Meditation at the Men's Shelter

Each Tuesday evening, a group of between five and ten men staying at the men’s shelter gather for meditation. The group talks about their lives - the challenges and the joys - and how they see meditation as a resource for empowering themselves. Brian Durel, one of the shelter’s interns who trained for four years at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, guides the men through the meditation period. This partnership with Upaya began in January of this year, and the group has met every week since.

Brian starts with inviting the group to ground themselves in their bodies, tapping into a state of equanimity by simply feeling how the floor and chairs support each person’s feet, sit-bones, and back. “The research and methods of grounding are well respected," Brian says. "People like Laurie Leitch, who developed the Social Resilience Model for working with stress or trauma, show how coming into our bodies like this can elevate our mood if we’re depressed or sooth our nervous system if we’re stressed."

Once the group is grounded, he asks the group to recall their intention to reduce the suffering in their lives, their relationships, and the people with whom they’re in relationship. Then, he instructs the group to rest their awareness on their breath, feeling each inhalation and each exhalation without the need to change anything. “When the mind wanders,” he guides, “or you hear a sound in the next room, just gently note the sound or thought without judgment, gently let go, and then return to the breath.” He pauses frequently, reminding the group to return again and again with patience.