Weekly Practice

All are welcome to join our weekly practice! If you are new to Buddhism, take a look at An Explanation of LAMC for Newcomers.

Getting To Temple

Meetings are held at the Van Hanh Tu (Temple), which is graciously shared with us by the Vietnamese American Buddhist Association of Lansing (V.A.B.A.L.). The Temple is located at 3015 S. Washington Avenue on the southside of Lansing.

Parking is available behind the temple. Additional parking can be found around the corner on Dunlap Street.

Please enter through the back deck and leave your shoes* in breezeway. The door on on left leads to the temple.

*We understand that some practitioners need to wear shoes during walking meditation and wish to make the practice accessible, safe, and comfortable for all. Please bring a pair of shoes or slippers that have not been used outside or, in lieu of that, consider placing disposable covers over your shoes.

Arriving

LAMC meets Wednesdays,  7 – 9 PM, unless otherwise noted. Please visit our Facebook page for weekly announcements about the practice schedule.

We understand that there are times when practitioners can only attend a portion of the weekly practice. Whether arriving late or departing early, please enter and exit the temple with mindfulness–-observing noble silence. To minimize disruption, it is best to enter or exit the Temple during the transition periods between the practices; for example, before sitting meditation starts or immediately after it ends.

Flow of Practice

  • Opening – Reciting Gatha + Offering Incense* + Inviting the Bell
  • Walking Meditation (15 minutes)
  • Sitting Meditation (30 minutes)
  • Dharma Discussion – Sharing readings and experiences about meditation practices and mindfully engaging the world.
  • Closing – Reciting Gatha + Inviting the Bell

Feel free to participate to your level of comfort.

*Due to allergic reactions and sensitivities to fragrance, Sangha “offers” but no longer burns incense as part our opening meditation.

However, incense continues to be used in the Temple at other times, so the fragrance still remains. Please keep this in mind if you plan to attend.*

Breathing

We use conscious breathing to stay present to what is arising in our bodies, minds, and environment. The breath can help us to be solid, calm, centered, and connected.

During walking and sitting meditation, one can enter into meditation by gently following the lovely breath, which sustains us, and mentally repeating:

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”

If you find that you have drifted off to thoughts about the past or future or even a current situation, gently guide your awareness back to the breath.

Bowing

“A lotus for you, A Buddha to Be.”

With one greeting, mindfulness becomes present in both of us as we touch the Buddha with our hearts, not just with our hands. Suddenly, the Buddha in each of us begins to shine, and we are in touch with the present moment.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Bowing is a practice shared by many spiritual/religious traditions. In Buddhism, we bring our hands together at our hearts (forming a “lotus”) and bow to align our body and actions in mindfulness and to offer acknowledgment and respect to those we are greeting.

Dharma Discussion

Following our silent meditation segments, we discuss readings related to living mindfully and practicing meditation. There is no obligation to speak. However, it is hoped that we generate understanding and support from the collective wisdom of the group.

We carry mindfulness into our dharma discussion by practicing loving speech and deep listening:

We bow when we wish to speak. It expresses our intention to speak clearly from the heart with skillful/wise speech that will benefit others (is it necessary, true, well-timed, kind). We are also aware of speaking concisely to allow others time to share their experiences.  

Sangha bows to acknowledge the speaker. This expresses our intention to listen deeply, offering our full awareness toward understanding the one who is sharing without planning a response, while paying attention to what arises in our bodies/minds.

The speaker bows to when they are done sharing. Sangha bows again to the speaker.

Sangha enjoys at least 3 breaths before the next practitioner shares. During this sacred pause we create space to reflect on cultivating loving speech before, during, and after speaking.

Chairs + Cushions

Chairs and cushions for sitting meditation are provided. Practitioners may also bring their own “sit-upons” (blankets, benches, cushions, etc.) to support stability and ease in their posture.

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3 thoughts on “Weekly Practice

  1. Experiencing Mindfulness
    Written by Brad Miller
    Monday, 09 March 2009 10:08

    In September 2008, I was introduced to a mindfulness practice brought to the West by Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. At a three-day Zen retreat at Song of the Morning in Vanderbilt, sponsored by the Port Huron Mindfulness Community, I experienced a life-changing weekend of silence, mindfulness, discussions and relaxation. Before that, my only understanding of Buddhism had come from Fellowship School of Ministry classes and from books (some written by Thich Nhat Hanh).

    When I returned home, I sought out the Lansing Mindfulness Community, and I have been deeply moved by participating in their Sangha (spiritual community). Their Wednesday evening meditation begins with an offering of incense and the ringing of a bell three times in recognition of Buddhisms three sources of refuge: the Buddha, the Buddhas teachings (Dharma), and the Sangha. Mindful walking is the first meditation, followed by a Zen sitting meditation, and then by a Dharma discussion about Buddhist teachings.

    During mindful walking, I pay close attention to the speed of my steps, being aware of the pace of the person walking ahead of me. At the same time, I observe my breath. Then, during the next meditation, we are seated in a circle, not facing towards center, but outward towards the wall. At first, I thought this was a bit strange, but over time I have found it to be incredibly freeing. I dont see anyone as I focus my gaze on the wall. Im not self-conscious of how Im sitting, whether my hands are in the right position, my back straight, etc. I know no one is looking at me. This experience is very centering. I feel a close connection to everyone in the room and nothing has been spoken. There is a sense of compassion and deep respect for each other.

    The part of the evening that has most changed my life is the Dharma group discussion. We sit in a circle on cushions, and each of us reads a part of one of Buddhas teachings (Sutra) or apply Buddhist philosophy to interpret some other text. During one discussion, we read The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss.

    After each reading, we are encouraged to use mindful listening, which asks us to place our entire focus on the person who is speaking and what is being shared, not trying to think about what we are going to say in return. The person speaking gains the groups full attention by respectfully bowing, and the group acknowledges him/her by returning the bow. The person speaking shares an insight or experience concerning the topic. After speaking, he/she again respectfully bows to the group, and the group acknowledges, by bowing, that the speaker has finished. This process continues until the end of the evening, when we finish with a ritual of gratitude to all sentient beings, including our parents, teachers and ancestors.

    What struck me the first time I experienced the Sangha was the complete respect and honor given and received by everyone in the group. No one is shut down or made to feel that what they shared was less than perfect. The first few times I attended I didnt speak; yet as I drove home I had the sense that I had been completely heard.

    I continue to be amazed at the heightened awareness this experience has given me. I am beginning to be mindful of what I do throughout the day, remembering to stay present with my current task. When I find myself eating, reading and listening to music all at the same time, I simply observe and start again by watching my breath and coming back to doing only one activity fully (and without any guilt). Its called a spiritual practice for a reason!

    The weekly Sangha continues to support my mindfulness practice, and the respectful listening continues to amaze and inspire me to be fully present in the moment as I have conversations with others in daily life.

  2. A few quotes from Susan
    Written by Susan Lundberg
    Friday, 06 March 2009 11:58

    “We need to practice meditation gently, but steadily, throughout daily life, not wasting a single opportunity or event to see deeply into the true nature of life, including our everyday problems. Practicing in this way, we dwell in profound communion with life.” p. 18 PEACE IS EVERY STEP, Thich Nhat Hanh, New York: Bantam Books, 1991.

    “Meditation is a point of contact. Sometimes you do not have to go to the place of suffering. You just sit quietly on your cushion, and you can see everything. You can actualize everything, and you can be aware of what is going on in the world. Out of that kind of awareness, compassion and understanding arise naturally, and you can stay right in your own country and perform social action.” p. 126 PEACE IS EVERY STEP, Thich Nhat Hanh, New York: Bantam Books, 1991.

    “Meditation is to look deeply into things and to see how we can change ourselves and how we can transform our situation. To transform our situation is also to transform our minds. To trnsform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation. Awakening is important. The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, and the nature of our own beings are the same.” P. 112 PEACE IS EVERY STEP, Thich Nhat Hanh, New York: Bantam Books, 1991

  3. Quotes from Abby
    Written by Abby Schwartz
    Friday, 06 March 2009 13:17

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
    — Buddha

    or another version:
    “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings — that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.”

    “Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it . . . or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings–that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” – The Buddha

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