The Rochester Meditation Center is a community rooted in Metta. Metta is the Buddhist term for loving-kindness and refers to a state of awareness rooted in selflessness and connectedness.
The center’s founding member, Doug McGill, finds Metta to be such a grounding concept that he requested the word be stamped into his personalized license plates. McGill returned to his hometown of Rochester in 2004 after reporting for the New York Times and Bloomberg News. McGill continues to write and also finds a deep sense of purpose in his work at the center.
In describing what meditation is all about, McGill described, “Meditation is a way to develop the positive and healthy states of mind.” Meditation nurtures awareness, and that awareness is an important component of learning to regulate one’s emotions with intention.
On Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, about 12 to 25 people gather at the RMC, a house just a few blocks from Mayo Clinic. Sundays begin with a 30-minute silent meditation in the living room, followed by an hourlong conversation about a reading. Then there’s another brief meditation and a coffee hour. Thursday evenings usually include a silent meditation and then an opportunity to listen to a speaker and hear what is referred to as a dharma talk.
The RMC seeks to be “a safe space for people to come and to sit in the middle of all their troubles and find a way to deal with them skillfully,” McGill said.
For McGill, there is a lot of benefit in having other people with whom to practice meditation. While meditation can be an individual practice, it also can be done in community with others.
“Having a group to sit with and practice with is enriching on a lot of levels,” he said. “The heart of the practice is always a kind of collaboration with others. It’s a discovery that you thought you were alone … but you recognize over time that we all share one consciousness. When I work on my consciousness to make it healthy and happy, there’s an immediate effect on others … and then you start to recognize that you never were alone.”
A deep sense of connectedness and mutual respect is central not only to the form of Buddhist meditation taught at Rochester Meditation Center but also to the mission of the people who come each week.
It isn’t just a shared desire to experience the benefits of meditation that connects the people who support the Rochester Meditation Center. It’s also an appreciation for service and fellowship. The RMC community gathers for a monthly service time at Channel One. They also enjoy movie nights together and seasonal volunteering opportunities.
When asked what he most wants people to know about the Rochester Meditation Center, McGill said, “I want people to know that we’re here. So come on down.”
All programs and classes are free and on a drop-in basis unless otherwise noted on the website. McGill said visitors can expect to “get an opportunity to sit quietly, to enjoy peaceful quiet presence with themselves and others, and they also get the chance to learn a bit of the traditional spiritual wisdom from Buddhism.”