Cahaba River Sangha

Come be a part of a new community where you can be open and encouraged in your mindfulness practice

“When we sit together, we create a collective energy of mindfulness that is very powerful. When we sit with others, we profit from their quality of being and we profit from everyone’s practice.”

Thich Nat Hanh

What is a

Sanga?

A Sangha is a community of people practicing mindful living together in a caring and accepting environment. Aware that our speech and actions can help each other practice more deeply, we hold ourselves to a high standard of mindfulness. We practice with sincerity and respect for the teachings and practice as they have been taught to us by our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh and his students. We are also open to teachings of mindfulness where ever they may come from if they are wholesome and beneficial to us.

However:

  • you’re not joining a religion or changing your beliefs
  • you don’t have to struggle to focus or concentrate
  • it’s not difficult—anyone can do this

Thich Nhat Hanh Calligraphy

Cahaba River Sangha

Next Meeting TBA

Time: 7pm -8:00pm
Location: Hoover Public Library Room TBA

Meeting Agenda

  1. Introduction
  2. Sitting guided meditation (20 min)
  3. Mindfulness Teaching
  4. Sharing
  5. Closing

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Cahaba River Sangha

What to Expect
at a Sangha meeting

Our Sangha is open to all people regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or belief system.

Our meeting details will be announced here on our website, our social media, and by email.

We invite everyone to arrive 10-15 minutes early so that we can greet each other and approach the room with mindfulness and without hurry. This way, we all participate in the creation of our Sacred Practice Space.

Our meeting place varies and in most cases will provide chairs. We are invited to bring our own mats and cushions or benches if we want to sit on the floor. We are asked to leave our street footwear outside the circle.

We are invited to turn off our cell phones or their ringers. If we need to leave them on in case of emergency, we will put them on vibrate mode. If necessary, we will mindfully walk outside before taking the call so that the practitioners inside can continue to concentrate.

A sangha gathering is not a time to suffer, so comfort is important. We are all encouraged to take responsibility for our own well-being and to communicate our needs to the facilitator of the meeting within consideration for others. If someone has environmental sensitivities, they will let the facilitator know and we will refrain from burning incense or scented candles.

By the announced starting time we will all have taken our seats, so that everyone is ready and comfortable when the bell is invited. If we are late for sitting meditation, we will try to join the group without disruption or will sit just outside the group until the next transition (bell).
 
If our legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt during the sitting, we are free to adjust our position quietly by following our breathing. Aware of how our movements affect our fellow practitioners, we remain as still as we can comfortably be.

During the mindfulness teaching and sharing, we practice loving speech and deep listening. It is a special time for us to share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties and our questions relating to the practice of mindfulness. By learning to speak out about our happiness and our difficulties, we contribute to the collective insight and understanding of the sangha.

We do not engage in theoretical or abstract conversations about theories or texts but rather, we will only speak directly from our own experiences. We will refrain from characterizing the experiences of others, giving unsolicited advice, or inserting ourselves into their stories. By avoiding such “cross-talk,” we honor and safeguard each individual’s sharing. We will remember not to spread news that we do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure. We will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord.

By practicing deep listening while others are speaking, we help create a calm and receptive environment. Mindful of our own inner dialog, if we refrain from agreeing, disagreeing or wanting to respond, we can choose to come back to being present with the person speaking. By being witness to sangha members, we support healing, joy, and spiritual growth of the individual and ourselves.

Whatever is shared during sharing time is confidential. If a friend shares about a difficulty he or she is facing, we will respect that he or she may or may not wish to talk about this individually outside of the sangha discussion time.

Our sangha regularly recites the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Plum Village Tradition as well as the Seven Trainings of the Mind toward Diversity. Participation is optional.

Are You New to Mindfulness?

We welcome newcomers and visitors

If you have not had prior experience with meditation, we invite you to arrive about 15 minutes early for some instruction on sitting. Dress casually in comfortable, loose-fitting attire – dark clothing without graphics if possible.

Cahaba River Sangha

Get started

The Benefits of Mindfulness

by Dan Harris, ABC News Anchor

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What is Meditation?

by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Cahaba River Sangha

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

  • Try to find 3 points of contact on a cushion, bench, or chair.

  • Sit upright and straight but relaxed.

  • Relax your hands where ever they feel comfortable.

  • Close your eyes gently, or leave them half-open if you are tired.

  • If our legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt during the sitting, we are free to adjust our position quietly.

  • In the beginning, just feel where you feel your breath—maybe in your stomach, nose, or elsewhere and just rest your mind there.

  • We can maintain our concentration by following our breathing and slowly, and attentively change our posture.

Mindfull Breathing

Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. Regardless of our internal weather – our thoughts, emotions and perceptions – our breathing is always with us like a faithful friend.

Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind. Mindful breathing helps us go back to the island of self.

We feel the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. We feel how light and natural, how calm and peaceful our breathing functions. At any time, while we are walking, gardening, or typing, we can return to this peaceful source of life.

We may like to recite:

Breathing in “I know that I am breathing in”
Breathing out “I know that I am breathing out”

We do not need to control our breath. Feel the breath as it actually is. It may be long or short, deep or shallow. With our awareness, it will naturally become slower and deeper.

Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life.

Cultivation of Diversity

Our sangha seeks to cultivate the deep and rich diversity, in all aspects, that is found in our community. We aspire to make all people who seek to practice feel welcome and supported and to help them succeed on their path of practice. We seek to take actions to eliminate barriers, whether they are physical, economic, cultural, or attitudinal to the practice. As sangha members we all seek to diversify our relationships, commit to open-mindedness toward other points of view, examine our own beliefs and actions, and increase the compassion in how we live our lives and understand each other.

Thich Nhat Hahn

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the “engaged Buddhism” movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has also received recognition for his work with Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of accessible poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love,The Path of Emancipation, and Anger. In September 2001, just a few days after the suicide terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech at Riverside Church in New York City. In September of 2003 he addressed members of the US Congress, leading them through a two-day retreat.

Thich Nhat Hanh continues to live in Plum Village in the meditation community he founded, where he teaches, writes, and gardens; and he leads retreats worldwide on “the art of mindful living.”

Teachings

Thich Nhat Hanh’s key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Dwelling in the present moment is, according to Nhat Hanh, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Mindfulness Resources

How do you get a calm mind?

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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How Can I Trust Myself?

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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A Cloud Never Dies

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Discovering Wisdom

by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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How do I stay in the present moment when it feels unbearable?

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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How does Thay calm down someone in rage?

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Why So Many Americans Are Turning to Buddhism

The Atlantic (Article)

I’m culturally a Christian – but in every other way, a Buddhist

Lion’s Roar (Article)

Mobile Apps

Plum Village
Insight Timer
Ten Percent Happier
Calm

Podcasts

Thich Nhat Hanh Dharma Talks
Ten Percent Happier
Buddhist Boot Camp
Buddhism Guide
The 12 Concepts of Service
  1. The ultimate responsibility and authority for Al-Anon world services belongs to the Al-Anon groups.
  2. The Al-Anon Family Groups have delegated complete administrative and operational authority to their Conference and its service arms.
  3. The right of decision makes effective leadership possible.
  4. Participation is the key to harmony.
  5. The rights of appeal and petition protect minorities and insure that they be heard.
  6. The Conference acknowledges the primary administrative responsibility of the Trustees.
  7. The Trustees have legal rights while the rights of the Conference are traditional.
  8. The Board of Trustees delegates full authority for routine management of Al-Anon Headquarters to its executive committees.
  9. Good personal leadership at all service levels is a necessity. In the field of world service the Board of Trustees assumes the primary leadership.
  10. Service responsibility is balanced by carefully defined service authority and double-headed management is avoided.
  11. The World Service Office is composed of selected committees, executives and staff members.
  12. The spiritual foundation for Al-Anon’s world services is contained in the General Warranties of the Conference, Article 12 of the Charter.

Al-Anon’s Twelve Concepts of Service, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

The 12 Traditions
  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern.
  3. The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
  4. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.
    Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.
  5. Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.
  6. Our Family Groups ought never endorse, finance or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always co-operate with Alcoholics Anonymous.
  7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

Al-Anon’s Twelve Traditions, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

The 12 Steps
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.