Creating Spiritual Conversation: Buddhist Meditation Groups Forming
Mar 02, 2015 01:40AM
● By Nicole Miale
Lama Urgyan Zangpo
Meditation fundamentally means to remedy and heal; it is a vital component of any holistic health methodology designed to support an individual’s multifaceted capacity to transition across spiritual, mental, physical and social growth levels. Urgyan Zangpo, a Western Buddhist lama in the Vajrayana tradition, has dedicated decades of study and practice to his own spiritual work. In 2015, he began offering several holistic meditation programs that meet on a weekly basis to support local residents’ interest in applying traditional insights to their own experience. The programs take a comprehensive view of meditation and support this with what is called “spiritual conversation.” It is a dialogue based in our mutual capacity to recognize what is true. Cultivating this spiritual intelligence is the point of the conversation, which is as much energetic as conceptual. While the supportive context of group meditation and conversation is a great place to relax and renew, it is also meant to actualize our spiritual values.
“Buddha means wholeness,” says Lama Zangpo, who prefers the more informal address of Urgyan. “A Buddha is a whole human being. Wholeness comes from recognizing our own most spiritual truth, and then finding this commonality within each other and celebrating it in relationships enriched by mutual well-being and growth. It’s challenging in our culture, in which self-identity is over-emphasized, and separation and fragmentation are the norm. Ultimately what we’re seeking is full integration of our individuality within the whole, which is a paradox.”
A self-described “eager student of human behavior,” Urgyan’s own decades-long spiritual search took him across the country for extended periods in California and Oregon. More recently it led him up into Canada’s Yukon Territory for a four-year retreat, where he lived primarily in seclusion. “The exploration was inward and it was the best and most transformative experience of my life,” he says. Newly settled in the Danbury area, he is putting down roots and looking forward to nurturing like-minded individuals in northern Fairfield County. He began teaching three new “Meditating Holistically” groups in January, taking place in Danbury, Bethel and New Preston (see end of article for details), including one group sponsored by the Western Connecticut State University’s (WCSU) Institute for Holistic Health Studies. He views his teaching as a way to pay it forward: “I had the good fortune of teachers in my past and as a result was able to pull myself up by my spiritual bootstraps throughout life,” he explains. “As I now teach, I see it as sharing in the learning process. I am really drawn to people who know they are suffering limitations and want to heal and grow. Aiding them in that transformation is the best way I can be of service.”
Urgyan is committed to establishing meditation groups that are non-judgmental and safe environments where each individual may apply traditional Buddhist insights to his or her holistic integration. “We must eliminate the judgment and comparison so common in our culture. Self and mutual respect are essential elements of spiritual development,” he says. “There is no one place to begin; we’re always midstream in the spiritual inquiry. There are many paths up the mountain and a lot of room to see where everyone is at and encourage them their own journey.”
In addition to the group meditation work, Urgyan also offers private Buddhist counsel and guidance, bringing 40 years of study and practice, and 16 years of counseling and teaching as an ordained Buddhist lama to his clients’ challenges and opportunities. “If you can gather the resources to support your integration journey, the awakening of spirituality can be a profound and beautiful experience,” he says.
Nicole Miale is executive editor and publisher of Natural Awakenings Fairfield County. Connect with her at NicoleM@NaturalAwakeningsMag.com or 203-885-4674.