It's back to the grind and those heartfelt resolutions of yesterweek are already starting to waver. Going for more calm, balance, joyfulness and efficiency this year? Learning to sit still may be what will put it all in motion. Check out this range of local meditation drop-in and series classes, some with dharma talks included, and for those wanting more, a ten-day silent intensive course two hours south.
What: Drop-in meditation classes and scheduled weekend retreats
Where: KMC Washington in Ballard (6556 24th Avenue NW) and at off-site locations downtown, in south Seattle, West Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Kirkland, Skagit Valley and Whidbey Island
When: Throughout the week; check schedule here
Cost: Varies by class/retreat; student and senior pricing available
Description of center/technique: Based in Seattle for more than 20 years, KMC Washington is one of 1,100 Kadampa centers worldwide teaching meditation and modern Buddhism. Approximately one hour long, drop-in classes either teach meditation primarily (Sunday mornings in Ballard, Mondays at lunchtime in Ballard or Tuesdays at lunchtime downtown) or meditation and Buddhist philosophy both (throughout the week, various locations). Beginner meditation CDs are also available in the temple bookstore for home practice.
What: Six-week meditation courses and other programs
When: Both series begin Monday, January 12; register at the first class
Cost: Suggested donation: $90; all welcome regardless of ability to pay
Description of center/technique: Also known as mindfulness meditation, insight comes from a Buddhist tradition and according to the website, it helps participants view life “as a constantly changing process” and supports them in starting to “accept pleasure and pain, fear and joy and all aspects of life with increasing balance and equanimity.”
In addition to six-week meditation series classes, the center also offers two-hour dharma talks, full-day programs on mindfulness and other retreats.
Where: Seattle Shambhala Meditation Center in Madison Valley (3107 E Harrison St.) and off-site in Ballard, Pioneer Square, West Seattle, Edmonds, Redmond, Issaquah and Tacoma
When: Evenings, Sunday through Thursday
Cost: Suggested donations vary by class; center has a “pay what you can afford” policy
Description of center/technique: Named for a mythical kingdom in Central Asia “where people enjoyed harmony, good health and well-being,” Shambhala meditation has a long lineage and a wide community including Pema Chödrön, one of the most well-known Buddhist teachers in the west. The Shambhala teachings strive to help participants live with “fearlessness, gentleness, and intelligence” and enhance “everyday life, work, family and social action with the path of meditation.”
What: 10-day silent residential meditation course
Where: 445 Gore Rd.; Onalaska, WA (approximately 30 minutes from Centralia)
When: Twice a month throughout the year; next two start dates: January 7 and 21
Cost: Free; after completing course, participants can donate if they wish
Description of center/technique: One of India’s oldest meditation techniques, Vipassana means “to see things as they really are” and has been taught for 2,500 years as a "process of self-purification by self-observation." According to the website, “One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness.”
The Northwest Vipassana Center is one of 10 centers in North America and 158 worldwide. Lodging, food and meditation instructions are provided in this intensive silent course (10 days is the minumum length offered for beginners); see daily timetable here (scroll to the bottom) and schedule here. Rideshares from Seattle are available.