Student meditation groups face a variety of difficulties around acquiring funding, maintaining student leadership over time, inclusivity, or inadequate support from mentors or qualified meditation instructors. Dharma Gates acts as a third-party organization that supports student meditation groups in all of the above through connecting student leaders to one another, to practice centers, and to resources within the broader meditation community that might otherwise be inaccessible.
In addition to the expressed need of meditation groups, there is also a mental health epidemic college campuses. For example, surveys report that 40% of students experienced crippling depression and 61% experienced ‘overwhelming anxiety’ during the past year [ACHA]. This demonstrates a need for re-designing and re-evaluation of the culture on college campuses more broadly. Mindfulness and meditation practices, particularly ethically grounded and intensive practice, may provide an important tool in the healing this culture.
Many students remain suspicious of serious engagement with contemplative practice, as it is widely--but mistakenly--believed that Buddhism is a form of escapism. Some of this skepticism emerges because many Dharma communities have failed to respond to frameworks with which young people are learning to think in, such as environmentalism, cultural appropriation, intersectionality, and social justice activism.
Contemplative practice needs to be contextualized in a way that connects with the needs of young people and answers their doubts. This also involves recognizing that there are damaging trends within Buddhist communities that need to be addressed, and brought into conversation with these discourses.
Dharma Gates aims to support existing student groups in a variety of ways:
Through connecting student leaders to peers, opening doors to discussion and collective strategizing about how to best meet the needs of students.
Introducing students who already have a regular meditation practice or serious interest in meditation to intensive environments and retreat practice.
Assisting in organizing powerful programming and events on college campuses.
Contextualizing contemplative practice as a powerful tool to promote social good.
Introducing students to academic literature addressing common misconceptions about meditation practice and the ongoing debates within Dharma communities globally.
Giving students opportunities to share their experiences via our Student Blog.
Providing curated, high-quality resources to all dharma practitioners through our website Dive Into the Ocean and our resources page.