“If you are unwilling to give peace and kindness then you may leave,” said Lora Sloan, a clinical psychologist and one of the instructors of buddhist meditation and other meditation classes in the Lotus Meditation Center.
Sloan said they accept all religions and no one necessarily has to be Buddhist, they just expect people to bring peace and kindness with them.
“The Sitting and Walking Meditation: The Values of the Buddhist Tradition” was held Sat., Jan. 28 in the Lotus Meditation Center attached to the former office of international programs.
Slowly, the building and it’s programs are being evacuated because the building, given as a gift to the university, is being torn down. This news is heartbreaking for all the people affiliated with the Lotus Meditation Center.
Their spacious and peaceful home will be torn down within the year. The group will be forced to move in to Swanson Hall’s basement.
The session started with an emphasis on finding peace, love, acceptance and generosity. These are some of the values of the Buddhist religion. The group sat on a cushion on the floor or bench.
Sloan taught the group how to comfortably sit, using the pillows to their advantage. Sloan invited the group to close their eyes. She instructed the group to not let their minds wander, to be present in the moment.
She asked for each person to “use your breath as an anchor.” Meaning, when the mind starts to make up stories, or starts to think of the past or future, focus on your breathing to bring yourself back to the present.
During the walking meditation, the group focused on each individual step. Making sure they feel the carpet beneath their feet and the way their toes curl while they walk.
Within Buddhism, meditation can be done at any time of the day. It isn’t necessary to put yourself in a quiet room with relaxing music, like we typically imagine with the word “meditation.” Just keeping your mind in the present while you walk or drive, not letting your mind wander, is a way to meditate.
Sloan emphasized that Buddhists concentrate on the present and in the now. They are not interested in being anywhere other than where they are. Sloan explained how when people walk, talk, drive and sit in their day to day lives, they don’t pay attention to where they are in that moment.
Buddhists try their best to avoid this and always keep their minds on the present. The group, with eyes closed, focused on the present and letting go of the past.
Toward the end of the sitting meditation, Sloan instructed the group to wish love and acceptance upon themselves, those close to them, people surrounding the place they live, difficult people and every being in our world. Buddhists value this form of thinking and practice wishing that upon other people without knowing them or their values. The Buddhist tradition focuses on making their world a more caring place and it all starts from within.
Shelby Johnson is the features editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]