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Could someone explain these practices to me please?

I went to a Buddhist meditation center for the first time, I'll admit to knowing nothing about Buddhism - I didn't expect this to be an issue for a meditation class open to anyone, also note I've ADHD so it's not easy for me to study-up.

A few things that happened that I'm a bit confused by, I'm hoping someone here can help...

  1. Sitting talking before class, a person walks through the room who I assume was the resident monk, everyone else goes quiet, stands up, bowed their heads, makes a prayer-type gesture with their hands. What was this? They didn't explain this to me or tell me to copy them, I just sat there quietly...I didn't know any better so figured I couldn't go wrong just sitting quietly. They didn't do this when the same person walked through the room at the end.
    So what was this, and am I expected to do this next time?
    I stayed back to try to ask the teacher about this but I didn't know how to put the question, I think he assumed I'd been overwhelmed by the meditation so thought this was what my question was about. I feel really anxious about this, ideally I'd like them to tell me if it's expected of me, but I don't want to do it without knowing why I'm doing it.

  2. Bowing, the teacher bowed three times prior to starting the session - why is this? The other people taking the class didn't seem to do anything special when h did this, they were still standing, did I do the right thing continuing to sit?

  3. At one point during meditation everyone (except me) said some sort of prayer, something that sounded like Prayer of the Stages of the Path - am I expected to say this? Which also brings me to the next point...

  4. I'm not Buddhist, I'm Pagan (Scientific Pantheist, so no deity as such and nature-focused, thus I guess it would not contradict Buddhism), is it rude for me to be going to a Buddhist Meditation center if not Buddhist? I'd assumed not, but where do I get the right balance between potentially studying and benefiting from some Buddhist practices while not either A. crossing a line I'm not comfortably with due to my differing religion, and B. not offending Buddhists?
    eg. if it's polite to greet a Buddhist holy man as in question #1 that's fine, that' basic respect for their practices, but the prayers bother me so would it be acceptable for me to participate in meditation without saying this prayer?

submitted by /u/JayKayVay
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This post first appeared on Bodhisatva India, please read the originial post: here

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Could someone explain these practices to me please?

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