Shambhala Center FAQ

Will meditation help with stress?
Yes, at some point. Our tradition is not a “quick fix” but certainly the aim is to discover our innate settled mind and not impose calm from outside.

What can I expect when I go to the center?
The first thing you might notice is that everyone takes their shoes off in the entryway. This is because shoes are not worn in the shrine room (meditation hall) for the practical reason of comfort and cleanliness. Simply come in and introduce yourself to someone—we will take care of the rest.

What is meditation?
Meditation is simply placing our mind on an object and learning how to keep it there so that it doesn’t stray: learning to stay in the present moment. It could be an object, a mantra, a visualization, and in shamatha practice it is the breath.

What is shamatha?
Shamatha can be translated as calm abiding and that is the name of the meditation practice that we do. It is often referred to as “sitting practice”.

How often should I practice?
It is recommended to have a daily practice. Through practice we are strengthening our ability to stay in the present moment. Like going to the gym, if we want to become stronger, frequent workouts are needed—once a week will not do it.

What is mindfulness and awareness?
Through practice we are cultivating our innate ability to pay attention and be present (mindfulness) and to know when we have strayed from the present (awareness). Awareness also shows us what pulled us away from the moment and in doing that we learn our habits of how we escape now.

How much does this cost?
Meditation instruction is always free, as are weekly practice sessions. We do charge for classes and always appreciate donations.

How is the center supported?
We own our building and we rely on membership dues, donations, and revenue from classes to cover mortgage, utilities, and other operating expenses. If you are interested in becoming a member, please inquire about it. We would love to have you be a part of Shambhala. Please understand that you may take advantage of activities at the center, without becoming a member.

What does it mean to be a member?
Being a member is a commitment to regular monetary donations practicing and studying, and volunteering when able.

Do I have to be a Buddhist in order to practice?
NO! Shamatha (mindfulness meditation) can be done by anyone, regardless of what spiritual path they follow. Simply put, it is a practice that allows us to be more prepared for deep spiritual practice and exploration of teachings.

Some terms you may hear people use:

What does Shambhala mean?
Sometimes it is referred to as place of peace. It points to a mythical realm where everyone is working toward enlightenment.

What is enlightenment/nirvana?
Enlightenment is also called “awakening”, “waking up” and it refers to the experience of being completely open, present, in touch with our heart and innate wisdom, with no filters. Our path is a process of seeing what filters we create and operate by, allowing them to fall to the wayside. It is a gradual process, although we can certainly have glimpses of enlightenment along the way.

What is ego?
You will hear this referred to quite often, in reading and discussions. Ego, in this tradition, is any thought process that we hold on to and which is a barrier to truly experiencing reality.

What is basic goodness?
Basic goodness is our innate quality of kindness, wisdom, that we all possess and work to bring to the surface through practice and study.

What is “becoming friends with ourself”?
We often talk about this and it means that we learn to be as kind and understanding with whatever we discover in our mind (the good bad, and ugly) as we would appreciate our best friend’s strengths and flaws. This attitude allows us to experience our mind honestly, seeing our moments of enlightenment as well as confusion.

What is samsara?
Samsara is the continual cycle of creating and re-creating ego in order to try to find happiness. It doesn’t work. When we finally learn to give up this activity, freedom from samsara is possible.

What are Shambhala Training levels?
As much as is feasible, we offer a series of 5 weekend programs that bring all of the wisdom of the Buddhist teachings into our daily lives. Meditation instruction is provided and there is ample time to do the practice, over the course of the weekend. These courses have a fee to participate.

What are other courses available?
In Everyday Life Series (5 courses each 5 weeks long, meeting one evening a week), Basic Goodness Series (3 courses each 6 weeks long, meeting one evening a week).
Both series include meditation instruction and time to practice each evening. These courses each have a fee to participate.

What is “warriorship”?
A warrior is “above war” and we talk of training in acquiring weapons (tools) to live our life in the most open, kind, generous way.