Tucked away on Hanson Court is a building devoted to amplifying peace within the minds, bodies, and spirits of all those who enter it.
Run as a nonprofit organization, Bodhi Meditation opened nine years ago in Milpitas. The practice of Bodhi Meditation was founded by Master JinBodhi back in 1991; since then, he has been spreading his teachings throughout the world. Currently, there are over 30 centers across 11 countries. And this year, the organization is celebrating its 28-year anniversary.
The Milpitas center is one of two in the Bay Area. The other is in San Francisco, located on Ocean Avenue.
Th Milpitas location has a large Main Hall, used for their classes and events; they also have 2 classrooms where practitioners can stop in for practice. Their hours are from 6am to 9pm, and during that time, anybody is welcome to come in for meditation. Guided music plays there throughout the day.
The center also contains offices, along with a Kids Caring Room, full of toys and books. Parents can bring their children there during events. Toward the front of the open space lobby is a gift shop, where they sell things like blessing beads. And every day, Bodhi Meditation provides a free vegetarian lunch, which about 50-60 people partake in. That number can go up to around 100, if there’s a special training of some kind. A resting room is also available for everyone to eat and socialize.
In 2018, at Bodhi’s Milpitas and San Francisco locations, 24,000 people came out to take part in one of their signature Walking Meditation courses.
PR Director Penny Wang described their meditation techniques as unique, and spoke of how their guided meditation works to use one thought to replace millions of other thoughts that might be stewing in the mind…
“We’re not just sitting and counting breaths. We don’t recommend for people to count the breath. We teach people how to obtain energy,” said Wang. “When the energy enters your body, it knows how to find the root. So you don’t need to guide the energy. Chi is the energy. This way of meditation boosts the energy level. We combine not just movements, but also visualization, body, mind, and speech to connect to the divine universe. We have a lot of unique ways to fit people’s unique needs.”
Five years ago, Wang was working as an Intel Manager. Her speciality was in chip design, a path she had been on for 25 years. She spent many hours on planes, traveling to places like China, Taiwan, France, and Germany. But she was overwhelmed, and feeling called to do something else.
At one point, she became immersed in locating a bug in one of her projects, but just couldn’t seem to find it. She spent about a month fixated on this one thing, but for whatever reason, could come up with no answers. During that time, she developed severe insomnia.
She just so happened to pick up a copy of Meditation & Health, a magazine produced by Bodhi Meditation, in front of a grocery store. She had heard that people were able to heal their insomnia through meditation, so she thought it might be worth a shot. Soon, she was coming to the center to try meditation. Feeling she had nothing to lose, she started practicing what the instructors recommended — and that same day, she was able to fix her bug.
Also, she could finally sleep again. And not only that, but she was sold on the practice of meditation.
Soon after that, she joined their retreat class for eight and a half days. In one of her classes, she witnessed a classmate with a Parkinson’s-type disease becoming more mobile and taking steps to go to the bathroom within 4 days of starting meditation.
At that point, Wang was all in. Soon, she left her job and committed herself to the path of working as a volunteer for the Milpitas center.
“We don’t really have employees here,” explained Wang. “Everyone here is a volunteer. We still need to grow. So that the organization can last longer.”
To keep the operation running, 50 to 60 volunteers support the center each week, whether it’s through teaching, cleaning, or even sitting at the front desk.
Many families cook food and donate it to the community. Others might help with printing costs and other expenses.
Some volunteers who work at places like Intel, Google, and Apple will make donations, and ask their companies to match those donations.
The center also applies for grants throughout the year. And some individuals and companies donate specifically toward paying the center’s volunteers for their hard work — work which often extends beyond the center, as well…
Often, volunteers will go out and teach at community centers and even high-tech companies. Bodhi Meditation also works with Uplift Family Services, an organization that has been in existence for over 150 years, helping children and families who are struggling with things like trauma, addiction, depression, and anxiety. Uplift also helps with mental health and basic needs. Since its employees must often deal with heavy issues, Bodhi Meditation volunteers come out to their Campbell and Saratoga offices to guide them through meditations. And they do it all for free.
They’ve also been hired by other places, like LinkedIn or Mavell’s HR global team, to come and work with meditation and team-building.
Over the last several years, Wang has witnessed so many situations that have shown her just how valuable Bodhi Meditation’s work in the community is…
“Some time ago, there was a lady who came in. She had a tumor, which caused her joints and body to be in pain. She could only lay down. She moved like an older lady but was only 50-something,” said Wang. “She stayed with us for 8 months meditating. Then…she was able to go on a cruise and did a dancing completion there. She won the prize.”
Wang mentioned that she’s seen so many miracles occurring that it’s become normal to her.
“This is a mission,” said Wang. “It’s a good deed to help people. I know people are in need and suffering, so I think it’s worth it to do this.”