On Sunday, dressed in a saffron-and-burgundy robe, Gen Kelsang Nordin — with a soothing English-accented voice and inspirational words — emphasized to students the importance of gaining control of their minds.
Gen (meaning Sister) Nordin, a practitioner of meditation in the Tibetan Kadampa tradition, was addressing the opening day of a three-week course at the Vajravarahi Meditation Center, which has just relocated from Hampton Bays to Sag Harbor. Through meditation and other tools, she said, it is possible to attain happiness and a state of general tranquillity.
The center, which opened on Feb. 1 at 112 Hampton Road, is open to anyone interested in daily prayers or guided meditation classes, regardless of religious beliefs.
Sitting beside a 20-foot altar set with flowers, bowls of water, crystals, and statues of the Buddha, Gen Nordin guided about 20 students through stages of prayer, silent concentration, and discussion; they sat shoeless on comfortable chairs, or on pillows on the floor, taking care to straighten their backs and relax their necks and shoulders.
The Vajravarahi space is simply designed and decorated, with clean hardwood floors, 22 chairs, many pillows, and an Asian rug. A small shelf is filled with books and CDs with such titles as “Understanding the Mind” and “Meditation to Make Our Life Happy and Meaningful.” Shoes are left near the door. After class, students are invited to help themselves to cups of tea from a decorative urn set on a table, and join in casual conversation.
Some in attendance on Sunday were regulars at the center’s previous location; others had come in for the first time. The primary goal of this introductory series is to teach them how to deal with anger, frustration, and other agitating states of mind. Gen Norden explained that the practice of patience does not involve the gritting of teeth, or ignoring problems, but facing challenges while remaining calm, accessing inner resources of peace and wisdom. She said that during the next few weeks, students will learn how to cultivate — instead of being victims of — their habit-based mind.
Gen Norden emphasized the value of these techniques in practical terms (with no pressure to believe or accept any religious dogma). So far, she said, the center has been “very well received by the community.”
A Peace of Mind open house will be offered on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information and a schedule of ongoing events can be found at meditationinthehamptons.org.