Newcomers are always welcome, and especially invited to join us for newcomer orientation that is held on the last Sunday of each month, starting at 6:30pm. That orientation, like our Sunday evening meetings, takes place at the Buddhist Vihara, 5017 16th Street NW, Washington DC. But it’s not compulsory to attend an orientation before practicing with us; if you prefer, just come a little early on any Sunday, let the greeter in the hallway know that you are new, and get a quick orientation that way.
As you read through this section about Sunday evenings, the key point to bear in mind is that you absolutely don’t need to study the details; if you’re not sure of anything during the evening, just ask whoever’s next to you; s/he will be happy to offer any support you need. We don’t require that you have any previous experience. We only ask that you have the desire to practice mindfulness. You will find the Washington Mindfulness Community a supportive and nurturing place, helping you in your efforts to be mindful and fully awake. This is a welcoming place for people of all ages, all physical abilities, all ethnic and racial backgrounds, and all faith traditions. Our diverse group joyfully includes LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming practitioners. Come exactly as you are, you will be cherished for it.
We meet together at 6:30pm every Sunday evening, staying until 8:30 or 9pm. Don’t worry if you arrive late; you can sit in the hall outside the double doors, until the bell sounds ending the first sit, around 7pm. One of us, the greeter, will be in the hall with you, and will invite you to come into the meditation hall for the first walking meditation.
You will see a lot of bowing in the course of the evening. Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay, explains it this way. “Bowing is a deep form of communication. A bow may mean hello, thank you, goodbye, or excuse me. But it’s not just a way to be polite. It’s a way of recognizing and honoring the Buddha or awakened nature in each of us. We bring our palms together carefully to form a beautiful lotus flower at the level of our heart. Then we look at the eyes of the person we will bow to, and we smile.”