October 16, 2014 by Zuri
It’s been stressful lately. In part because of some very personal issues I haven’t shared on this blog. Also because of all these dietary changes, school issues, I’ve had to sit back and re-examine my life.
I try my best to practice the tenets of Buddhism. More than a decade ago, I was introduced to Mindfulness and Buddhist teaching through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and I was immediately drawn in. It all made sense to me. Where religion and spirituality left gaping holes in my life, Buddhism filled them. I read more, anything I could get my hands on, and it all rang true to me.
Recently, however, I’ve been losing touch with my practice. I rarely meditate. I lose focus. I forget the teachings and let things get to me much more readily than I used to. I need to get back to the practice, and I decided I can’t do it alone.
In Buddhism, there are the Three Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. They are all key components in Buddhism. I have never been a part of a Sangha. A Sangha is the Buddhist community or congregation, who practice and learn together, usually under senior students or a teacher. Thus begins my quest for a Sangha.
There are a number of meditation groups within an hour of where I live, so I’ve been researching what I can find. There is a Shambhala center, there’s a center focusing on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and a few Zen centers. I’m concerned about the cost. The websites mention membership fees and donations, and I don’t know what’s appropriate to donate and what’s not. Those sites that recommend a specific donation, I worry about feeling guilty about having to offer less. The Membership fees vary from $300-$600 annually, which I just outright can’t afford.
After posting on /r/Buddhism on Reddit, many people encouraged me to email the center about their fees. While I understand fees are a necessity for the smooth running of a group such as these – rent, etc. – they assured me that my ability to pay would not prevent me from coming to their events. They do have to charge a fee for membership, but they are willing to work with me on an amount I can afford, and a payment plan, should I choose to become a member. Elation!
They have an upcoming meditation on Sunday morning, and I’m considering going. It’s not far from where I live. Downside, I get very nervous going to new places by myself (nobody is willing to go with me. Sadface.). I hate that awkward feeling of being around a bunch of people I don’t know doing something I’m not accustomed to. New environment. New practice. Shudder.
We’ll see if I can gather up the courage to go this Sunday. Wish me luck!