So last week I was sitting in English class wondering what event I could blog about. Then, as she was going through a list of health related events at Emory, my English professor offhandedly mentioned that we could write a blog post about attending a guided meditation session with the Emory Buddhist Club. I had been interested in attending one of their weekly sessions for a while, and they just so happened to be meeting that evening right after my English class ended. The timing worked out perfectly so I decided to go.
Now, the description for the event that I saw was little more than ‘guided meditation with tea at the end.’ I assumed people showed up to meditate for an hour and then drank tea. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the session consisted of a 45 minute lecture and discussion on Buddhism and meditation, followed by 15 minutes of guided compassion meditation. And yes, there was complimentary tea at the end.
For the most part we listened to the (for lack of a more accurate word) lecturer speak about Buddhism and what various aspects of the dharma (loosely translated as teachings in this context) meant. We also discussed things such as the positive effects of meditation on the body like reduced stress levels.
I was surprised about how informative this event was. I have a moderate amount of experience with Buddhism myself (mainly Tibetan), and a solid background in the history of Buddhism from a comparative religious class I took in high school. Yet I still walked away from this discussion/lecture having learned many new things about Buddhism and various Buddhist philosophies. I also learned that most of my Buddhism knowledge was technical and historical, but the Emory Buddhist Club taught me about many of the same things I already knew about from a religious perspective. It also made me realize that learning about a religion on a technical level is very different from seeing individuals discuss and practice it.
Please don’t in any way think that this is an attempt to indoctrinate anyone. I am not a Buddhist myself, I just enjoy learning about various religions. Most of the people who attended were not Buddhists and at no point did anyone try to convert me. It really is an open environment.
If this sounds like your kind of place then I highly recommend that you check out one of the weekly sessions. Everyone I spoke to was very welcoming, and these sessions are open to anyone of any or no faith. And if you end up not enjoying it, at least you got some free tea out of it.
Image From: http://www.buddhistclub.org/