For the modern Buddhist, meditation offers the promise of inner peace.
Today, the practice of clearing one's mind is considered a useful tool among Buddhists and non-Buddhists.
In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, the Parbawatiya Kadampa Buddhist Center, based in Safety Harbor, offers weekly meditation courses with topics ranging from the art of compassion to reducing stress.
The center teaches the New Kadampa Tradition, a form of Buddhism founded by the venerable Tibetan monk Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the 1970s, which focuses on achieving personal enlightenment as well as helping others on the path.
In Tampa, classes meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays at the Tampa Museum of Art, 121 Gasparilla Plaza; from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the Metro Wellness Center, 1315 E Seventh Ave.; and from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Achievement and Relaxation Center, 815 S Rome Ave.
Classes are $10 each with themes running for six-week intervals.
Also, a foundation program class for advanced students meets from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays at Holistic Health Haven, 400 E Palm Ave.
I spoke to Cate White, 58, an education coordinator for the center and Lutz resident, about the benefits of zoning in instead of out.
What is the purpose of meditation?
To help people have a more peaceful mind and feel happier.
How has the practice changed your life?
A few years ago I was dealing with a lot of stress raising a teenager. Beginning meditation helped me work through those issues, to relax and not be so reactive, which gave me greater peace of mind. Things turned out well because I was able to relax.
Now, Buddhism has a huge impact on my daily life. It helps me deal with people in a more positive way. I am less angry, complain less and am less whiny. I am more positive in general. It is helpful at home and at work, where I work with people a lot people because I am a nurse.
With the NKT tradition, the difference is that it is more than just helping oneself achieve success on the path. We are taught to help others as well.
How can someone become a member at the center?
Similar to how people at a church tithe, people can join the center and then pay a monthly sponsorship fee. I attended courses for a couple years before becoming a Buddhist.
The venter's resident teacher, Kelsang Chokyan, is currently in the United Kingdom for the NKT international Summer Festival. Have you ever attended the event?
I have. We always have the option to attend. Our main temple is in England, so the summer festival is there and people come from all over the world to learn and grow. The festivals are really exciting and motivating. Everyone there is happy and relaxed. Everyone is kind to one another. That's what it is all about.
For additional information on the Parbawatiya Kadampa Buddhist Center visit meditationin tampabay.org.
Contact Sarah Whitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.