937-244-1961 | 113 S. Johnson Street #4 Iowa City, IA 52240 sangha@milarepaiowa.org


We understand that when you begin looking into Buddhism it can sometimes feel like there is so much to learn. Many of us remember what it was like to first walk into a Dharma center not certain where to begin.  At Garchen Mila center you can choose from a few types of meditation sessions, Practice groups, and book discussions. We are here for you whatever your level of interest. There is no pressure to become a Buddhist or to adopt any certain doctrine.

Where to Begin?

Most of our programs are geared towards beginning students. There is no set way or how to begin – it is just a matter of finding a session that appeals to you. 

Meditation: All of our meditation are open to everyone – regardless of prior experience. These are offered throughout the week.  We offer Calming Mind meditation, Om Ah Hung guided meditation and Green Tara Meditation.

Calming Mind meditation or Shinay in Tibetan – if practiced for a period of time – will have the result of relaxing and stabilizing the mind such that slowly thoughts and emotions will settle down. 

Om Ah Hung and Green Tara mediation are methods to begin to expand our capacity for compassion. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition is unique in having developed thousands of methods designed to allow the practitioner to realize their own compassion and wisdom. In this type of compassion based meditation we use chanting and visualization to exercise soften the heart. 

Discussion Groups: We offer small discussion groups weekly. These groups often read a Dharma book and discuss a chapter or so of the book each week. You don’t need to have read the book in order to participate.  The discussions are a way to begin to expand our world view to include key Buddhist concepts like the realities of impermanence, suffering and the potential for compassion.

Please feel free to look through our weekly programs and pick a session or sessions that look interesting to you. At this point none of our sessions require previous experience with meditation or Buddhism so you should feel free to attend any session.

Some people like to begin with basic Calming Mind meditation in order to stabilize the mind. This then provides a basis from which Compassion based meditations like Green Tara or Om Ah Hung can develop. However, if you are drawn to one of the Green Tara or Om Ah Hung practice then by all means just give it a try.


I am not sure how to treat the lama – I don’t want to offend him. Our resident lama, Khenpo Konchok Thupsang has been a monk for most of his life. He grew up in a traditional family in Tibet and then travelled to India for his monastic education. He has been in the West for only a couple of years. In genreal, it is not necessary to worry about offending him.  Khenpo is a title indicating a person who has undertaken a great deal of philosophical study and Khenpo Thupsang was engaged in Buddhist philosophical study for ten years. 

Are there any rules I should follow at the Dharma Center? There are a couple things that are good to keep in mind at any Buddhist center. First, please do not put Dharma texts or books directly on the floor. Second, please do not point your feet at the shrine. If you forget and put your texts on the floor etc – don’t panic.  Just remind yourself to do differently next time. 

Will I need to sit perfectly still? In the tradition of Buddhism found at Garchen Mila Buddhist Center it is not necessary to sit perfectly still in order to participate in meditation or other events.

I also practice another religion – is that ok?  We are an open and inclusive sangha, and do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation or political orientation. In addition, Buddhism does not require a declaration of faith or renunciation of beliefs.  So, from a Buddhist perspective, it is perfectly fine to engage in Buddhist practice alongside other religious practices.

I cannot sit on the floor, will I be able to sit in a chair? We sit on cushions or chairs at the center.

Are there any rules I should know about before coming to the center?  We ask individuals to abstain from alcohol or illicit drugs at any dharma-related function.

May I bring my kids to the center? Children are welcome to attend.

Are there any costs involved in attending? Garchen Mila Buddhist Center continues the 2600-year-old Buddhist tradition of providing the teachings freely to all who are interested. We have no paid staff and the center is run entirely by volunteers. We are able to offer meditation without charge to the public due to the generosity of our members. If you begin coming to the center regularly, please become a member to support our programs. If you come once in a while please consider making a small donation for that day.

How do I know if the center is open during bad weather? If weather is extreme, we may need to cancel practice. Please stay tuned to the home page of this website for such announcements.