Arlington Buddhist temple offers place to find inner peace

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

A closer look

Kadampa Meditation Center Texas

609 Truman St., Arlington

817-303-2700 or info@meditationintexas.org; meditationintexas.org

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

ARLINGTON -- At the end of one of the hardest weeks of her life, Debbie Phillips found a few minutes of much-needed peace at Kadampa Meditation Center Texas, a Buddhist temple that sits just a few long Tony Romo passes southwest of Cowboys Stadium.

Phillips of North Richland Hills had lost her mother a few days earlier. Seeking comfort and answers, she was among a stream of visitors during an open house last weekend.

"I feel so much better now," she whispered to her friend Terry Normand of Fort Worth after participating in a short guided meditation Saturday afternoon.

The temple at 609 Truman St. serves as a visitor center, bookstore and gift shop, in addition to offering meditation classes.

Its beautiful Buddha statues symbolize some of the key aspects of the New Kadampa Tradition, which was founded primarily by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, whose translated teachings are available for purchase.

Buddhism, founded in India in about 500 B.C., can be whatever a practitioner wants, said Kelsang Chogo, the center's administrative director.

"Some see it as a spiritual path," she said. "Some see it as a way of life. Some see it as a religion. Some see it as all three."

Benefits of meditation

People wanting to learn about meditation and to have a peaceful place in which to practice it are welcome at the center, which has Sunday morning, Wednesday evening and lunch-hour guided sessions twice a week.

Meditation is increasingly mainstream, with medical studies looking at its benefits, thousands of apps available for download and even the tough-as-nails Marine Corps exploring its uses for battlefield preparation.

Experts like Dr. Mehmet Oz, of The Dr. Oz Show, and Dr. Mike Roizen, of Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, recommend meditating at least 10 minutes daily.

One recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging suggested that mindfulness meditation -- focused attention on breathing to develop increased awareness of the present -- may be associated with measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion.

Another study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggested that eight weeks of meditation may have an effect on brain function that persists even when someone is not meditating.

Marine Corps officials also are testing a series of brain-calming exercises called "Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training" that they believe could enhance the performance of troops.

"Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices, but this goes way beyond that," said Jeffery Bearor, executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Va.. "This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress."

Local temples

Other Buddhist temples are in Keller, Rendon, Arlington, Irving and Grand Prairie. Huong Dao Temple, one of the newest in Texas, opened in October 2011 on East Rosedale Street in Fort Worth.

The three-level structure has an entrance festooned with dragons and features a 9-foot-tall Buddha made of Burmese marble.

The Rev. Pannakara Tue Nhan, a monk and student of Duc's, said last year that interest in Buddhism is growing in the U.S. Many non-Buddhists come to the temple to meditate and find a restful place, he said in August.

"I think now a lot of Americans are looking for inner peace," Nhan said. "In a busy society, Buddhism can become a comfort to people. Many come here just for meditation and don't care so much about religion."

At the Arlington temple, the resident teacher is Gen Kelsang Jampa, an American Buddhist monk who also serves as national spiritual director for the New Kadampa Tradition.

The Arlington temple was renovated under Geshe Kelsang's guidance and "is part of an international spiritual community dedicated to achieving world peace through following the Buddhist path," according to its website.

Visitors are welcome to take tours Mondays and Tuesdays, said Chogo, the administrative director.

Phillips, who cared for her mother, described her as "my best friend."

Not only was she dealing with grief but also uncertainty about whether there is life after death, and if so, what its nature is.

The few minutes of meditation Saturday, she said, at least momentarily lifted much of her burden.

"It's the first time since she died that I've felt like myself," Phillips said. "That's what she would want me to do."

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Patrick M. Walker,

682-232-4674

Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?