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2014 QC Times Article about Mindfulness for Busy People with Buddhist Monk Gen Kelsang Jampa

Buddhist monk encourages mindfulness by Linda Cook

Being busy isn’t a virtue.

Gen Kelsang Jampa, an American Buddhist monk, brought that message to his presentation on mindfulness for more than 150 people Sunday afternoon at the Quad-City Botanical Center, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island. Jampa of Dallas-Fort Worth is the Eastern U.S. national spiritual director of Kadampa Buddhism and the resident teacher of Kadampa Meditation Center Texas.

“Mindfulness for Busy People” got started a little late because so many people kept piling into the lecture room — in fact, doors to an extra room were opened to accommodate more people. Jampa was impressed at the number of attendees.

“Wow. So many busy people in the Quad-Cities!” he said. He used a lot of humor in his lecture, advising those attending about three or so hours before the Super Bowl kickoff, “You can think of this as a pre-game show.”

The presentation began with a breathing medication. Jampa advised everyone to sit comfortably with their backs straight, eyes partially closed, and hands folded comfortably in their laps. “Now you can mentally, completely relax … and stop thinking about anything,” he said. He led the group in a breathing exercise that left the room in such intense silence that the only audible noise was breathing.

After the meditation, Jampa said he was delighted to again be in the Quad-Cities, where he had visited about 2 ½ years ago, adding that he was able to see bald eagles who nest near the Mississippi River in the winter. He said that, unlike other bigger cities, Quad-City residents “haven’t quite bought into the hectic pace of modern life.”

But everywhere people feel their free time dwindling, he said. “Our calendars are getting booked up continuously,” he said. “Sometimes, I think that we’re a little bit worried about not being busy,” as if we might get into trouble if we weren’t, he said.

When people try to rest, their minds race and focus on “all the things that could go wrong. ... Our real problem is our busy, uncontrolled minds.” If people control their “wild-elephant minds,” they will have peace and bring peace to others, he said.

Mindfulness, he said, really means remembering. The best thing to focus our minds on is virtue, which he defined as what causes happiness, he said, and being considerate without harming or disturbing another person.

Marla Neuerburg of Rock Island enjoyed the presentation. “One of my goals this year was to be more mindful,” said Neuerburg, who has attended meditation classes regularly, held Tuesday nights at the botanical center. “I like the idea of being mindful with virtue, rather than just mindful,” she said, adding that the presentation helped her understand mindfulness a little more.

Eleanore DeSmet of Rock Island said she has read more than 15 books about Buddhism. “I’ve always had a little interest in Buddhism, but I’ve never participated,” she said. “It was terrific. It spoke to me. I might just come to Tuesday night classes.”

The Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center, on the second floor of 502 W. 3rd St., Davenport, where classes also are held, sponsored the lecture. For more information, call 563-322-1600.

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