The Tower Meditation Sangha
Background and Practice Essentials
The Tower Meditation Sangha is a community of people who are committed to learning about and practicing Buddhist mindfulness meditation. The Sangha takes its name from its weekly meeting place, Fresno’s Tower District, an area where Fresno’s diverse peoples and cultures come together. In keeping with the Tower District’s vibrant diversity, we welcome everyone regardless of meditation tradition or experience.
The Sangha’s mission is to bring people together to meditate, reflect in a group setting on meditation experiences and practices, and to discuss Buddhist teachings. Practicing together regularly strengthens both individuals and the community: our vision is to support one another as we develop wisdom and loving-kindness and create peace in our hearts and the world.
The Sangha meets weekly on Monday nights year-round. Typically, the group sits in meditation for half an hour, does walking meditation for 15 minutes, and then discusses Buddhist teachings or the nuances of meditation practice. The session ends with a healing circle that builds the habit of goodwill (metta) toward all beings. We gather at 6:15 and meditation begins promptly at 6:30--please arrive with enough time to "'settle" yourself before meditation begins. If you arrive after meditation has begun, just enter quietly and join us. If you are joining us for the first time, please arrive between 6:00 and 6:15 so that we may welcome you and provide a brief introduction to our meditation practice.
The first Monday of each month is devoted to a silent practice of two sitting-meditation and two walking-meditation periods.
On the second Monday of each month, immediately following meditation, we gather for tea and for informal conversation.
The essential practice of the group is breath meditation with a focus on mindful attention to the body, the quality of physical sensations that arise in the body, and the mind-states and thought patterns that occur. Our practice is informed mainly by two Buddhist traditions: Zen and Vipassana/Insight. These two traditions both focus on how regular meditation practice can help practitioners be more mindful and awake, more alive in the present moment, and more proactive in reducing suffering for ourselves and for the world.
The Sangha organizes two day-long retreats each year (one in the fall and one in the spring) and has occasional special programs and offerings.
The Sangha’s founding leader and principal teacher is Kenshin Karuna (Renee Potik), who has been a Buddhist practitioner in the Vietnamese Mahayana Zen tradition for the past 30 years and in the Vipassana/Insight tradition for the past 10. She has taken Sramenerika and Boddhisatva vows and has taught meditation classes for many years under the guidance of Rev. Shinzen Young and Venerable Rev. Karuna Dharma. She is a retired Nurse Practitioner interested in creating a healthier and more peaceful world. The Sangha is co-led by David Lorey, a practitioner in the Insight/Vipassana tradition. Both Renee and David make themselves available to provide one-on-one support of Dharma practice to members of the Sangha.
Our Meditation Practices and their Benefits
Our principal practice is sitting breath meditation, in which we use the natural in and out breathing of the body to calm the mind and cultivate present-moment awareness. As the mind naturally wanders away from the breath, we use mindfulness to bring it back to this object. The mental calm and focus that result from growing mindfulness lead to valuable insights into our lives and have many practical applications.
The Sangha also practices walking meditation together every week. Walking meditation is a first step toward taking mindful awareness and meditative calm out into the world of action and interaction, preparing us to approach our lives and our relationships more wakefully. Walking as a group helps us be attentive to how both our bodies and minds interact with others.
These two simple practices have the power to develop a transformative connection between body and mind—and among feeling, thought, and action. But they require a good deal of discipline and regular practice. Most members of the Sangha practice daily, strengthening their practice between weekly meetings. As practice deepens, the benefits are profound and long-lasting.
Benefits of mindfulness meditation include:
Mindful awareness – meditation teaches us to be awake in the present moment.
Mental tranquility and stability – meditation assists in the cultivation and deepening of clarity and focus of mind.
Insight – through meditation we cultivate an awareness of our true nature, helping us to experience life’s difficulties with less suffering.
Connection – meditation in a group awaken us to our connections with others.
Goodwill and compassion – awareness and wisdom create a natural flowing out of kindness and compassion to ourselves and all beings.
As we meditate on body and mind, we become aware of old, reactive habit patterns that cause suffering. With regular practice, those old habits begin to drop away, allowing us to be freer, more joyous and spontaneous, in our daily lives. More present in each moment of life, we find we are more available to ourselves and others. Practicing weekly together in the Sangha enhances our capacity to live fully and strengthens our resolve to keep practicing, supporting the development of all these benefits.
All are welcome. We enjoy all people dropping in. Beginners help us maintain a fresh perspective while experienced meditators offer support and guidance for our practice.
There is no fee, but donations (dana) of any amount are greatly accepted: we share all donations with our kind hosts at the Fresno Tai Chi Center.
Come and sit with us!