It sounds like you’re a little nervous and unsure what to expect. That’s okay—Buddhists talk about the value of “not-knowing,” after all. But we do have some tips.
First: do some googling to see what your options are. And you’ll find a helpful directory of Buddhist centers right in the back of Lion’s Roar magazine or Buddhadharma. Visit centers’ websites and social media to get a sense of the tradition and teachings they represent. Which ones reflect what’s drawn you to Buddhism? Look for special beginner-friendly and drop-in events.
Here are some things to keep in mind for your visit to a center:
- You’re under no obligation to do anything you don’t want to—and you’re free to leave if you don’t like the feel of the place.
- That said, Buddhist practice is often about letting go, so try your best to have a spirit of playful experimentation. Bowing or chanting may be outside of your experience, but you’re there to try something new. Don’t worry about getting things wrong, because that’s expected.
- Centers often rely on generosity to function. You are free to make a donation but not obligated.
- Different communities have different feels—some are mostly silent, some are talkier, and so on. Keep looking and soon you’ll find one where you feel at home.