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! – and just enter the room quietly. Out of consideration for others with chemical sensitivities, please do not wear scented products.
The room has both sturdy chairs with cushioned bottoms and no arms as well as many big, flat cushions and zafus. People are also welcome to bring a backjack or special cushion support, or to lie down in the back of the room. It’s a priority for us that people be supported and comfortable.
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 household 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!