Affinity Groups at CIMC offer opportunities for beginners and experienced practitioners alike to learn about insight meditation, to deepen their practice and to participate at the center with others whose life experience may be similar to their own. Affinity Groups meet regularly; their schedules are available on our Drop-In Programs page as well as on our Online Calendar.
35 & Under Sangha
This affinity group — appropriate for both new and experienced meditators — provides an opportunity for those ages 18-35 to practice the dharma in a supportive community setting. The group offers two different formats:
- With Teacher. The second and fourth Sundays of the month will be led by teachers Matthew Hepburn or Zeenat Potia. These evenings start with a period of guided sitting practice and walking meditation, followed by time for sharing: dyads (partner work) and small or large group discussion. There is time after the evening ends for participants to gather informally for tea and conversation.
- Practice Sunday. The first and third Sundays of the month will be led by CIMC Practice Leaders and offer silent sitting and walking periods for deepening stillness and strengthening self-guided meditation practice in the company of the sangha. Practice Sundays do not offer meditation instruction. Beginners should first attend a few sessions that are guided by a teacher.
Beloved Community Circles
A series of conversations facilitated by CIMC Board Member Betty Burkes, Beloved Community Circles (BCC) provide a forum for cultivating awareness within the CIMC community about social realities and conditioning, informed by the Dharma. Recognizing the particular need for consciousness regarding race and racism in our culture, this theme is one foundation for the series.
We practice deep listening to one another and share our experiences to promote greater understanding of ourselves and each other. Honoring the gift and importance of sangha on this path of liberation, we will explore how we relate as spiritual friends and the barriers to this aspiration. BCC is open to everyone in the CIMC community.
As elders, we’re invited as never before to look deeply into the great issues of impermanence, diminishment, and mortality. Yet through practice these are balanced by expanding compassion, joy and appreciation of life. Let us take advantage of this opportunity and come together every month for talks, discussion, and meditation. Together we’ll explore both the challenges and sources of inspiration that enrich the process of creative, conscious aging. For more information, please see our Listserve for Elders Sangha or click here for additional supporting material.
These evening gatherings provide a dedicated practice space at CIMC for people who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. This is a great opportunity to connect with and build community as we come together to practice, learn and celebrate who we are.
CIMC Core Teacher Madeline Klyne leads sitting and walking meditation followed by a Dharma teaching and/or discussion. Our affinity group is a “drop-in” and is appropriate for beginners as well as those with prior meditation experience. After our formal program, all are invited to gather in the dining room for tea and snacks.
This group is an informal opportunity for parents and small children (ages 3-8) to explore a family practice. Through singing, playful movement and storytelling we learn how to spend time together mindfully. Seasonal and festive themes are interwoven in our work to bring in color, fun, and a community atmosphere. We introduce the concepts of awareness, non-judgement or acceptance, and stillness (in heart and mind — the body may be moving). Some examples of mindfulness that might be explored are: mindful listening, mindful breathing, mindful seeing, and more. Children are naturally in tune with their bodies and their environment. Our work together tries to harness this beautiful quality of wonder and presence. We have a high tolerance for movement and sound, and the children are not expected to sit still or be quiet all the time. At the end of the session, there is some time reserved for a craft activity, simple snacks, and conversation.
Children must be supervised by an adult at all times. Our activities are geared to children ages 3-8. However, we are happy to welcome younger and older siblings so that families have the opportunity to practice and be together.
People of Color Sangha
The POC Sangha provides a dedicated practice space at CIMC for those who self-identify as people of color, and generally meets on the first Friday of each month from 6:30-8:15pm. (Once or twice a year we meet on the second Friday instead.) We start with sitting meditation practice which is followed by a Dharma talk and/or discussion. After our formal program, all are invited to gather in the dining room for a vegetarian community potluck and conversation. This affinity group is a “drop-in” and is appropriate for beginners as well as those with meditation experience.
In 2019, we are engaged in a year of practice focused on Wisdom, Virtuous Action and Meditation (The Noble Eightfold Path), a guide to the end of suffering. The Buddha gave this teaching in virtually all his discourses and his directions are as clear and relevant for today’s practitioner as they were when he first gave them.
This year of practice is led by CIMC Core Teacher Matthew Hepburn, visiting teachers and the POC Affinity Group Leaders (yenkuei chuang, Novelette DeMercado, Vicky I and Bonita Jones). Please feel free to come to any, or all, of the monthly gatherings.