My Spanish teacher of all people informed me about Shambhala Meditation Center. For those of us looking for some stress relief, a better functioning brain, a deeper connection with our inner selves, or any of the other numerous benefits of meditation, look no further than this haven of peace in Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood– which holds free meditations open to the public on Friday evenings.
Though based in Buddhist teachings, I learned that Shambhala is open to all people, religious or non-religious; its ultimate aim is to create an enlightened society in which humanity treats each other better. Therefore, Shambhala does not include any time of worship or religious ceremony.
What to Expect
Rather, for first-time attendees, there is an instruction at the beginning that teaches the meditation technique and in which you can discuss your experience with or questions about meditation. The technique used at this particular center is simply sitting still, focusing on your breath and maintaining body awareness, and actually keeping your eyes open. The aim is not to necessarily stop thinking, but to not be attached to or distracted by your thoughts. Ultimately, this will lead to a more relaxed state of mind and a more profound awareness of the present moment– not worrying about the future or ruminating over the past.
Later, you can join the rest of the meditators in a spacious room. Everyone is provided with cushions to sit on. At the front of the room is the leader of the meditation group and a small altar containing candles and flowers. The room is completely silent. It can be difficult, especially for newcomers, to sit in such silence with your thoughts, trying not to be distracted or disturbed by them. Regardless, the exercise itself of trying to detach from your thoughts is relaxing enough whether or not you are ultimately successful!
Then, every so often, the leader of the meditation group will announce, “meditación caminando,” or the time in which everyone walks around in circles in the room for a few minutes. I found this part to be a bit peculiar but an interesting alternative to seated meditation!
The meditations are free and are held every Friday from 7:30 P.M. to 9:15 P.M. It is not necessary to attend the entire 1 hour and 45 minute session (unless you want to!)- it is okay to arrive late or leave early (as long as you do so quietly, of course). However, if it is your first time and you’d like to attend the instructional session, that does begin at 7:30 P.M. My Spanish teacher is now the person who teaches this part!
Shambhala Meditation Center is located at Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 77, principal 1a. It is in the Gracia neighborhood near metro Fontana (green line).