How to find a meditation or Buddhist community?
December 15, 2020 10:04 PM   Subscribe

I started meditating during the pandemic and have found it valuable. I'm interested in going farther and would like to find a meditation class or community to join. I'd also like to learn about Buddhism and possibly become Buddhist. I live in Colorado where the Shambhala community is popular. I was looking at their classes until I found out about their sexual assault and abuse problems. Where do I look next?

After reading about Shambhala's decisions to protect abusers there is just no way I could do anything with them. But they're the face of meditation here, making it hard to search for other options.

I'm a beginner. I've been meditating on my own for a few months. I don't know much about Buddhism but am interested in learning. I keep reading that having a meditation community or teacher is helpful. Since I'm not going to do anything in-person for a while I could so an online class or group. But which one? And being able to meet other people eventually would be good.

What would you suggest?

(Anonymous because I'm not ready to discuss a possible religious conversion with people here I know IRL.)
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (12 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure whether they're running during the pandemic, but going to a 10-day Vipassana retreat may be a good place to start if you're interested specifically in meditation. They're free and offer a deep dive into Vipassana meditation. They don't try to indoctrinate you in Buddhist philosophy, but they teach you the meditation practice and strictly enforce total silence for ten days.

There are many other forms of Buddhism to consider. Here's a decent overview of the different kinds. I'm most familiar with Soka-Gakkai Buddhism, where the practitioners chant instead of meditating (though some would say that chanting is a form of meditation). They're pretty popular internationally and seem to have a presence in Colorado. You could probably call them and get introduced to their community online.
posted by saltypup at 10:36 PM on December 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Insight Meditation Center in the Bay Area has a wonderful daily meditation on YouTube, community meetings on Zoom, and an associated retreat center. In these times when sits have gone online, I’ve also enjoyed New York Insight and LA Insight.
posted by matildaben at 11:06 PM on December 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

that ^^^ seems right, during the plague. Colorado College has an open meditation weekly that was good - but not right now.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:36 AM on December 16, 2020

There are many flavors of Buddhism and so many kinds of teachers and communities that it can be hard when you're just getting started. My advice would be to try many until you find a style and group that feels right for you and see where that takes you.

Many Zen communities are offering teachings online. There are a lot of great teachers out there and this list is only folks I'm personally familiar with.

Zen Mountain Monastery (this is my home sangha - talks are also shared on their site)
Beacon Zen (Tenku Ruff is an excellent teacher - she has videos on YT that would give you a sense of her style)
New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care
Village Zendo
posted by kokaku at 4:41 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of in this same boat, I have no interest in Buddhism as a religion but as a philosophy or source of insight it's fantastic.

Angel City Zen Center in LA does regular Zoom things. I'm more Vipassana than Zen but I've found Brad Warner's Youtube videos useful and found ACZC through him.

I very highly recommend the Secular Buddhism podcast and also the Insight Hour with Joseph Goldstein which is recordings of his Dharma talks.

Reddit's /r/meditation is a helpful bunch. There's an /r/Buddhism as well but I haven't hung out there.
posted by Awfki at 5:35 AM on December 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I forgot to add in angel kyodo williams, who is a powerful teacher and community builder
posted by kokaku at 5:41 AM on December 16, 2020

I’ve started attending the most-days daily group meditation hosted by angel Kyodo williams on the liberated life network, and I’ve found it really supportive of my practice without being heavy handed. You might like to try it!
posted by spindrifter at 6:15 AM on December 16, 2020

Semi-self linking, but my dad helps run the Meditation Chapel, which has a completely packed calendar of zoom group meditations and many long-standing and welcoming meditation communities. Some, but definitely not all, are groups with a Christian focus, and many of those are very lightly Christian.
posted by EmilyFlew at 8:18 AM on December 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Both the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock in California have lots of online offerings, ranging from a few hours to week-long retreats. Very accessible to beginners.
posted by daikon at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2020

Buddhist here.

If you want to experience Tibetan Buddhism at all, my sangha, Sakya Monastery of Seattle, livestreams events on YouTube. There's also a repository of videos from past events to check out.

Also, if you follow their FB page, they advertise meditations on Zoom, on Fri nights. That's accessible to beginners.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also, Tibetan Buddhism tends to focus on chanting and teachings and dharma study, rather than just a meditation practice. So, our main practice at Sakya is the Sunday morning Chenrezi service for Compassion, rather than meditation. This may or may not appeak to you, but wanted to mention it, because lots of USA folks not raised in Buddhist traditions tend to think that Buddhism = Meditation, when there's actually many, many facets to the practice.

I originally started out in the Insight tradition, and while I'm grateful for it, I needed something a bit more dynamic. So, Sakya it is. Feel free to msg me if you have questions!
posted by spinifex23 at 11:07 AM on December 16, 2020

I'm part of Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and they stream lots of things and have lots of online meditation groups right now. Looks like they have a Colorado affiliate:

I have found the Insight community to be ethical, and I know at least one teacher who started in the Shambhala tradition (at Naropa), so I think the two traditions are fairly compatible.
posted by missrachael at 11:58 AM on December 16, 2020

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