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Welcome, Newcomers!


Please join us

If you are interested in Buddhist meditation practice, please join us at a weekly meditation gathering at a location near you. Everyone is warmly welcomed regardless of spiritual affiliation or prior experience. Our Paths of Practice section more fully describes our approach to Dharma study and practice based on whether you are just beginning to explore mindfulness, have some experience and wish to deepen your practice, or are an experienced practitioner seeking more advanced teachings.

Most locations offer an optional Newcomer’s Orientation to make your visit as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. After meditation, please join us for tea so we can get acquainted. There is no charge. However, in the practice of generosity, optional and individual donations placed in the "dana" basket are appreciated.

Weekly meditations are held in the following communities. For more information regarding meeting times and dates, and orientation sessions, please click here.

Newcomers in the Tampa Bay area may find two ongoing programs to be of particular benefit: FCM's four-week class series "Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation" (visit our Programs/Classes for more information and upcoming class dates), and our weekly Wednesday Evening "Meditations for Mindful Living."


In addition to weekly meditation, we offer many other opportunities to join with our community to deepen your practice of mindfulness. Some examples are monthly Days of Mindfulness, classes and workshops, group work meditation, and social activities, just to name a few. Please check our Calendar for information about upcoming events, as well as additional information provided in this Program section.

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to know before I come to a weekly meditation session?

You will be greeted at the door by a practitioner who will be happy to answer any questions you have in order to feel comfortable. If you need help getting settled in the meditation hall, please ask.  It is very important to us that newcomers feel welcome and at ease. 

Meditation mats, cushions and chairs are provided for everyone. You are welcome to sit wherever you like. Choose a seat and a position that you can hold comfortably for 30 minutes.  If you have questions about sitting and posture, please ask the greeter to assist you at the end of the session.

The session will include 30 minutes of sitting meditation followed by a round of silent walking meditation. There may or not be a short chanting service led by the Bellmaster, and then a Dharma talk and discussion will be led the teacher, Fred Eppsteiner or a senior student. If tea is offered after the session in the location where you are attending, you are cordially invited to come and get acquainted.

Shoes are removed before entering the meditation hall. Chairs, mats, and meditation cushions are customarily available for sitting, although you may wish to bring your own zafu or meditation bench.

We ask that all who join us observe a few points of meditation hall "etiquette" to help make everyone's experience comfortable and meaningful:

  • Please leave all cell phones and other personal items in the foyer or in your car.
  • Food or beverages are not permitted in the meditation hall. Water can be left in the foyer outside of the main hall.
  • In respect of some people's allergies and sensitivities, please don’t wear any scented cosmetics, even those called “natural” scents. 
  • Our meditation center and other gathering locations are non-smoking, and we ask smokers to please ensure that smoking "aromas" are not carried into the meditation hall with them. 

To learn more about what you can expect, and about orientation sessions, please visit the Sangha page.

What is the Florida Community of Mindfulness?

The Florida Community of Mindfulness (FCM) is a nurturing and supportive practice community in the Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. FCM provides a "home" where people can train in the Buddhist path of understanding and love with a compassionate, caring community.

What is "mindfulness"?

Mindfulness, which is the heart of Buddhist meditation practice, is the capacity to see things clearly just as they are. It is our ability to be awake, aware and authentically present for ourselves, and others. Thich Nhat Hanh describes mindfulness as the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment. Eventually, as our practice deepens, mindfulness becomes a way of life, supporting and guiding us throughout every day.

What is the purpose of meditation?

The practice of meditation not only calms and stabilizes the body/mind, but it also develops our capacity for concentration calmness, equanimity and insight. Insight, in turn, frees us from fear and allows us to have more happiness, ease and satisfaction in life.

How do we meditate?

We sit quietly and follow our breath, present to each moment just as it is right now.  We don’t think about the past or the future; we don’t think about our problems or what we are trying to achieve.  When the mind wanders we just notice it without judgment, and simply return to following the breath. Our breath is always available as an anchor, every moment of every day, during any activity, and we rely on it particularly when we are distracted or distressed.

Why do we honor the Buddha? 

The Buddha is the one who shows us the way in this life. Shakyamuni Buddha is the historical person who lived 2600 years ago. When we honor the Buddha, we honor all our ancestral teachers, and the awakened nature in all beings.

What is a "Sangha"?  

A sangha is a community of supportive, dedicated friends who practice the Dharma together in friendship, harmony and joy.  The spiritual community, flowing together as a river has existed as a cornerstone of practice since the time of the Buddha.

What is the "Dharma"? 

The word "Dharma" refers to the body of teachings and practices in the Buddhist tradition.

What are the "Three Jewels"? 

In the Buddhist tradition, the Three Jewels in which we take refuge are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. 

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