Guidance for Meditating with the Florida Community of Mindfulness
We are happy that you are exploring or have begun to sit with us at one of our Florida Community of Mindfulness (FCM) practice communities. Whether you are brand new to meditation or have experience sitting with other groups, possibly in similar or different traditions, it will be helpful for you to learn about what to expect when you begin to sit with an FCM practice center. Although each FCM practice center follows its own schedule, the following activities are generally practiced in each of our weekly meditation meetings. Please be assured that while this may seem to be alot of information, all activities are gently guided so just relax and follow the flow of the meditation.
Cushions, benches, and chairs are available for sitting. While many people sit on cushions, it is most important to find a stable posture that you can hold comfortably for the entire sitting period, which lasts 30 minutes.
After everyone is seated, the Bellmaster invites the large bell to sound three times to signal the beginning of meditation. A member may offer an opening chant along with the bells.
Often there is a guided meditation to bring us into the present moment and help us become established in meditation.
Briefly, during sitting meditation we are invited to focus attention on the breath, simply following its natural rising and falling without trying to change it at all. When we notice that we have become distracted, we simply return our attention gently to the breath. If we have difficulty concentrating, we can silently count our breaths, from one to ten and back to one, starting the count over again each time we find ourselves distracted. Returning again and again from distraction to focus on the breath is a key part of meditation practice.
After 30 minutes of meditation, the Bellmaster will invite the bell to sound one time to signal the end of the sitting meditation period. At the sound of the bell, many people enjoy bowing silently in respect before they stretch their legs and rise for walking meditation.
The Bellmaster invites a small bell to sound one time to signal the start of walking meditation and then gives instructions for enjoying this wonderful meditation. We walk slowly, mindfully, in single file around the meditation hall. It is important to observe that this is group walking, where we flow as a river, keeping an arms-length distance from the person in front of us and closing any gaps that may open. We may think the pace is too slow; we may think the pace is too fast. Simply watch and let go of those thoughts and walk selflessly, with the flow of the group!
If a small bell sounds during walking, it is an invitation to stop walking and simply enjoy the in-breath and the out-breath. When the bell sounds again that signals that it is time to resume walking meditation until we arrive back at our cushion or chair. People who enjoy bowing may do so at the sound of the bell, which signals the end of walking meditation.
Many FCM locations enjoy chanting and recitations as part of their sangha services. There are booklets containing text so everyone can participate.
Dharma Talk & Discussion
Teachings offered by our Dharma teacher Fred Eppsteiner cover all aspects of Buddhist teaching as they relate to daily life. Senior practitioners will often lead specific discussions on topics selected for FCM's current focuses of practice. Each talk or discussion, through the practices of deep listening, deep sharing and skillful means is designed to meet the specific needs of the listeners and to be appropriate to the situation in which it is given.
Arriving & Leaving
If possible, please arrive 10 minutes early so you don’t have to hurry. Someone will be there to greet you and help you feel at home. If you need to leave early, please slip out quietly in between activities. Please leave cell phones and other personal items at home or in your car. Beverage bottles can be left in the foyer; please do not bring them into the Meditation Hall.
Entering & Exiting The Meditation Hall
The Meditation Hall is a beautiful, serene space. Before entering we take off our shoes and leave them on a rack outside the door of the meditation hall, symbolically leaving the cares of the day behind. We enter the Meditation Hall respectfully, silently, enjoying the stillness.
Many people enjoy placing their hands together in a silent bow as they enter and exit the hall, acknowledging the quiet place in each of us that calls us to meditation.
As we sit quietly, we come into the present moment, establish ourselves in our body and begin following our in-breath and out-breath to help calm and focus our minds.