Blue Sky Sangha
65 Signal Hill Road
St. John's, NL
Canada A1A 1B2
Origins of the group:
The group is a Zen meditation group, the focus is on practice and not on ritual.
The Blue Sky Sangha was started in the winter of 2003. Gary Palen, one of the facilitators of the group went to a retreat in Quebec and then to France to the Monastery in Plum Village in 2003. He also participated in a Rakai group here and when the leader of this group left for India the group started going to Gary Palen's house and eventually it evolved into a meditation group. The meditation group follows the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and uses the texts "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" and "Breathe! You are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing" by Thich Nhat Hanh as guidelines.
Highlights of group's history: The group is happy that they have been able to inspire other people to go and study directly from the teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. They are also very pleased with the fact that through word of mouth alone the group has attracted between approximately 20 people from diverse backgrounds.
Present Goals of your group: The group itself has no "goals" as such other than trying to understand the teachings and put them into practice. They also wish to increase peacefulness, happiness, and a sense of community within the group.
Life in St. John's/in NL: It is most definitely an island culture. There is not as much religious or cultural diversity here as there is in bigger centers. However, there is a broad sense of community and a sort of inter-cooperation especially within the downtown scene.
Membership: The group has an open structure. There is no one leader and no rank or order. There is no official membership, people come and go as they please. All of the meditation sittings are performed in English. There are some ritual elements performed during the meditation sittings, but not a lot. The emphasis is on the practice itself and not the ritual. The group is interested in helping people find and follow a path that aids in their own personal evolution.
Leaders and contacts: The group has a facilitator rather than a "leader." This role is defined by people choosing to come to you because you can help them. Everyone has leadership roles, particularly within their own lives. Gary Palen is considered the founder as such because he has spent the most time at Plum Village.
The general public can contact Gary Palen or Judy Tobin and the phone number and email addresses listed above. Also, if anyone is interested they can drop by anytime to speak with Gary, Judy or Andy.
Facilities: The group has no physical facilities as they meet in private homes. For the most part, the meetings take place at 65 Signal Hill Road, but they do take place at the homes of other members as well. The Signal Hill Road location can currently accommodate a maximum of 20 people.
Information: Information about this group can be found on their group Facebook profile. There is also an email mailing list. Occasionally Gary Palen gives public talks, but these are not usually advertised.
Schedule of Events: The group holds a meditation session every Tuesday evening. This session often begins with vegetarian soup, homemade bread, tea, and free flowing conversation.