Cambridge Insight Meditation Center

Cambridge Insight Meditation Center#

  • Name of Center: Cambridge Insight Meditation Center
  • Address: 331 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
  • Phone Number: (617) 441-9038
  • Website:
  • Contact Email: n/a
  • Tradition(s): Insight Meditation - Affiliated with IMS
  • Technique(s): Vipassana, Metta, Mindfulness Yoga.
  • Teacher(s): Larry Rosenberg, Narayan Liebenson Grady, Michael Liebenson Grady.
  • Cost: Daily sittings are free; talks and events are $5; weekly groups, workshops, and non-residential retreats have various fees. Membership is a $300 a year suggested donation, which gets you a code for building access during the day, library borrowing privileges, access to teachers, and discounts on classes.
  • Accommodations: None, except for a few positions (as in 2 or 3) for residents at the center.
  • Facilities: CIMC has been in the same 3-story house in Cambridge for decades. There is a large meditation hall on the third floor, and a smaller meditation room in the basement. The library on the second floor has a table for in-house reading.
  • Physical Setting: 10 minutes north of the Central Square T stop in Cambridge, MA.
  • Food (Vegetarian/Vegan/etc.): Apparently, meals are provided for retreatants. I can't testify to their content or quality as I have never sat a retreat here.
  • Retreat Length(s): The range spans from one morning to several days.
  • Typical Schedule: It's complicated, see website. The regular offerings include free sittings at 7am and 6pm each weekday, and the "Dharma Night" program on Wednesday evenings. Every Wednesday, a teacher gives a talk and answers questions from the audience. Beginners' Drop-in guided meditation on Tuesday nights is nearly as popular as the talks.
  • Typical 1-Day Retreat Schedule
    • 9:00 am Sit
    • 9:45 Orientation
    • 10:00 Walk
    • 10:30 Sit
    • 11:15 Walk
    • 11:45 Sit
    • 12:30 pm Lunch
    • 2:00 Sit
    • 2:45 Walk
    • 3:15 Sit
    • 4:00 Walk
    • 4:30 Sit
    • 5:15 Discussion/Tea
    • 6:00 End of Retreat
  • Issues of Taboos around attainment, real practice, disclosing insights, etc.: As this is a loose community of practitioners rather than a formal retreat setting, it is not possible for the powers that be to prevent discussion of taboo subjects. I got the sense that people who use the CIMC are all over the place on this. However, I was not deeply involved in the community, so I don't know what the subtler culture is like. If you use the center simply as a support for daily practice, other peoples' nonsense can't affect you.

(during a q+a after a dharma talk by a guest speaker, someone mentioned that he had attained some level of awakening using the "neti-neti" method. one of the practitioners responded by quietly saying "wow", so while this was received with a level of surprise, it seems like a fine place to share experience publically.) ahandle

  • Issues of Rites/Rituals: Some bow to teachers and icons, some don't.
  • Issues of Proper Dress: Better wear socks, because you'll have to take your shoes off in the hall.
  • Issues of Etiquette: It's unclear whether people coming to daily sittings want to make eye contact and be friendly, or avoid eye contact and be silent.
  • Issues of Language: All English all the time.
  • Health Issues: n/a
  • Logistical Issues: The parking lot is very small, and it could take up to an hour to get here on public transportation from parts of Boston. There are public lots nearby for overflow. Parking is not a problem at 7am.
  • Strengths: The CIMC has many strengths. The place is very busy, and has a great spacious retreat-center atmosphere. If you happen to live in Cambridge, it can become a part of your daily life without great expense. The library is awesome -- they have all the classics, and also back issues of Buddhist journals and magazines. There is room for growth here with several weekly meditation groups oriented towards experienced practitioners. Can be a good place to meet like-minded people in Boston. The weekly dharma talks feature an impressive schedule of dharmic celebrities, which means it's also a good place to check out various teachers.
  • Weaknesses: The community is mostly boomers. Daily sittings are led by long-time members, which means that they can be inconsistent. Most practice leaders will simply ring a bell at the end of the session, some will say something metta-related, and one audacious lady felt the need to read to us from a Ticht Naht Hahn book for 5 minutes. The interruptions can be disturbing if you're really into your practice.
  • Other Comments: Most people have their first meditation experience on a retreat, and then have a very hard time maintaining daily practice on their own. The CIMC helps people bridge the gap between retreats and their daily lives. If you are in that weird stage where you really want to practice every day, have an easy time at retreats, but find it utterly impossible to meditate in your bedroom by yourself, get yourself to an urban retreat center! I was amazed at how easy it was to spend 2.5 hours every weekday going to this place.
  • Overall Impression: Like stepping into a serious retreat center, and then stepping out again when it's time to go to work.
  • Worthy of recommendation on the Dharma Overground? Yes, if you happen to live in Boston.
0 Attachments
Average (0 Votes)