If you’ve walked past the Department of Motor Vehicles recently you may have noticed a new tenant in the old La Esperanza Viva church at the corner of M and Canal Streets SW. This summer, a temporary sign went up announcing the Kadampa meditation, a form of religion my knowledge of which only went as far as its name. Kadampa is a Buddhist temple that is completely open to the public.
On Thursday evenings, the Kadampa Meditation Center hosts a weekly meditation class. As I entered the space, I was directed downstairs for the class as the main floor is being renovated. (The projected opening is late winter 2017/early spring 2018.) I entered the class and was greeted by Gen Demo, a short, unassuming woman with more than 18 years of teaching experience under her belt. (“Gen” is a respectful title given to a Buddhist teacher after four years of teaching.) I had heard about the beneficial effects of meditation, but had never tried it, especially in a formal setting.
The class began with a short breathing meditation led by our teacher. Next, Gen spoke on tonight’s topic: “self-esteem versus self-importance.” Each month, Kadampa chooses a theme to discuss at these weekly meditation classes and each week they build on that theme. The class finished with more meditation time to reflect on the lesson for the evening. At first, I was definitely a little fidgety during the meditation portion, but I have heard that this subsides the more you practice. After this hour-and-a-half-long class, I went home feeling relaxed and refreshed for the evening.
Later, I spoke with Gen Demo to learn more about the center and how it came to find its permanent home in Southwest. Kadampa now owns the new space at 1200 Canal St. SW with help from the International Temples Project Fund. The goal was to purchase a new space after their previous rental space in Adams Morgan was bought and torn down. Gen believes many of the neighbors are happy to see this space continue to be used for spiritual purposes as opposed to being sold to a developer.
For further information, including a calendar of events, visit meditation-dc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The temple offers weekly meditation classes for $12 per class ($6 for students/seniors/unemployed), as well as different themed workshops. Kadampa also offers different levels of monthly memberships for frequent visitors.
By: Christy Vaughn