Class time rolls around and meditation teacher Poimoe Lin begins to set up the room at the Seattle Meditation Center in Mountlake Terrace.
Blankets, chairs and cushions are placed on the floor while attendees at the class for English speakers file in.
Lin takes his place at the front of the room, seated elevated on a desk with legs crisscross. He begins the class with a 30-minute “sharing session.” His assistant, Amnit, said it was a chance for everybody to get to know each other and be comfortable before the meditation.
Afterward, time is spent teaching how to meditate. Amnit said it depends on how many new people are attending the class that day, but it usually takes about 20 minutes. Lin instructs attendees on how to open and clear the mind and shows a Power Point with the benefits of meditation displayed.
Then it is time to meditate. Other than a few instructions from Lin, the room is completely silent. The class stays very still and focuses on “becoming one with body and mind.”
While it serves as a Theravada Buddhist Monastery and Buddhist community, the Seattle Meditation Center also holds a free class every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Mountlake Terrace location. Open to all, it is led by Buddhist monks with 10 or more years experience, according to their website.
Like every other Buddhist monk at the Seattle Meditation Center, Lin came from Thailand. He was shown the practice of meditation there and moved to Seattle to share his experience and knowledge. He said he has been teaching for almost two years.
He also said he is glad for the opportunity to give to America something so important to his culture
“We feel thankful for America and we would like to share and give back so we opened a free class for the local American people,” Lin said.
According to Amnit, the reason for meditation is for people to spread love and kindness throughout the world. She said it helps clear the mind of negative thoughts toward people and encourages positive thinking.
“(The Buddhist monks) want to create world peace through inner peace. If you create inner peace through yourself, you have peace throughout the world,” Amnit said.
She went on to explain the benefits of meditation. She said the medical field has finally realized that meditation helps to make a person healthier and that a healthy mind leads to a healthy body. She also said meditation helps to reduce stress and genuinely makes a person happier.
Lin and the other Buddhist monks follow the five precepts or virtues that tell all Buddhists to abstain from killing, stealing, sensual misconduct, lying and drinking alcohol. However, there are no requirements for the students outside the class. Lin also said that Buddhist monks emphasize respect not only among superiors, but also among friends and family. Everyone bows to each other, instead of shaking hands or hugging. Lin has everyone bow to him and then he bows to everyone at the beginning of class.
“We just encourage the students to try (meditating) at home. We don’t impose any rules to anyone who comes here, this is (an) open space for people who want to meditate” Amnit said.
Class members do pay respect to their Lord Buddha before they meditate, but no one is forced to and may politely decline. Amnit said they do that during class because it is the Thai and Buddhist culture.
When class is finished, a bell rings and the class gathers in the front for a group picture, which will be later uploaded to the Free Meditation Seattle website, http://meditationseattle.org/
Located at 21910 44th Ave. W., the Seattle Meditation Center will be hosting a 17th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Aug 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
– By Stephi Smith