Schedule | Protocol
| Mindfulness | Mission
| Location | Thich Nhat
We hope you find everything you need here to orient you to the
Sunday night practice evening at the Washington Mindfulness Community.
You are warmly invited to join us for Newcomers Orientation on
the last Sunday of each month, 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Vihara (But it
is not required to attend an orientation in order to sit with us.
Just come a little early and grab someone who looks like they're
in charge, and get a quick orientation that way).
We invite you to participate with us at whatever level you choose. We
do not require that you have a particular religious affiliation;
we only ask that you have the desire to practice mindfulness. It
is our hope that you will find the Washington Mindfulness Community
a supportive and nurturing place, assisting you in your efforts
to be mindful and awake.
Meditation starts at 6:30 p.m. If you arrive late, you can sit
in the hall outside the double doors, until the bell sounds, ending
the first sitting period, around 7:00. Then the greeter will
invite you to come into the meditation hall for the first walking
meditation. The second sitting period, and walking meditation, will
follow. The front door is locked at 7:30.
6:30-6:55 First sitting meditation
7:00 First walking meditation
7:10-7:25 Second sitting
7:30 Second walking
7:40 Recitation (Five Mindfulness Trainings, Refuge
Chant, or Beginning Anew)
8:00 Announcements (unless the group is small in
which case after Dharma discussion)
8:05 Listen to a portion of an audio tape from Thich
8:25-8:40 Dharma Discussion
8:40-9:00 Social Time (downstairs)
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Protocol for the first half of our evening
The meditation period officially begins when the bell inviter sounds
the big bell three times. During the meditation periods, please
sit facing outward, towards the walls of the meditation hall. You
may sit with eyes open or closed for the sitting meditation periods,
which last 25 minutes.
Please sit quietly, moving only when necessary. Be mindful that
any movement will disturb the settling of your own mind and
will be a distraction to your neighbor as well. Please also be
mindful of the needs of your own body; we do not advocate pain,
we believe in sitting comfortably. Often discomfort will pass
with a few breaths, sometimes adjusting the posture is needed. When
movement is needed please simply do it slowly and mindfully. If
you canít stop coughing, please quietly leave the room to sit on
the outside cushions.
At the end of the 25 minute sitting period, the large bell sounds
one time, at which time you may take a few moments to stretch or
massage our legs. When the small (walking) bell sounds, please
stand and face your cushion, inward towards the center of the room. Another
small bell will sound and we then bow to each other and turn left. The
next bell signals the beginning of walking meditation.
During walking meditation, you are invited to synchronize your
steps with your breath - one step with each inhalation, one step
with each exhalation. Please keep pace with the person in front
of you so there is not a pile up behind you. When you hear the bell,
continue walking without hurry until you reach your own cushion. Then
stand facing your cushion. At the next sound of the bell we
bow to each other and again sit facing outward. The second
sitting period begins as the first.
After the second walking meditation, we finish the first half of
the evening by bowing to the Buddha. We are then greeted by the
bell inviter, who will announce and facilitate the second half of
Protocol for the second half of our evening
We begin with a recitation of the Five Mindfulness
Trainings, the Refuge Chant, or Beginning Anew, all written
by Thich Nhat Hanh. We then have an
opportunity to introduce ourselves and hook up with a ride if needed. Following
that, there is an opportunity for announcements. Then we listen
to a portion of an audio tape of Thich Nhat Hanh, followed by a
Dharma discussion is sharing, from our own experience and heart, reactions
or questions arising from the tape or from our practice. We
then have dharma discussion, which gives us an opportunity to speak
and listen mindfully. If you would like to share, please bow (or
"offer a lotus") to let the group know you wish to speak,
which the group will acknowledge with a bow; when you are finished,
please bow to let the group know you are finished, and the group
again acknowledges this with a bow.
We close with a small bell to bow in gratitude to each other, then a second small bell, bowing in gratitude to the Budda. Then, until 9 p.m. there is an opportunity
to socialize with other practitioners downstairs and to peruse the
literature on the literature table. There you will also find
a library, a donation box, and a signup sheet for getting the newsletter,
or to get on the WMC email announcement
list. We must be out of the building by 9:30, because
the resident monks go to bed at that time.
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The core of our practice and tradition is mindfulness. For the
beginner (and we are all of us beginners!), the best way to establish
mindfulness is by concentrating on the breath. Following the breath
builds concentration, which is essential for mindfulness; it also
helps calm the body and mind. In our tradition, this is essentially
what we do on the cushion during sitting meditation: we follow,
and enjoy, our breath. When you notice that you have become distracted,
simply return your attention to your breath gently and unhurridly.
If you have difficulty remaining concentrated, you can count your
breaths, from 1 to 10 and back to 1, starting the count over again
each time you are distracted.
When you sit, be present to each moment and not be lost in thought,
thinking about the past or the future, problems or goals. When you
notice that you are carried away by your thoughts, notice without
judgement 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 twenty minutes a day of sitting meditation
is recommended in order to help us grow in mindfulness, calm and
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 life. We try to maintain mindfulness as much
as possible throughout every day in every activity. Our breath
is always available to us as our anchor, every moment of every day,
during any activity, particularly when we are feeling distracted
"Enlightenment, peace and joy will not be granted by someone
else. The well is within you, and if we dig deeply in the present
moment, the water will spring forth."
Thich Nhat Hanh
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Mission of the Washington Mindfulness
The Washington Mindfulness Community, formed in 1989, is composed
of men and women inspired by the teachings of Buddhism and of Thich
Nhat Hanh, a contemporary Vietnamese Zen Master, peace activist
The mission of the Community is to nurture mindfulness, love, and
understanding among those who participate in its activities and
in the larger society.
Members come together to meditate, to deepen their understanding
of the practice of mindfulness, to encourage and inspire each other
through dharma discussions and mindful actions, to support each
other through difficult times, and to celebrate the joys and wonders
Recognizing that each person's peace and happiness are interwoven
with the peace and happiness of others, the Washington Mindfulness
Community offers activities that welcome the children, families,
and companions of members. The community also organizes retreats,
lectures, and other public events; supports communities and causes
in accord with the Community's mission; and works with groups that
relieve suffering through compassionate actions.
The WMC is now incorporated as a Maryland non-profit religious
institution, and all gifts are tax-deductible. The governing structure
of the community includes a Practice Council, which makes decisions
impacting community mindfulness practices and community life, and
a Board of Directors.
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Typically, we are hosted on Sunday nights at the Washington
Buddhist Vihara, 5017 16th St. NW, Washington DC (between Farragut
and Gallatin Streets).
For directions, you may call 202-723-0773 (please call between
9 a.m. & 7 p.m. e.s.t.).
Our mailing (and emailing) address:
Washington Mindfulness Community
PO Box 11168, Takoma Park, MD 20913
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