Meditation classes come to Burlington – Burlington Hawk Eye

More than 20 people gathered Wednesday in the upper level of the Art Center of Burlington for the first of what will be many weekly Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center meditation classes.

The Davenport-based nonprofit has been operational about seven years and in that time has offered its meditation expertise to those in Davenport, Iowa City, Des Moines and Rock Island, Ill.; youths in the Quad Cities and Iowa City can attend children’s meditation.

Meditation teacher Joe Gauthier said the Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center tries to get the classes to wherever there is an interest or need. He decided to bring his services to southeast Iowa after people from Burlington and Fort Madison who attended his classes in the Quad Cities told him they wished there were similar sessions closer to home.

Those attending were there for reasons ranging from hoping to reduce stress, to improving their mindfulness, to satisfying their curiosity about the subject.

It was the first time Angie Kruse of Burlington tried meditating. Aside from a general interest, she wanted to try something new and was grateful for the opportunity.

“We need to take advantage of these things,” she said.

Jim and Linda Bean of Fort Madison were doing just that. Jim, a 17-year DuPont retiree, wasn’t there to de-stress as Linda “keeps a low-stress environment,” but he thought meditation might be a good way to stay sharp.

“They say keep your mind engaged and learn knew concepts,” Jim said.

He plans to pass on what he learned to his son and his son’s family.

Linda had her own reasons for attending.

“It’s supposed to be healthful. It’s supposed to be relaxing, stress-reducing,” Linda said.

Also there for health benefits was Don Roasa of Burlington, who hoped the class would give him some tools to fall back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night.

Before getting started, Gauthier explained how meditation works.

“The experience we have in life is very subjective, as we all know,” he said.

People have good days and not so good days, despite being surrounded by the same external environments on a daily or near-daily basis, he said. People have good days because those external things are “seen through the prism of positive mind.”

“You can gradually move to a state of permanent positivity through training and meditation,” he said.

Gauthier told his students they must focus on their breath. Meditation requires one to focus on an object, such as a mental image of a cat or a specific feeling. Breathing is a popular object of meditation because it’s always there and is deeply connected to the mind and body, which helps those meditating become more absorbed in their focus.

Concentration is key when meditating, as it helps those practicing access a deeper level of consciousness. When deeper levels of the mind are reached, Gauthier said, time moves by quickly. This is because the subtle mind processes time differently than the surface mind. And turning awareness inward allows people to let go of external objects and gain more control over their emotions and state of mind.

With the goal in mind, the class got down to business. Sitting in chairs with their backs straight, heads tilted downward at a 45-degree angle, hands in their laps and feet rooted to the floor, Gauthier helped the students settle in for their 10-minute mental journey, reminding them to focus on their breathing and gently guiding their concentration back to that object should their mind wander. The room grew silent as the class turned their attentions inward in hopes of stilling their thoughts.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

“Usually, the mind will be a little rebellious,” Gauthier said before they began, but it does get easier with practice.

Roasa didn’t have too much trouble keeping his focus, but he did get warm. He noticed cooling off again when discussion resumed following the group meditation. That is because, Gauthier said, concentration creates energy and, in turn, gives off heat.


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