Dropping Mechanics for Dynamics and Healing on the Way

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Many of us know Tai Chi (supreme ultimate) is a healing form of exercise often done by seniors. Others might know it as a precursor to the more extreme martial arts. It can be practiced in both these ways. But with Tai Chi and Qi Gong (life energy cultivation) we can also practice in the spirit — not being asleep on our feet. Tai Chi works through the body along with the breath, the aspiration that connects us to ourselves, others, and all nature. So many of us neglect our bodies and in turn this effects our mind and spirit.

With Tai Chi we can turn off the mechanics and get into dynamic moments connecting to the rhythm and flow of life. When we begin to awaken qi, with practice, it allows our natural life force to become unblocked and clear, thus promoting physical and mental well-being.

Tai Chi can also be a Way (Dao) to higher levels of consciousness and awareness — of being in the present moment. It can bring playfulness and childlike perception back into our hearts. In this more open state of the mind and body, we can become more receptive to personal growth and change without being on the defensive.

“Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear.”
— Lao Tzu

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Dipping Our Toes Into the Lawn of Mindfulness

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Whether through movement or stillness, we can practice mindfulness and meditation. Our four standard postures of meditation are sitting, standing, walking, and lying down (we love that one!), but all the postures in between are potential experiences of present-moment awareness. Whatever position or transition we’re in — kneeling, slouching, crouching, jumping, skipping, dancing — we can be in that moment. And at this moment we’re practicing on the lawn in the green grass at Military Park. See you there! Shoes allowed, but it’s also a joy to mindfully tickle our toes in the grass!

Wednesday, August 23 and 30
Basic Meditation with Cornelia
7:00pm to 8:00pm
Military Park, Meditation Area
Free
There’s still two chances to join in on this beginner’s series taught by meditation teacher and neuro-psychologist Cornelia Santschi and assisted by peer-leader Kamilah Crawley. You will learn the basics of mindfulness and meditation in urban nature. You’re welcome to bring your children.

Regularly on Wednesdays
Weekly Meditation Group
7:00pm to 8:30pm
Military Park and City Without Walls
Donation-based
We’ll be sitting in Military Park with the Basic Meditation class tonight and August 30th (till 8pm). Then we will move back to our regular venue at City Without Walls on September 6th. Short sessions of meditation, movement, discussion, and reading. Join us for some mid-week peace-of-mind.

Wednesdays, September 6 – October 11
Tai-Chi with Shaka
5:30pm to 6:30pm
Military Park, Meditation Area
Free
Join recurring NCMC teacher Shaka Georges for a series of tai-chi and qi-gong classes in the park (weather permitting). There’s no registration and each class is stand-alone so join in any time. Get into the flow — gentle, interesting, and artful movement for wellness, healing, and energy.


Why Meditate Together?

Though meditation is essentially an individual practice, the effect of doing it with a like-minded group of friends can make the meditation more profound personally and socially. Too, in discussing meditation practice with new meditators, we have found that many people attempting meditation at home alone without any guidance or limited online guidance, often conform their meditation to their own predispositions and ambitions.

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People often tell us they try to meditate at home but get too distracted by thoughts — desires, worries and regrets. We say, working with distraction is the practice! Some say that they tend to fall asleep, feeling dull or drowsy. We say, no excuse, there’s wake up solutions for this. Others doubt their ability or the practice itself. This often is due to isolation — being in a supportive community and learning useful techniques can help with this too. Others might fear the anger they see rising up. We say, observe it, let it come, and let it go! And even learn to reposit that unhealthy anger to healthy moral indignation and action.

There are methods to skillfully work with all these seeming roadblocks to more inner peace and happiness. Like any other discipline it takes a regular practice, patience, commitment, and guidance by good teachers, instructors, and peers who can help keep us on track and inspire us.

Any group participation, however, will only be effective if the people who join it feel that they gain something either more or different than they experience at home. We have often heard from members of our group that sitting with us has advanced their individual practice, helping them in their home life and at work. Some of our meditation friends who are not often able to join us, report that they feel good just knowing that we gather together weekly. This all keeps us inspired.  *


Breathing In and Breathing Out in Brick City

It’s a simple task to breath in and out but to be mindful and present with it takes practice. And this practice can help make positive, effective, and even transformative changes to our lives. Breath is just one form of meditation that can make an impact — there are many objects of meditation — but the breath is a good place to start as it’s available at any given moment wherever you are in Brick City.

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A butterfly stops to mindfully breath on one of our meditation cushions at the start of one of NCMC’s summer meditation classes held in Military Park through August, each Wednesday evening at 7pm weather providing.


To help to understand just what mindfulness of breathing can do, here’s a clear description about mindfulness of breathing to contemplate. It’s from a book of essays titled The Issue at Hand by meditation teacher Gil Fronsdal:

Mindfulness of breathing can be a powerful ally in our lives. With steady awareness of our inhalations and exhalations, the breath can become an equanimous constant through the ups and downs of our daily life. By resting with and perhaps even enjoying the cycles of breathing, we are less likely to be caught up in the emotional and mental events that pass through us. Repeatedly returning to the breath can be a highly effective training in letting go of patterns of identification and holding that freeze the mind and heart.”

NCMC teacher Kazi, of The Spirit-Centered Life, notes that an important component of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness is breathing, and he advises people to pay attention to it. “Your breathing will often let you know what’s going on with your emotions.” he has stated. *


Mindfulness and Staying Woke

To meditate we need to practice mindfulness. And mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake — to stay woke — to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in each moment of our daily life. To be mindful is to be really alive, present and at one with yourself, those around you, and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we do the mundane such as wash the dishes, drive the car, or take a shower. More difficult is to stay in harmony when communicating and having dialog with other individuals or other communities.

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How can we merge meditative mindfulness with the meaning of staying woke in the African American community? By practicing deeper mindfulness we can stay woke and aware of the continuing concerns of social and racial justice, using mindfulness as a radical means to vigilance and heightened sensitivity in order to act honestly and appropriately.

The term “awake” in the meditation community has been used since ancient times and is usually reserved to mean a level of enlightenment that constitutes being truly awake, for example in Buddhist terms the Pali word “bodhi”. This takes continual practice in mind development but we can certainly develop and experience varying levels of being woke.

Mindfulness takes effort, but it is worth it. The more mindful we are, the more we can truly stay woke and alive — and the more positive changes we can make in ourselves and in others through our deepening understanding of our interconnections and their ramifications. *


NCMC Evening Farm Retreat: Insight Meditation with Light Yoga, Art as Meditation, and Agnihotra Sunset Air Purification to be held on July 22nd

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Register now on Eventbrite for NCMC’s unique outdoor farm retreat with program partner, Rabbit Hole Farm! There is limited participation of 20 for this so please do REGISTER only if you know you will attend. We don’t want to turn down anyone because of someone who doesn’t show. Thank you kindly.

Date: Saturday, July 22nd (Rain date: July 29th)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00pm
Venue: Rabbit Hole Farm, 34 Rose Terrace, Newark, NJ

To ease the students into the environment, there will first be a thoughtful Garden Tour of this urban farm that is abundant with vegetables, herbs, and art. This will be followed by a light Yoga session with Pamela Flagg to get the students’ energy flowing and harmonized. There’s no need to don yoga clothes or be experienced for this — you can simply wear loose pants if you prefer. A Vegan Medicine Meal will then be offered by Rabbit Hole founder/farmer Arelís Hernandez using food straight from the garden. A medicine meal is a light balanced supper meant to be eaten simply for sustenance and with care and appreciation. It is important to eat lightly at a meditation retreat.

A plein air Art as Meditation session with artist Malik Whitaker will continue the process of opening our minds, heightening our sensitivity, and developing calm. This will get the students prepared for the Insight Meditation period led by meditation teacher Cornelia Santschi. You need not have meditation experience as it will be appropriate for beginners to advanced. Insight Meditation is based on the ancient meditation practice of Vipassana, yet it is a practical and vital contemporary method of mindfulness of breath/body, feelings, thoughts, and phenomena that with development can bring more mental clarity, stability, and happiness. An urban outdoor farm will make for an interesting setting to explore our minds.

Then, Dr. Sankar Sastri of Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary will explain and perform a Sunset Air Purification called Agnihotra in Sanskrit. Agnihotra is a healing fire from the ancient science of Ayurveda that is done in combination with vibrational sounds and materials of specific qualities that is performed at sunrise or sunset. It is a process that is said to not only benefit the mind and body and a home, but to purify the outside atmosphere as well. The process is also used to nourish plant life by changing the cellular structure, thus enabling more nutrients to flow through fruits and vegetables. This is a very cool opportunity to learn a new-old technique!

To close the program, yogi Keven Porter, who is also the director of the Farm, will lead a Moon Salutation Yoga session and Metta Meditation (lovingkindness).

Register on Eventbrite at https://ncmc_eve_farm_retreat.eventbrite.com

Donation-based, suggested $10 cash-at-door or by credit card on Eventbrite.

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Basic Meditation Summer Series

Outdoor Classes in Military Park with Cornelia

Wednesdays, June 14th – August 16th, 7:00-8:00pm

Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC) will hold this summer series of basic meditation and mindfulness classes as a partner in the Military Park summer programs. The series will be taught by meditation teacher and neuro-psychologist Cornelia Santschi and assisted by peer-leader Kamilah Crawley. Each class will stand alone, therefore you are welcome to just stop by for a class or two. But, to get the most benefit it’s best to attend all if not as many classes as you can! This is a FREE NCMC/Military Park program. IMPORTANT NOTE: We will NOT meet on Wednesday, July 5th. If it rains or weather is inclement, classes will be cancelled. You can check in for updates at the NCMC Facebook Page or subscribe to the NCMC Newsletter.

Schedule

Wed. June 14 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. June 21 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. June 28 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. July 5 (NO CLASS)
Wed. July 12 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. July 19 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. July 26 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. August 2 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. August 9 7:00-8:00pm
Wed. August 16 7:00-8:00pm

Location

The classes will be held in the Meditation Area in the northeast corner of Military Park just across the street from the Performing Arts Center and the Hotel.

About the Teacher

Cornelia Santschi has recently graduated from the Community Dharma Leader Program through Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society to become a meditation teacher. Cornelia is co-founder of NCMC where she also serves as a meditation teacher and liaison to the insight meditation community for NCMC. She has been a vipassana (insight) meditator and dedicated student of Buddhist psychology for over 15 years. She is the director of Neuro-psychology at the Institute for Neurology in NJ, and founder/director of Anatta World Health & Education Outreach, a grassroots non-profit that creates and supports medical and educational programs in developing countries.

For more information, contact NCMC at info@newarkmeditation.org.