Whether it’s dealing with stress buildup, harbored hard feelings or grief, meditation can help participants move past these roadblocks of the mind.
Gen Kelsang Demo, 37, is a Buddhist nun at the Kadampa Meditation Center, a Buddhist temple at 730 N. Washington Blvd. in Sarasota. Demo leads meditation classes on Wednesday at The Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
They are designed as drop-in classes and what Demo called “self-contained,” meaning participants don’t have to feel like they need to attend the entire series to get something out of the classes. The March meditation series will focus on understanding karma through a book called “How to Transform Your Life.”
There’s a peaceful way to accept certain life difficulties or truths that allow you to be at peace with them or find some meaning in them; to find the meaning in a bad experience so that you can kind of, I think, heal
Gen Kelsang Demo, Buddhist nun, Kadampa Meditation Center, explaining the benefits of meditation
The class starts with 10 to 15 minutes of meditation followed by a sermon delivered by Demo. The group meditates again at the end of class and Demo takes questions from participants. All are welcome, including those who practice another religion.
“Nobody has to be a Buddhist,” said Regina Sneed, who said she is “middle-aged” but declined to reveal her age. “I know some practitioners who still identify as Jewish or Catholic.”
Sneed has attended the Kadampa Meditation Center’s meditation classes for five years.
Meditation can help with clearing the mind or dealing with difficult emotions. For Demo, whose interest in Buddhism began in a world religions class she took in 1995, meditation came at a time when she needed it most.
“I had sort of a loose interest in meditation in Buddhism but then I had some people I was close to die,” Demo said. “I was going through a lot and I was looking for something that would help me with the grief. And I just found a lot of relief in the meditation.”
Demo spent roughly six years taking classes and volunteering at a Buddhism center in Seattle, where she grew up, before she decided to pursue ordination as a Buddhist nun.
Karma generally means “action.” From non-virtuous actions comes suffering and from virtuous actions comes happiness. If we believe this, we believe in karma.
Demo began moving and teaching around the United States, first in the Pacific Northwest, then to Wichita, Kan., and New York City before heading to Tampa and then Sarasota. When she arrived in Sarasota nine years ago, she was just in time for the Kadampa Meditation Center’s temple project. She helped with choosing the property where the new temple would be built as well as the extensive, careful shrine-making process once the temple was completed.
The Kadampa Meditation Center opened in June 2011. In addition to sponsoring the Anna Maria Island classes, the Sarasota center offers a full schedule of Buddhism study and meditation classes.
Find out more at meditationinsarasota.org.
Meditation class dates through March and April
Who: Taught by Gen Kelsang Demo and attended by the public
What: Meditation classes
When: 7-8:15 p.m. March 15 and 22, April 5 and 12
Where: The Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria
Why: March classes focus on understanding karma and April classes focus on transforming life’s adversities into spiritual progress
Cost: $10, $5 for center members