This is an open, ongoing weekly Vipassana meditation groupfor those wishing to deepen their practice with others in a group setting with an experienced Insight teacher. Most nights, there are about 20-35 of us(even though Meetup might show that only one person is attending!) Beginners are welcome!
WHAT WE PRACTICE: 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.
THE TEACHER: The group is led byShell Fischer, founder and director of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, who has been studying and practicing mindfulness for more than 25 years. She's a full teacher and senior practitioner with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. (IMCW), trained in the two-year Meditation Teacher Training Institute by IMCW's founder and guiding teacher Dr. Tara Brach - one of the nation's leading Insight teachers. She's a 1993 graduate of Naropa University, a Shambhala Buddhist-based university in Boulder,Co., 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 offers, and about other upcoming classes and retreats at www.mindfulvalley.com.
WHEN & WHERE: 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.)
(It's fine if you arrive late! Just make sure to sit in the back until meditation is finished ... and, also fine to leave early if you need, too.)
COST: In lieu of traditional "dana" (generosity practice) for the teacher, there is a suggested donation of $5-$10 to the church for providing us the space.
THE FORMAT: There is a 20-minute guided meditation, 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 given for this). Following the meditation period, a 30-40 minute teaching is offered by the teacher. We close the sit with a 5 to 15-minutemeditation based on the teaching.
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!
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.