Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.-Steve Jobs
2011 was the worst year of my life. I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer and four weeks later my mother suddenly passed away.
These events plunged me into a deep depression as I was mourning her death and facing my mortality.
Instead of medicating myself, I decided to begin meditating to help me get through the feelings of grief and hopelessness.
I found several places in Charlotte to help me develop a consistent and productive meditation practice.
Below are a list of classes/groups that I highly recommend.
The Charlotte Center for Mindfulness: This a community based meditation group located in the Plaza Midwood area. It is a smaller (but growing) group led by Lindsay Bridges, MD who is a Mindful Schools Certified teacher. The group meets Tuesday evening from 7-8pm and Wednesday morning from 9 – 10:30AM. I attended last night (3/28/18) for the first time and enjoyed the 25 minute mediation and lively discussion afterward. The group is friendly and welcoming and I plan on attending the next meeting.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): This class is an 8 week program held at CMC-Mercy. It is an excellent introduction to mindfulness meditation based on the works of Jon Kabbat Zin. The teacher, Lindsay Bridges , was friendly and knowledgeable. The class focuses on learning mindfulness techniques and is not religious. Highly Recommended.
Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte: An larger group that meets every Wednesday at 7PM to meditate and discuss the practice of mindfulness. Donations accepted.
The Vajradhara Mahayana Buddhist Center: Run by a Scottish Buddhist monk named Tilopa. This group is based on the New Kadampa Tradition. They meet for meditation every Tuesday which includes discussions about Buddhism. The focus is more on developing a Buddhist practice and the class is somewhat religious. However, I found the talks by Tilopa to be very helpful.
Charlotte Meditation: Personalized meditation practice by Guru Ranjit Deora who teaches meditation techniques to reduce anxiety and fear. I met with him after my Cancer diagnosis for 8 weeks and it made a huge difference to my state of mind and anxiety levels. He also has a group Laughter Yoga class on Meetup.
Charlotte Community of Mindfulness : Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and supported by local Dharma Teacher Leslie Rawls, the Charlotte Community of Mindfulness is a small group of friends who study and practice the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness and meditation. I have not attended any of the meetings yet.
Charlotte Buddhist Vihara : Run by a Buddhist Nun and based on the Tibetan Theravada Tradition. This is my favorite group so far! They are a very friendly and the talks are often very inspiring and helpful. The group usually sits in silence for 30 minutes followed by a Dhamma Talk. From their website: “They are “bhikkhunis”: fully-ordained Buddhist clergy, or you could say monks or female-monks (nuns). They do not try to convert people to Buddhism, and teach only if asked. They share their skills with the community, always free of charge.”
Charlotte Zen Meditation Society : A very kind and friendly group of people. First timers will usually get a 30 minute instruction by one of the members. They are very generous with their time and give printed handouts on Zen meditation. This group is based on the Japanese Zen Tradition where you meditate facing a wall with your eyes slightly open. From their website: “The Charlotte Zen Meditation Society, in existence since about 1990, is a group of Soto Zen lay practitioners who gather weekly for sitting and walking meditation, readings, and discussion of the practice of Zen”. They have a Sunday night sitting and walking meditation followed by a discussion.