Want to quiet your mind from the constant chatter going inside your head? Meditation can provide a path to a more serene state of being, and help relax not only your mind but your body. One of the groups with a strong presence on M.V. is the Island Insight Meditation Community (IIMC), which is dedicated to developing mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion in those who meditate, for the benefit of everyone. They offer regular meditation, teaching, and discussion opportunities to support one’s meditation practice in daily life.
Laura Coit, who joined the group some six years ago, said, “What I like most is that it supports my meditation practice and connects me with community. There is nothing you have to believe in to join the group, you only have to bring your willingness to explore meditation practice. Often through the teachings, the questions and answers, the openness of the community, wisdom about living life is revealed, and at once there is comfort in the sense that, yes, this follows your own experience and is deeply true. You feel this heartfully; it brings truths to light that allow you to live more gracefully and with less reactivity.”
“I like the warmth and friendliness and the emphasis on qualities like kindness, generosity, and compassion. And knowing that everyone there is also sincerely engaged in making the world better through their own intentions. I take this home with me, and it supports my daily life,” adds Coit.
Although IIMC is rooted in the teachings of Buddha, there is no need to identify as a Buddhist and, likewise, there is no formal membership. They welcome people of all gender identities, cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, classes, spiritual traditions, abilities, and ages. IIMC is committed to providing a sanctuary and safe space for all who come to practice — and you will be welcome whether you have been meditating for 20 years, 20 minutes, or are simply curious.
The guiding teacher, Chas DiCapua, has come to the Island one Saturday a month since 2009 to offer teaching and meditation instruction. DiCapua said that the group serves two very important roles for people who are searching for meaning and happiness in their lives.
“It provides people with a 2,500-year-old proven methodology with which they can find the meaning and happiness they are looking for. The practices are clear, not esoteric, and available to everyone regardless of religious background or belief,” DiCapua said. “The practice is not about becoming a Buddhist, it’s about becoming a free human being. IIMC also provides a community in which one can explore these practices. As many are aware, one of the devastating impacts of modern culture is that people feel isolated and without community. It is essential for one to be able to practice with and be affirmed by others on a similar path.”
The community’s website provides a description of their approach, calling it a simple, yet profound meditation practice that has the ability to transform how we experience the world. “Through the cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness, we experience life as it truly is, which leads to a more harmonious relationship with ourselves and the world around us,” the website reads. “In time, the thoughts and behaviors that get in the way of our true happiness are seen clearly and let go of, resulting in a deep and abiding contentment in the heart and mind.”
Karen English, who has been participating for eight years, said that her meditation practice “has been the most compelling, intense, challenging, captivating, mind-boggling, gentle, soft, enjoyable, fun experience of my life.”
English said she’s followed different spiritual paths for 40 years, but has found a home with the IIMC. “With Island Insight Meditation Community and Insight Meditation Society, I have found a home, a tribe, and a path to be in the world,” English said. “This training is less about intellectual/cognitive growth than it is about heartfelt opening. So it has taken me awhile to get in the groove. I can tell when I feel less reactivity to what goes on in my mind, which is such a relief, and then I have space to allow a joy to come forth [that] makes me happy.”
One Saturday a month, DiCapua offers a half-day retreat, with teaching and meditation, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Society Church in Vineyard Haven. IIMC also meets four other times during the month for silent meditation, book club, and Soup and Sangha (sangha means community, where they meet at someone’s house and share food and discussion). Go to islandinsight.org/events for times and locations of each.
There will be a weekend nonresidential April retreat at the Chilmark Community Center that will include both sitting and walking silent meditation, dharma talks, mindful movement, and Q and As with DiCapua. You can attend one or both days, although if you wish to just attend one, Saturday is recommended. Participation is free, but donations will be accepted. Information and registration can be found at islandinsight.org/nov-2017-retreat-1.
For details on all programs, please visit the IIMC website at islandinsight.org.