Sangha News 1/23/24

Thursday evening Info:

This week, during the Thursday night online meeting (1/25), Chris will give a talk on aspects of our body and mind that we tend to identify as “I, me, or mine”, and how that identification doesn’t serve us. The following week (2/1) we’ll have a discussion after meditation on those areas of experience and our tendency to identify with them.

The Thursday night talks explore topics related to meditation, with the current focus on insights into the ways that our minds and hearts respond to the world. The series of talks on insight will explore some of the concepts that describe the activity of our minds and hearts, and some meditation approaches that help us to see them more clearly and respond with more clarity and compassion in the world. This series of talks will include some of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha on impermanence and interdependence, the nature of the self and how it functions, and the relationship between awareness and compassion. In these talks, Chris will also explore the teachings on dependent origination, karma, and related topics that underpin the Buddhist understanding of the mind and heart.  The talks will be self-contained, and we’ll provide resources for the concepts and meditation approaches covered in the talks (see Updated Resources below). If you’d like more information on the topics we’ll be covering in the next month or two, Guy Armstrong’s book Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators (Wisdom Publications) is an excellent resource. This is not an introductory book, but like Joseph Goldstein’s book, Mindfulness, it is well-written and clear and would be a book to return to over the years as your practice deepens.


Beginning Meditation Class Series ~ January 14th – February 11th, 2024

The next series of Beginning Meditation classes is coming in mid-January. The series will begin on Sunday, January 14, 2024 and continue for 5 Sunday afternoons. The classes will be conducted in person at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1322 Kimball Avenue, Richland, in the Fellowship Hall. There is no charge for the classes; donations are accepted.

This will be the first time we’ve offered the classes in-person since the Fall of 2019. The classes are intended to work together to provide an introduction to meditation for those new to meditation or serve as a useful “touchstone” for more experienced practitioners. You are welcome to attend any or all of the classes. Each class can be a stand alone class, and will focus on a different topic. All classes will be from 1:30- 3:00 pm. If you’d like to register for the classes, please send an email to Chris Murray.

The dates and topics for the remaining classes are as follows:

January 28 — Mindfulness of Thoughts and Emotions in Meditation

February 4 — Compassion & Loving Kindness Meditation Practices

February 11 – Insight Meditation and Open Awareness


Webinar on Artificial Intelligence and Buddhist Wisdom ~ January 26, 2024

The Buddhist Insight Network, with support from Spirit Rock Meditation Center, will present a free online webinar with Randima (Randy) Fernando entitled “Navigating Artificial Intelligence with Buddhist Wisdom”, from 10:00-11:30 am PST on January 26, 2024. Randy was born in Sri Lanka, is a lifelong Buddhist student and practitioner and is on the Board of Directors of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology (CHT), a nonprofit whose mission is to align technology with humanity’s best interests. CHT was featured in the Emmy-winning film “The Social Dilemma,” which has been seen by over 100 million people globally. Randy previously served for seven years as founding Executive Director at Mindful Schools, a nonprofit that has taught mindfulness to millions of kids and over 40,000 educators worldwide. He also worked for several years at NVIDIA, focused on 3D graphic design.

You can register for the webinar here. The webinar will be recorded, so if you can’t watch it on Friday, you’ll be able to view it later if you register.

You can find additional information on some of these topics and an interview with Randy on the Mind & Life podcast


Weekly Meditation Schedule:

In-Person Meetings:

Our in-person meetings take place at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1322 Kimball Avenue in Richland. Our in-person meditation meetings are offered on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. We meditate for half an hour, followed by an optional time for sharing and conversation after meditation. No problem if you just want to meditate and then leave. 

Chairs are available in the meeting hall. However, if you prefer to use your own chair, blanket, cushion or bench, you are welcome to bring it. The meetings have recently moved indoors and meet in the Parish Hall at the rear of the church.

Those who regularly attend the in-person meetings have developed a masking policy for the times we meet indoors. The community levels of Covid will be checked each time we publish a newsletter. When community levels are low; masks will be optional. When community levels are medium or high, masks will be required. If there is any attending member that feels more comfortable with everyone masking, we will all mask in support of the most vulnerable among us.

Currently, the Covid community levels are low in Benton County; masks are optional on Saturday and Wednesday morning unless any participant feels more comfortable with everyone masking. Please bring a mask to all of the in-person sessions in case the meeting is moved indoors and there is an attending member with greater vulnerability.

We’re looking forward to welcoming some of you in person and being there online for others.

Online Meetings:

In addition to our in-person meetings we have three online meditations a week, on Wednesday morning, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. The Zoom links for those meetings can be found on the Events Calendar. You’re welcome to join us online for any of the 3 meetings each week.

During the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday online meetings, we “sit together” for meditation for half an hour. Meditations include guided meditations, meditations with some initial guidance and instruction, and silent meditations. The Wednesday morning meditation starts at 9:30 am, with half an hour of meditation, followed by half an hour of sharing. On Thursday evenings there is a talk or discussion and sharing following meditation. Meditation is from 7:30 until 8:00 pm, with the talk and discussion ending at about 9:00 pm. The Saturday morning meditation starts at 8:00 am, with half an hour of meditation followed by half an hour of sharing.

If you can’t or don’t wish to join the online sessions you can just meditate at the same time as we’re meeting and know that there are others from the group who are meditating with you. 

We’re looking forward to welcoming some of you in person and being there online for others.


Meditation Support Group Meets at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center

We’ll continue our monthly mindfulness meditation support group meeting at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, 7350 West Deschutes Avenue, Kennewick. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 2/15/2024. The sessions, which are held on the third Thursday of each month, are meant for cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their caregivers. The session will begin at 12:00 pm at the Cancer Center in the Wellness Center. If you have a serious illness other than cancer, or are a caregiver for someone who is ill, you’re welcome to attend the sessions. Each session includes a brief review of mindfulness and mindful self-compassion meditations and the role they can play in reducing the anxiety arising from diagnosis and treatment, an opportunity to ask questions, and the chance to practice meditation with others.


Volunteers at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

The Insight Meditation group has supported Buddhist meditation groups at the state prison in Connell, WA since 2003. Those visits were on hold during the height of the pandemic but resumed last year. Currently we have two volunteers visiting the medium-security prison on Monday afternoons and we are seeking additional volunteers to support that effort, especially when our lead volunteer isn’t available.

There are several requirements for those volunteering at the prison.  Orientation and training are required. Applicants also need to undergo a background investigation. Applicants with a criminal background need to be off of supervision or parole for a year before applying. 

Those applying to volunteer should have a regular meditation practice and at least some knowledge of Buddhist teachings and be willing to learn more so that you can discuss Buddhist practice with the inmates. If you’re interested, please contact Chris Murray for more information about volunteering at Coyote Ridge.

Warm regards,

Insight Meditation of the Mid-Columbia