The St. Louis Wellness Center is home to Shambhala-St. Louis. We are one of the many groups in the world-wide Shambhala Buddhist Community, offering meditation practice and instruction in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. At the Wellness Center, we train our minds with shamatha practice, the most simple form of sitting meditation. Shamatha is a Sanskrit word that means "peacefully abiding."
These meditation sessions are open to everyone, whether you have experience with meditation or not. If you are interested in learning what your own mind is, how it works, and how it can be a friend to you, please join us! You may drop into the open sitting times anytime you would like, the sessions are by donation. For new meditators please arrive by 11:00.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is a way to make the mind more stable and clear. It is for everyone who has noticed their minds are chaotic or unsettled and who wish for a deeper understanding of their experiences. From our point of view, meditation is not purely a Buddhist practice; it is a practice anyone can do and can benefit all. Meditation practice is for everyone, regardless of their experience or religious affiliation.
Meditation is based on the belief that the natural state of the mind is calm and clear. As such, the practice of meditation provides a way for us to train our mind to settle into this natural state. Often, a first reason for meditating is that we wants to find some freedom from our agitated minds.
HOW DOES MEDITATION WORK?
To understand the mind, we are required to slow down and experience our mind just as it is. In the process, we start to see how our mind works. We see that whatever the mind is focused on—anger, desire, jealousy, or peace—that is what we also will be focused on and what we will experience. Through our meditation practice, we begin to see that we have a choice in the matter: we do not have to act on every thought. We can abide peacefully in our natural and calm mind state regardless of any unpleasant feelings, thoughts, or experiences. It is the Shambhala view that every human being has a fundamental nature of goodness, warmth, and intelligence and that this nature is available to us at all times and in all situations. Meditation practice allows us to come back to our true nature and to begin living from this natural state of peaceful abiding. We come to acknowledge our natural state through the practices of meditation, awareness, and mindfulness. This natural state can be further developed in daily life, so that it radiates out to family, friends, community, and society.
CAN I BENEFIT FROM MEDITATION?
YES! Everyone can benefit from meditation. It is helpful for stress reduction, addiction, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts and worry, eating disorders, general discontent and most other human conditions you can think of. It is helpful to anyone who has a sincere interest in learning to flow with the human experience and in living with an open heart and open mind.
For more information please contact Ellen Ranney by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 314-973-3620. Visit us online at www.stlouis.shambhala.org.
"We don't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts."
The essence of warriorship, or the essence of human bravery, is refusing to give up on anyone or anything. We can never say that we are simply falling to pieces or that anyone else is, and we can never say that about the world either. Within our lifetime there will be great problems in the world, but let us make sure that within our lifetime no disasters happen. We can prevent them. It is up to us. We can save the world from destruction, to begin with. That is why Shambhala vision exists. It is a centuries-old idea: by serving this world, we can save it. But saving the world is not enough. We have to work to build an enlightened human society as well. – Chögyam Trungpa
Obstacles and challenges may arise, but they do not reduce the enlightened qualities we have at our disposal. – The Kongma Sakyong
As the tumultuous Year of the Monkey draws to a close and the Year of the Bird approaches, with its possibility of discipline and integrity, we on the Kalapa Council feel that it is a good moment to reflect on our time and its relevance for Shambhala vision.
This has been a period marked with displacement, violence, racism, misogyny, political fragmentation, increased threats to the ecosystem, and intensifying nationalisms. It is also a period of tremendous heart and possibility. We feel that it is important for you to know that members of the Kalapa Council are deeply aware and concerned, and are working to rouse our community to the creative and potent manifestation that is the very reason for our existence.
As the world seems to grow darker and great challenges are upon us, we must, as a lineage of warriors committed to establishing enlightened society, sense what is happening and respond with skill. Our confidence, now more than ever, is that every human being, and society itself, are fundamentally good, wise, and strong. As the Druk Sakyong and the Kongma Sakyong said, preventing disasters and saving the world is not enough, we must work to build an enlightened human society and we have the enlightened qualities to do this. Arising from kindness, vision, wisdom, and loyalty, this is a creative process that fulfills a human life.
Here are some immediate possibilities to manifest enlightened society today:
We warriors must see that our practices, path, and teachings are meant for this time. Discovering the unshakable mind of meditative awareness, learning to be comfortable with uncertainty, not hiding from the broken heart of sadness, and raising powerful windhorse are all methods to face our dark age. We can be sad, alive, vibrant, fearless, and inspired—no matter what. The Shambhalaterma teachings are the spiritual-activist’s skillful means to be fully human and to respond to the needs of the world. It is time to rely more fully on their power.
We warriors must stand up against and steadfastly resist divisive acts that prey upon vulnerable, oppressed, or minority communities. We aspire for our centers and households to be safe and welcoming refuges for all, regardless of religious or national background, gender identification, race, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Now is the time to do the hard personal and collective work needed to create a culture that is so rooted in the basic goodness of all that prejudice and bias may dissolve completely.
We warriors must take seriously our responsibility to protect the earth. It is a time to face the reality of ecological destruction and climate change with open eyes. We aspire for Shambhala centers and programs to look at their ecological impact, attend to where we source food and energy, and be mindful of our waste. We aspire to be a force for sustainability, to divest from carbon and other forms of pollution, and to prevent the destruction of species and habitats. Now is the time to create a society with sustainable practices rooted in a felt-experience of drala and sacred world.
We warriors must acknowledge both the possibilities and the limits of existing political, economic, and media systems. We aspire for Shambhala to use and develop creative means and sacred forms of conflict resolution and political deliberation, to experiment with new economic models, and to work with the power of language and symbolism with skillful compassion. Now is the time to create a society that unites the sacred and secular, expressing wisdom and goodness in our political, economic, and communicative forms.
We warriors must be vigilant activists for peace. We aspire for Shambhala to engage conflict with the mind of meditation, to create safe spaces for open and genuine conversations and deep listening, and to boldly carry these insights and capacities into our wider communities. Now is the time to manifest the beauty, gentleness, and kindness of our tender human hearts in social forms. The world is longing for such examples.
We warriors must understand that the work to establish, maintain, and support our community and households is the very cultural heart of Shambhala. What may appear to be an "inward facing" effort to just keep our centers going is a brave act of cultural creation in a world that tends to undervalue community. Now is the time to strengthen community and the fabric of our everyday relationships by deepening our conversations and coming together for all our celebrations, group practices and cultural gatherings. It is time to slow down, and to support and be available to one another beyond scheduled programs.
With all of the above, we start where we are, with the opportunities to practice enlightened society in our centers, programs, events, and households. Let each hub of our global community be a living laboratory to cultivate and express human goodness in all aspects of our lives together. Start today, with your home, your center and your city. Aspire to free yourself of habitual busy-ness, self-hatred, assumptions, and judgments to come to the heart of why your Shambhala community exists.
Despite the obstacles and challenges, in fact because of the challenges, it is time to wield our warriorship, magical practices, and powerful community. It is a time to be creative and intelligent. It is a time to see the inseparability of our deepest contemplative experiences and the creation of a good society. Our meditative peace, space, and brilliance are wellsprings of our windhorse to establish Shambhala on earth.
We, the Kalapa Council of Shambhala, look forward to exploring with our leadership and community how to unlock the basic goodness of society. We are stronger together as we rouse ourselves to delight in humanity, to celebrate and trust our hearts, and to never give up on this world. We can thrive in the dark ages by increasing our laughter and sense of humor, by nourishing ourselves with deep practice and loving community, and by fearlessly engaging. We express our confidence with the warrior's action of manifesting Shambhala on earth.
From the vast view of heaven, all is good: flowing in perfect patterns beyond concept. From the practicality of earth, the time is good for wise and compassionate manifestation. For the broken-hearted human warriors between heaven and earth, this is our good moment.
Yours in the Great Eastern Sun Vision,
The Kalapa Council
Kasung Acharya, Minister Mitchell Levy
Chair of the Kalapa Council, Minister Josh Silberstein
Kalapa Acharya, Adam Lobel, Minister of the Practice & Education Pillar
Kasung Kyi Khyap, Jesse Grimes, Minister of the Protection Pillar
Jane Arthur, Minister of the Government Pillar
Robert Reichner, Minister of the Economy Pillar
Sangyum Wendy Friedman, Minister of Culture & Decorum
Chagdzö Kyi Khyap, Minister Connie Brock
Kalapa Envoy to Europe, Minister Christoph Schönherr
Executive Secretary to the Sakyong, Minister David Brown
Chief Legal Counsel, Minister Alex Halpern