Men in suits, ears glued to their phones, shuffle by the inconspicuous door at 410 Columbus Ave. on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Teenagers anxiously line up at the Shake Shack on a nearby corner while taxis blare their horns.

The neighborhood is humming with energy. It’s bustling, it’s hectic, it’s New York City.

At 410 Columbus Ave., the mood is different. Hidden in the basement, 18 steps below ground, seven people — six men and one woman — gather for a traditional Dharma practice and Buddhist meditation at the Kagyu Dzamling Kunchab center, which follows the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Kagyu, founded in 11th century Tibet, is known for its system of meditation, mysticism and speedy attainment of Enlightenment. Unlike other schools, celibacy or association with a monastery are not required.

The participants are casual dressed. Among them are a middle-aged man in faded jeans with a thick, black beard and a blue button-down shirt and a woman with short gray hair and a green scarf to protect from the chill outside.

They sit, barefoot, on a red rug with an illustration of a fierce dragon breathing flames. To the left of the room, the image of Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of compassion, sits above a shrine with offerings for the Buddhas and deities: white orchids with a fleck of pink, sticks of incense in bowls of rice, three Oreos placed on a metal plate, seven bowls of water and two candles flickering below the colorful image in a gold-rimmed frame.

The leader of the service is Lama Karma Dechen Wangmo, 38, who is dressed in a red and orange Tibetan robe. She was trained at the Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery in upstate New York under the guidance of Lama Norlha Rinpoche and has been a Lama for almost 10 years.

Before beginning, Wangmo explains the seven-point posture of meditation: straight back, right hand inside the left with the thumbs lightly touching, chin slightly tucked, tongue on the back of the mouth and eyes looking down four finger widths in front of the nose.

“A lot of people, including myself, find that feels too cross-eyed and makes me feel nauseous,” she adds with a laugh. “So just a little way in front of yourself and down. And the eyes are open in a relaxed way.”

She explains the purpose of meditation: to bring the mind to the present. The past is finished and the future hasn’t yet come. Wisdom comes from being aware of the now, without distraction. It’s a major contrast from the chaos just beyond the center’s door.

She rings a golden gong and the meditation practice begins.

The room is quiet. All eyes are on Wangmo, as the devotees slowly absorb her teachings. She discusses the four classes of objects of meditation taught by the Buddha, negative patterns that can arise from emotion and the power of habituation from past lives.

“In Buddhist teaching, our present life originates from a previous life,” she says. “During our present life, we can experience physical pain and mental suffering or we can experience happiness and bliss. So most of us have alternating experiences, both of those. Those experiences are from our actions in the previous life.”

She continues with an example: “Say in our former life we got angry a lot, that was kind of our habitual reaction to situations. Then in this life we already have that habit very engrained.”

Buddhist teaching, she adds, provides a solution. “Through the dharma, we may learn methods that cut through the hold of anger on us or the hold of desire that causes us to act in a mindless way,” she adds.  Likewise, it’s possible to remedy negative emotions caused by great attachments, anger, ignorance, jealousy and pride.

She asks the devotees to take a few minutes to experience this letting go. “This space extending out is full of sentient beings that are suffering and just want to be happy. And for a few moments, let’s just feel that. What does that feel like?”

Wangmo rings the gong as its piercing shriek echoes across the room, followed by complete silence. Within the quiet, everything is louder: the people walking above ground, the air conditioner hissing in the background, a man’s heavy breath as he meditates. The group meditates to earn positive karma, attain enlightenment and try to rid the world of confusion. In this windowless room under fluorescent lights, surrounded by tankas — images of the Buddha, nothing else matters beyond the breath.