We hope you find everything you need here to orient you to the general activities and the weekly evening meditation gatherings (also called "sanghas") of the Florida Community of Mindfulness (FCM) held in Tampa, Naples or our other Florida locations . For those interested in our mindfulness meditation groups, you are warmly invited to join us for Newcomers Orientation, normally offered on the last gathering of each month, about an hour before sangha begins. Please note that you are not required to attend an orientation before sitting with us. Just come a little early and ask the person in charge for a quick orientation. Sanghas meet on different days, so please click the link for the one you plan to attend - Naples, Tampa, St. Petersburg - or Other Florida Sanghas - for contact information and that group's weekly meeting time, location, and other details.
Please join us at a weekly meditation gathering
We welcome everyone to our meetings who is interested in learning about mindful living, engaged Buddhism, or pursuing a meditation practice. We do not require that you have a particular religious affiliation; we only ask that you have the desire to learn about the practices of mindfulness. It is our hope that you will find FCM to be a supportive and nurturing place, assisting you in your efforts to live a mindful and awakened life.
The following guidelines provide a general idea of the format and practice activities of our weekly sangha meetings. Each of the sanghas offers a monthly orientation for newcomers, as described at the above links.
Once you have attended an orientation and/or introduced yourself to the facilitator at your first sangha gathering, you will see that we enter quietly and take our seats, simply observing our breath to calm our minds. Although the local sanghas vary somewhat in format, all have sitting and walking meditation periods each week as described below and usually a Dharma talk or discussion.
Sitting meditation – The bell will sound three times to begin the meditation session. Cushions, benches, and chairs are available for use during the session. While the use of traditional cushions is encouraged, it is most important to achieve a stable and comfortable posture that you can maintain for the sitting period. The bell will sound once to signal the end of the session.
During sitting meditation focus your attention on your breath, following its natural rising and falling, and follow any guided meditation. When you notice that you have become distracted, simply return your attention to your breath, gently and unhurriedly. If you have difficulty remaining concentrated, you can count your breaths, from one to 10 and back to one, starting the count over again each time you find you have become distracted.
Walking meditation – A small bell will sound once to signal the start of walking meditation. Rise and follow the direction of the walking meditation line. A small bell may sound during the walking, when we stop and observe three breaths before continuing. After one or two rounds, we return and stand in front of our cushions or chairs. We bow with one sound of the bell and return to sitting postures.
Please arrive 10 minutes before the session begins. If you need to leave early, please exit quietly between activities.
What Is Mindfulness?
The core of our practice and tradition is mindfulness of the body and its breath. For the beginner (and we are all beginners!), the best way to establish mindfulness is by concentrating on the body as it breathes. Following the breath builds concentration, which is essential for calming and stabilizing the body and mind. In our tradition, this is the foundational meditation we do on the cushion during sitting practice: we follow and enjoy our breath.
When you sit, be present to each moment and not lost in thought, thinking about the past or the future, problems or goals. When you notice that you are carried away by your thoughts, observe that without judgment and let it be, neither trying to stop it nor running off with it. Then return to your breath, and stay with it as long as possible. At least 20 minutes a day of sitting meditation is recommended to help us grow in mindfulness, calmness, and equanimity.
Eventually we learn that we carry our "cushion" everywhere we go, that everything we do is an opportunity for practice, as mindfulness permeates our daily lives. We aspire to maintain mindfulness throughout every day in every activity. Our breath is always available to us as our anchor, every moment of every day, during any activity, and particularly when we are feeling distracted or distressed.
The Florida Community of Mindfulness provides a "home" where people can come to learn and practice the art of mindful living. As a nurturing and supportive practice community in the Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, FCM offers teachings in mindfulness, instruction and support in meditation, interest-based discussion groups, classes in the traditions and practices of Buddhism and mindfulness, retreats, intensive practice periods, and special events.
Teachings offered by our Dharma teacher Fred Eppsteiner are open to all practitioners and focus on mindful living, self-awareness, compassion in relationships, and mind-body awareness through connecting with our breathing. Throughout each gathering, we employ the practices of deep listening and of loving, mindful speech.
For More Information ...More information about FCM, our teacher, and practice opportunities offered is available here on our website. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to speak with someone about our community.