Arts & Culture

Top Meditation Centers In The Connecticut Area

June 30, 2014 8:00 AM

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(Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for Martha Stewart)

(Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for Martha Stewart)

Buddhists know how to meditate, or more accurately, are in the process of perfecting it (as perfection is always an unobtainable goal, yet one worth striving for). Connecticut has many temples, pagodas, schools and other centers where Buddhist abbots, spiritual guides and teachers help people of theirs and all other faiths (or lack thereof) take the meditative path. Here are just five of the top meditation centers in the state for those who are curious, in need of or seek to attain a higher level of meditative bliss.

Odiyana Center
52 National Drive
Glastonbury, CT 06033
(860) 266-6041
www.meditationinconnecticut.org

When a meditation center leads its web address with the word “meditation” rather than its proper name, it is a good sign of where its staff puts its emphasis. The Odiyana Center in Glastonbury is run by Buddhists but is not exclusive to followers of that faith. As its website proclaims invitingly, Odiyana is about “mediation and Buddhism for everyone.” There are drop-in classes for the curious, as well as workshops and retreats for the committed, and numerous events for those somewhere in between. Odiyana also does a great deal of community service and outreach, offers study classes and provides many levels of support for those new to or in need of mediation.

Related: Best Yoga Retreats In The U.S.

New Haven Shambhala Center
85 Willow St.
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 503-0173
www.newhaven.shambhala.org

The Shambhala Center of New Haven is a place of ultimate calm in the otherwise bustling and noisy Elm City. A place of meditation and learning, it offers many special programs, most recent of which included learning “The Way of the Warrior” and how to “Listen to Water.” There are creative writing and meditation classes as well as weekly open houses and monthly programs for people of varying ages – including children as young as four, who are welcome to attend the Bodhi School class on the third Sunday of each month. The Shambhala Center is Buddhist in orientation, but is welcome to people of all denominations and beliefs.

Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center
7 Park Place
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-6136
www.chenrezigcenter.com

The Venerable Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin is the teacher and guide at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, and the 80-year-old is large, jovial and the personification of the “Smiling Buddha” if ever there was one. The Chenrezig Center is a shrine, as such is a place of prayer as well as of instruction and mediation. Among its most honored courses are the “Seven Point Mind Training” and “Four Noble Truths.” The center, like its spiritual guide, is all about peace and meditation, but also about encouraging visitors, members and students to move toward enlightenment.

Redding Center for Meditation
9 Picketts Ridge Road
West Redding, CT 06896
(203) 438-0440
www.reddingmeditation.org

From one-day retreats and movie nights to nearly week-long summer retreats, and ongoing fall kid and family programs, the Redding Center for Meditation offers it all and more. There are even potluck supper nights to go along with evening meditation sessions. There is something going on almost every day at the Redding Center, and its two main teachers – Abbot Achan Da Nilpant and Achan Niphen Montamart – bring a unique Thai twist to the Buddhist philosophy and meditation techniques taught at the center.

Hai An Pagoda Buddhist Temple
255 Cherry St.
New Britain, CT 06051
www.meetup.com/Hai-An-Pagoda-Meditation

Each week the Hai An Pagoda in New Britain hosts an evening of meditation that includes both traditional “sitting” and a more mobile “walking” type of meditation. That is followed by a “Dharma discussion” and, for those who are so inclined, a time of chanting. Newcomers are welcome, and the temple offers many programs and classes for those who want to learn how to meditate with a purpose – including moving forward with “spiritual growth” or following a path toward “kindness” in their lives.

Related: Top Places To Find Yoga And Pilates Gear In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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