This is a *free, open, ongoing weekly meditation group that began in Sept. 2010, and includes both beginners and experienced practitioners. Most nights, there are about 15-25 of us (even though Meetup might show that only one person is attending!) *There is a suggested donation of $5 for the church for providing the beautiful space.
We meet every Tuesday from 7-8:45 p.m. in the beautiful blue sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley, 6380 Valley Pike, Stephens City. (*Directions are below.)
We practice Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, a style of meditation that trains us to live more mindfully in the present moment. Literally meaning "to see clearly," Vipassana enables us to experience all aspects of life from a greater stillness, and to relate to both ourselves and others with increased clarity and compassion, and less fear, anxiety, and stress.
Along with these and a long list of other psychological benefits, meditation has also been shown to reduce cortisol in the body (stress hormones), lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, prevent and reverse memory loss, boost the immune system, and strengthen DNA. It also increases the size of areas in the brain associated with attention, compassion, calmness, and creativity, among a host of other things.
While the forms of meditation we practice are rooted in Buddhist teachings, the study and practice of mindfulness is applicable to anyone from any background or religion, and all are welcome. There are plenty of chairs.
The group is led by Shell Fischer, founder and director of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, who has been studying and practicing mindfulness for the past two decades. She's a teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., trained by senior teacher Tara Brach in the Meditation Teacher Training Institute of Washington, D.C, and a graduate of the MBSR teacher training program led by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR and the Stress Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Along with Insight Meditation, she teaches MBSR as an educational partner with Valley Health's Integrative Care System.
You can learn about the three new 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshops that Shell will be offering in May 2014, and about other upcoming classes and retreats at www.mindfulvalley.com.
A 20-minute guided meditation is followed by a 25-minute silent meditation on wide, comfy, padded chairs (or cushions/benches if you bring your own), and a 15-minute walking meditation (instructions are provided). Following the meditation period, a 20-minute teaching is offered by the teacher. The remainder of the session is devoted to questions and discussion. We close the sit with a 10-15 minute metta (or loving-kindness) meditation.
Noble Silence Night - Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday, as a way of nurturing more stillness, the teaching is followed by silence rather than questions, and we all leave together in silence as well.
*If there is a 5th Tuesday, we follow the guided meditation format.
If you're driving North on I-81, take the Middletown exit (302) to US 11, turn right, then continue north for about 3 miles to the church, which will be on your left.
If you're driving South on I-81, take the Stephens City exit (307). Take a right off the exit onto Fairfax Pike, then turn left at the traffic light onto Route 11. The church will be on your right in about 2 miles or so.
The white wooden entrance sign on Route 11, sits at the top of a hill, and the church is set at the end of a parking lot below it.
1. If you're driving in from Winchester, start looking for the white church sign on the right just past the white highway sign that says "All Trucks Left, 3/4-Mile." In fact, when you see the truck sign, turn your blinker on!
2. If you've pulled into the smaller "Unity" church that's in the property next to it (which, coincidentally, is the old UU church), you're at the wrong place, but you're very close - the one where we meet is just south of it, up the hill, almost on the same property.
3. During inclement weather, cancellation notices will be sent out at 4:30 p.m., so please check your emails!
INSIDE THE CHURCH
1. Please note that for safety reasons, the doors are locked at 7:15 p.m.
2. Once you enter the church, the sanctuary is straight ahead of you through the glass doors.
3. Please look for the sign on the left glass door that says "Meditation Group," and enter there.
4. Please don't open the large middle door to the sanctuary, as it lets out the heat.
5. Also, we keep the lights dim in the front, where we sit, so you may not be able to see the circle of us, but we're there!
1. There are plenty of chairs, but if you prefer to sit on the floor, which is hardwood, please bring a blanket or mat AND a hard pillow or zafu, since, when you're meditating, it is recommended that that your hips be higher than your knees. And, if you've never tried sitting on the floor for meditation before, it's suggested that you use a chair in the beginning, and practice sitting on the floor at home until you get used to it.
2. If you have any back issues, it is suggested that you bring a pillow/cushion to place behind you on the chair.
3. Please remember to turn off your cell phones before entering the sanctuary
4. Be sure to bring a warm shawl or sweater during the cooler months, since your body cools quicker when you're sitting still.
5. Please be mindful not to wear any perfume to the sit, as it can be very distracting to others. Also, with respect to those who may be allergic, we do not use incense.
6. The group is not recommended for those under age 16.
Please feel free to email if you have any questions at all.