Much research has shown that meditation is one of the very best ways to cultivate the brain states of self-awareness, calm and inner peace, lovingkindness, mindfulness, and happiness – as well as strengthen the immune system and nurture other health benefits.
So if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are interested in meditation, please consider the Wednesday evening gathering in San Rafael that I lead (with occasional guest teachers). There are usually several dozen people, with a nice mixture of seasoned meditators and people with less experience, all in an atmosphere that is friendly and focused. Newcomers are always welcome.
“Early-bird” meditation begins at 6:45 pm with formal instruction at 7:00, break at 7:30, and talk and discussion from 7:40 – 8:30. We meet at the Veritas Interfaith Center at Dominican University (directions below). It’s really fine to come after 6:45 – any meditation is better than none at all! – but please: if you arrive after we begin meditating, come up the stairs quietly (which are next to the front room) and find a chair in the large hallway outside the front room to support the silence of others. (If you like to sit on a cushion on the floor, please bring that, and there is room in the front.) Out of consideration for others with chemical sensitivities, please do not wear scented products.
Our approach is Buddhist – though you certainly don’t need to be “Buddhist” to come and get value, nor do you need any prior experience with meditation. While our “home base” is the Vipassana tradition, we’re respectful, friendly, and inclusive toward Zen and Tibetan approaches.
These teachings are offered freely, at no charge. And if you like, you may wish to participate in the age-old practice of generosity through making an offering – called “dana” – to defray the costs of the sitting group and support its teacher.
I began meditating in 1974 and have trained in several traditions. Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California is a spiritual home for me; it is grounded in the Theravadan (vipassana) wing of Buddhism – based on the original teachings of the Buddha – and it has a refreshing openness to other influences, including psychology and neuroscience.
I’ve taught meditation for many years, and have also graduated from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program. I have found meditation to be for mental health what aerobic exercise is for physical health: a fantastic support. My major teachers have included Christina Feldman and Gil Fronsdal, with an emphasis on wholeheartedness and steadiness of mind in the trenches of householder life.
For more information, you could listen to a recent talk or look through some related writings. Also check out the Facebook group, “San Rafael Meditation,” for updates, ridesharing, and other information. A great resource for mindfulness and other Buddhist teachings is Satipatthana, as well as the chapters on attention in my own book, Buddha’s Brain.
One of the best ways to support regular meditation is to participate in a regular sitting group. I hope you will join us!
Directions to Veritas Interfaith Center at Dominican University
Drive to Grand and Acacia in San Rafael, near Dominican, then turn onto Acacia and follow it through the university to its end where there is a stop sign. Turn right on Magnolia and go straight until the road requires either a right or left turn. Go straight into a driveway with two stone pillars on either side of the driveway, curving up toward a large Victorian mansion, and veer left into the parking lot at the foot of the mansion. Follow a path to the right to enter the building; the chapel is on the ground floor diagonally left from the front door to the mansion.
Parking can be a little tight at Dominican, so it could help to arrive early, before meditation begins at 6:45. The lot that usually has many open spaces is at the intersection of Grand and Acacia, about half a mile from the Veritas Interfaith Center, with a pleasant walk through the campus.
You can also park in the large lot near the Veritas Interfaith Center (though often full), or across the street in the unrestricted spaces in the lot to the side of Caleruega Hall.
Near Pennafort residence hall, these spaces are available: 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 16, plus you can park in the three spaces labeled “Bookstore / 10 minute parking.”
Persevere with parking, and your efforts will be rewarded!