“Anything you do can be incorporated because it depends on the mind in which you do something, so you can always have a peaceful, loving, enjoyable, heart centered feeling at work, with friends, with family; especially when things are stressful. It’s a practical practice. It’s not just about sitting formally.” — Joe Giacona, Meditation Teacher at KMC Williamsburg Branch

On the Northside of Williamsburg, inside one of the many new towers that have arisen, sits Kadampa Meditation Center — a cozy, peaceful space with bright walls, golden Buddhas and very chill teachers. In this busy town, coming back to ourselves for simple, quiet reflection is increasingly difficult. Even in this space of North Brooklyn that boasts apothecaries, yoga studios, and new age classes, we can struggle to find that which we are all searching for: Peace and Happiness.

Enter Joe Giacona, a volunteer and Teacher, who’s been helping run the Kadampa Meditation Center of Williamsburg for years by setting up in various yoga studios throughout Greenpoint. (It’s only recently this branch of the New Kadampa Tradition found a permanent home at 119 North 11th Street between Bedford & Berry). This self proclaimed “goof” exudes a sense of serene happiness. As he talks about meditating on love and compassion in simple routine times like your daily commute, you realize that steps towards enlightenment aren’t nearly as stressful as they’re made out to be.

“Meditating on Love is just recognizing somebody wants to be happy … and you have the same the wish … If people could just meditate on that alone, the world’s problems would just cease. You’d recognize we are all in it for the same thing. We’re not on these different sides; getting stuck and entrenched in our views, thinking you’re right and they’re wrong. No, we all just want to be happy.” — Joe Giacona, Meditation Teacher at KMC Williamsburg Branch

”The path to enlightenment, It shouldn’t be this hard intense rigid experience all the way to complete happiness, It’s should be a joyful experience leading to another joyful experience,” says Joe. During their mediations at the center, they work towards “Just enjoying what’s coming up, and not judging it.” It’s by relaxation and looking within, one can start to take lessons taught by the leader of the Kadampa tradition, Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyasto, and practically use them in busy professional and personal lives.

A few of the over 24 books Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has written on enlightenment, modern Buddhism, and steps toward including it in our busy lives. “Born in Tibet in 1931 and ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of eight, Geshe Kelsang then studied in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the titled “Geshe”, which literally means ‘spiritual friend.'” — the Kadampa Mediation Center’s Website.

Classes begin with breathing exercises and focusing inward. Though if you’ve had a great day, “you can come in and start with hanging on to that special joyful feeling”. Once everyone’s mind is settled the teacher will lead everyone into a guided meditation. Generally, there will be a focus, say love or attachment, that the class will begin to explore within.

Entry to Kadampa Mediation Center on North 11th, between Berry and Bedford Ave.

There are both after-work classes (30 minutes, $5) and general classes during weeknights (60 minutes, $15). Class sizes can range from 10 to 30 people; their busiest days occurring early in the week. For a full list of their classes, see their schedule here. It’s a volunteer run organization and all funds are used to pay for rent and upkeep of the space only.

A bright space for socializing with other spiritual seekers through good food and coffee. Stop by every third Sunday at 11am for meditation, followed by a community potluck!

If you’re interested in this spiritual community, check out their Sunday, 11 am class that includes a coffee and chat afterwards. Every third Sunday, they hold a potluck lunch to hold fellowship with like-minded and light-hearted individuals around delicious home cooked meals.

You might even find yourself saying, ““Wow, that just wasn’t what I thought it would be. This is fun.” 

Kadampa Meditation Center is located on 119 N 11th St, Brooklyn, and is open from Monday (7 – 8:30pm), Wednesday, and Thursday (6:30pm-9pm); Sat (10:30am-1pm) and Sun (11am-12:30pm). They are closed Tuesday and Fridays. Email or visit their site for more info and follow them on Facebook.

Sponsored by Kadampa Meditation Center of Williamsburg: The Williamsburg Branch of the Kadampa Meditation Center was established over 13 years ago to provide people in the Brooklyn area with the opportunity to learn about and practice Buddha’s teachings. To fulfill this aim, we have created a peaceful city sanctuary located in the heart of Williamsburg. Based on the books of the modern day Buddhist teacher, Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, we present Buddha’s teachings in an accessible manner that can easily be integrated into our modern lives.

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