open and welcoming to everybody.
Can I participate if I have not meditated before or if I am not familiar with the Plum Village tradition?
Yes to both questions. If you have not meditated before, we would suggest that you tell us beforehand. We can then arrange a time when we are able to provide an introduction. If you are not familiar with the Plum Village tradition, you may wish to check out www.plumvillage.org and/or we can provide an introduction and suggest other resources.
Is there a cost to participate at the Thursday evening meditation?
No. Since it started, our sangha has operated on the principle of “dana” (the word for generosity in Sanskrit and Pali). This means that people are encouraged to contribute whatever they are able in order to help us pay our rent and other expenses. A dana basket is available every Thursday evening where people can place their contribution.
At the Thursday evening meditation, must I sit on the floor?
No. People are welcome to bring their cushions, zafus and zabutons to sit on the floor. Other people prefer to sit on a chair. Many chairs as well as thin cushions are available. The important thing to remember is to be comfortable yet alert.
What happens on Thursday evening meditation.
The evening is casual and easy to following. It consists of several parts–Welcome, Sit, Walk, Sit, Read/Listen, Talk, Tea. More specifically, after everybody is welcomed, we sit silently for 20-25 minutes. This is followed by 7-10 minutes of walking meditation and then another 20-25 silent sit. The next part changes from week to week and may include a dharma talk or reading, chanting, a recitation, etc. Usually we then set aside several minutes when people can share their experiences. The evening wraps up with a mindful tea practice.
What is the meaning of the bell ringing and bowing?
Throughout our Thursday evening we often invite (or ring) both a large bell (or bowl) as well as a small handbell to help us focus our awareness as well as to signal the start and finish of various practices. Also, on several occasions during the evening we will bow to one another, to an alter and to our chairs/cushions as a simple sign of acknowledgement and respect. The bells and bowing can seem somewhat confusing to newcomers. Consequently we urge people to relax and simply follow their neighbour—and never to be worried or concerned about making a mistake.