Marinella Sarmiento, an Adams Morgan massage therapist, became involved with meditation eight years ago through the Insight Meditation Community of Washington after a breakup left her searching for more meaning.
Sarmiento practices vipassana, or insight, meditation. It focuses on “anchors” such as breath and movement within the body to, among other things, center yourself in the present, quiet your mind, and relieve stress.
She says learning to sit still and connect with herself was a challenge: “If the present moment is newspaper, think of the mind as a puppy you’re trying to housebreak. Your mind will always leave the paper, and the practice is about bringing the puppy back.”
Many beginner classes start with guided meditation, in which a teacher speaks gently throughout the practice, reminding students to focus on their anchors. Dharma talks—discussions about tenets of Buddhism—often precede or follow the session. Beginner classes usually involve only a 15-to-30-minute meditation; fees are usually suggested donations.
Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 9, the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (202-986-2922; imcw.org) offers a Vipassana meditation class at Bethesda’s River Road Unitarian Church (6301 River Road) with teacher and author Tara Brach; an orientation for newcomers takes place at 7. (No classes in August.) A donation of $10 to $15 is suggested. Other classes and programs are offered there and throughout the area.
The Washington Mindfulness Community (mindfulnessdc.org) —a group devoted to the Buddhist teachings of Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh—holds a Sunday sitting and walking meditation at the Washington Buddhist Vihara (5017 16th St., NW) from 7 to 8 pm, with a dharma discussion at 8 and socializing at 9. Newcomer orientation takes place the last Sunday of the month at 6.
Other organizations offering classes, retreats, and informative Web sites include Vajrayogini Buddhist Center (202-331-2122; meditation-dc.org) and Shambhala Meditation Center of Washington, DC (301-588-7020; dc.shambhala.org) .