If you have ever taken the Crowfoot C-Train line to the downtown, you’ve like caught a quick glance at the Avatamsaka Monastery. Overlooking the Bow River, this little d-spot adds cultural richness to an otherwise bland business zone with its impressive front entrance and colourful decorations. Having seen the monastery daily on my way to work, I needed to check it out. Thanks to the bucket list, I finally got off my butt to do it.
The sessions (which run from 7 to 9 PM) start out with walking in silence for 20 minutes. There are sandals provided, though not required. I found this out after having gone through the exercise wearing ones that were 3 sizes too small (making comical little flapping noises when I walked). Incense is then lit, and everyone sits in meditation for an hour. I didn’t know exactly what to be thinking about, and so my mind raced in panic. 45 minutes in, my mind gave up, exhausted from grinding away. It was 15 minutes of nice mental calm :-)
After that, there’s a discussion about the Dharma and the cultivation of compassion. Having pretty much drunken away the finer points of my Buddhist philosophy courses, this was an enjoyable experience. After that was some singing and bowing, which was fun although my Chinese pronunciation sucks as bad as my ability to bow.
The Avatamsaka Monastery is located next to the 10th Street bridge connecting to Kensington. Their website has contact information and a schedule of events. Meditation sessions are walk-in, so if the mood strikes you just show up. Comfy, plain clothes are highly recommended.
There’s occasionally an all-day meditation session. Some current nicknames I’ve given the event are “Meditate-athon” and “Buddhafest”.