Families and individuals, some who sat on mats and others seated in chairs, chanted prayers for the New Year throughout Sunday at the Quad-Cities' only Buddhist meditation center.

The Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center, 502 W. 3rd St., Davenport, was open Sunday for chanted prayers, or “pujas,” asking for blessings, protection and guidance in 2016.

Joe Gauthier of Davenport, resident teacher, and Rachel Griffiths of Milan, educational program coordinator, greeted more than 25 people throughout the morning, afternoon and evening for the prayer retreat.

He said Quad-Citians are kind people who are connected to their community. There’s a level of enthusiasm for meditation and Buddhism that drew the center, which previously was in Iowa City, to the Quad-Cities, Gauthier said.

Buddhism is new to the Quad-City area. “People don’t have much of an idea of what Buddhism is all about,” he said, but meditation is universal regardless of a person’s spiritual beliefs.

During stressful times, negative thought patterns, he said, are the real problem, not the person or situation you face.

On Sunday, the chanted prayers were made to the goddess Tara, the embodiment of enlightened compassion. Those in prayer were trying to make a connection with pure compassion, he said.

“Through prayer, you make the connection,” Gauthier said. “You set yourself as a receiver” of powerful, positive energy into your mind.

Chanted prayers were said for spiritual growth and protection for health and family throughout the coming year. “It gets your mind in the right frame to start the year and get that spiritual protection throughout the year,” Gauthier said.

Those who visited and prayed Sunday are among thousands of people who have passed through the center in its five years, Griffiths said. The facility includes a bookstore, a sitting room with tea and coffee, a children’s meditation room and a larger meditation room.

“Every person is one step away from making it better,” Griffiths said.

Many visitors to the center do not necessarily have a walk of faith, but “People brush up against something spiritual” when they visit, she said.

“The Quad-Cities is such a beautiful space,"

 Griffiths said. "People have good hearts.”

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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Broadcast Film Critics Association member. College instructor for criminal justice, English and math. Serves on Safer Foundation and The Salvation Army advisory boards. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church