Peace through meditation

Outside the door, about 50 pairs of shoes ranging from high-heels to flip-flops piled up against the wall.

Inside, barefooted people filled up every seat in the spacious Uptown building. They were all there for one purpose — finding peace in life through meditation.

The meeting at 3115 Hennepin Ave. S. was one of many around the world that were part of Tergar International, a Minneapolis-based network of meditation centers that spans four continents. Under the teachings of an internationally known Tibetan Buddhist, the members of Tergar are learning the value of mediation in everyday life.Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche started Tergar International a year ago, so his followers could come together and further their practice in his teachings through guided meditations and discussion.

Previously, progressing with Rinpoche’s teaching was only possible through his books or a retreat here or there.

Tergar offers weekly public meetings. At the meetings, which are free to attend, people are able to discuss and work through their struggles with the help of their peers and instructors.

Meditation as a practice has been around for thousands of years. But Rinpoche took the practice and translated it to an accessible skill with practicality in everyday life.

Myoshin Kelley, one of three instructors at Tergar in Minneapolis, said it is these factors that distinguish it from other teachings of meditation. It is also what makes it attractive to the people commuting to their meditation center every Tuesday night.

“He does not stress meditation in a strictly formal manner,” she said. “He teaches it as something that you can do anywhere or anytime.”

It is safe to say that the idea is catching on.

The number of people attending the meetings is rapidly increasing and the ages, background and experience of the participants is diverse. The varying backgrounds come together for the general purpose of improving their quality of life through meditation.

Jeanne Lakso, who has been meditating for 15 years, said the instructors combined with Rinpoche’s teachings make it possible for anyone to benefit from their time at the meetings.

“They make it accessible for anyone who wants to find a little peace in their lives, whether it be for self reflection or just getting along with the neighbors,” Lakso said.

Edwin Kelley, husband of Myoshin and an instructor at Tergar, said the curriculum of the meetings is based off Rinpoche’s first book, “The Joy of Living.” Each week dives deeper into the topics of the book, meant to create a better understanding of meditation.

At the end of class, the group is given meditation exercises to practice throughout the week; their struggles or successes are then detailed during the next week’s discussion, Edwin Kelly said.

For both new and regular members of the group, the ability to discuss with their peers what they are struggling with or a revelation they had is priceless.

Kelly McBride, who has attended Tergar regularly, said the book is a great resource, but it is difficult to truly benefit from what you learn without a community like Tergar.

“Having a teacher and people who are open to talking about their struggles allows you to go much deeper rather than just on a superficial level,” McBride said.

Minneapolis is the headquarters for Tergar International, chosen nearly two years ago following a meeting in India between Edwin Kelley and Rinpoche.

Edwin Kelley said the decision was largely based on the lack of a strong meditation community in Minneapolis, which is something he and his wife, along with Rinpoche are hoping to change.

Rinpoche regularly attends retreats and seminars to help the cause.  

With these appearances, Edwin Kelley said people are introduced to the charismatic Rinpoche, whose speeches are generally shaped around making mindfulness, love and kindness more accessible in life.

At a retreat in early July, 300 people attended a Rinpoche speech.

Myoshin Kelley said appearances by Rinpoche translated to increasing attendance at the weekly meetings.

Beth Carlson attended a recent speech. Impressed by the message, she started attending weekly meetings.

“Rinpoche just embodied joy and compassion, so if he is the main teacher, I have confidence in it,” Carlson said.

Increasing joy and compassion in life is a goal shared with all Tergar participants and instructors.  

“It is a great feeling to not have to be seeking out pleasure wherever you feel that it exists,” Edwin Kelley said. “This has a much deeper and more satisfying quality to it.”

For Myoshin Kelley, the hardships of life no longer have the impact they once had.

“Things in life don’t bother me the same way,” she said. “The ship is a little more stable these days.”


FYI
For more information about the Tergar Meditation Group, visit tergar.org/minneapolis. The weekly meditation group is free and open to anyone. It meets Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at Pathways, 3115 Hennepin Ave. S.