Life can be hard sometimes. Ailments can creep up on us, work can be stressful, and even travel—especially a long-haul flight in a short-haul seat—can make you feel like you should have stayed at home. But while many of us have thought about trying meditation as a way to tackle the troubles of modern-day existence, it often becomes one of those things you put on the back burner and never get around to.
In Richmond, though, there’s a perfect way to give it a try. And it won't even cost you a penny. Bodhi Meditation runs free, drop-in classes at its large, city-centre facility every Thursday evening. They’re a great way to discover an energy-based health and wellness technique that could be just what you’ve been looking for.
“Meditation is for everyone: it’s easy to do and learn about. You don't need to be religious and you don’t even need to know how it works to feel the benefits,” says Arlene Kroeker, vice-chair of Bodhi’s teaching department, as she walks us around the colourful, warmly inviting facility on Alderbridge Way.
Try a free, drop-in meditation class. | Photo: Bodhi Meditation
What’s it all about?
Divided into several expansive halls with high ceilings—including a tranquil space flickering with glowing candles—Kroeker explains that Bodhi is a meditation school and not a temple. “You don't at all have to be Buddhist to try meditation. We have people from all religions and nationalities coming here,” she says, confirming her own Christian background.
Relaxation, she adds, is the key. “But you don't have to be relaxed before you arrive—we’ll help you with that! We want people to feel cared for and then leave with an energy tank that’s starting to fill up.” She also believes meditation is an ideal educational activity for visitors. “Travel is a really good opportunity to try something you might not do at home,” she says.
The outside of the Bodhi Meditation facility. | Photo: Bodhi Meditation
How does it work?
Richmond’s Bodhi Meditation facility opened in 2005. Since then, it has welcomed thousands of first-timers—including lots of out-of-town visitors—to its Thursday evening Meditation Practice. Loose and comfortable clothing is recommended, and you can bring your own indoor shoes or use the slippers provided by the centre.
The guided classes are aimed at people from all walks of life, especially those new to meditation. Each session starts with a 30-minute Greater Illumination, a standing meditation that sets the tone for the evening. This is followed by a Meditation of Purity, a seated approach that delivers purity and wisdom while working to clear your mind.
The next step is an Energy Healing, which includes music, singing, and the guiding voice of Master JinBodhi. This step typically has the most dramatic physical effects with participants feeling tingling or even sweating as they begin to brim with energy. “When you fill with energy like this, your problems begin to disappear,” says Kroeker.
After the meditation—which can also help reduce stress, boost immunity, and improve memory—tea is served and both regulars and newbies (there are often a dozen first-timers at the class each week) mingle and chat about their experiences. “It’s very social and people often have lots of stories to tell,” Kroeker says.
Everyone is welcome at the centre. | Photo: Bodhi Meditation
The centre’s teachings were developed by Master JinBodhi, who was born into poverty and sickness in small-town China in the 1960s. During his childhood, he was helped by a lama and began to learn about the practice of meditation. Over many years of intensive study and training, he deepened his understanding and began sharing his approach.
He moved to Canada in 1999, and opened the world’s first Bodhi Meditation centre in Richmond in 2005, aiming to spread his techniques for health and happiness far and wide. There are now 30 Bodhi facilities around the globe, from Peru to Romania and from the US to South Africa.
There's always a warm welcome at the centre. | Photo: Bodhi Meditation
Why try it?
“We have so many stories about how meditation has helped people with everything from tinnitus to long-term pain to recovering from serious accidents,” says Kroeker, adding that free one-on-one Energy Healing sessions can also be booked at the facility. And if meditation is something you become connected to, there are also additional workshops and multi-day retreats available. “Meditation gives hope to people,” Kroeker adds. “And we’re all about showing everyone how to have their best life.”