Meditation IS Medicine
On Sunday, November 12th, Teacher Kazi opened the People of Color Retreat with a presentation on the meaning and background of Ancestral Meditation Medicine and what it means for us culturally and connectively today. Throughout the day he gently and masterfully guided us in meditation medicine through modes of sitting, standing, walking, and qigong.
That Darn Dukkha!
Andrea Lee and J. Javier Cruz both gave Dharma (truth) talks that clearly explained the meaning of the Sanskrit/Pali word dukkha, an ancient spiritual word that is hard to define. It can mean both mental and physical suffering, stress, and agitation — subtle and extreme — that we cause ourselves and others. They then used their personal disciplines to help us find the ability to let go and open our hearts and minds (note that a single Chinese character means both heart and mind). Javier taught the method of metta (loving-kindness) meditation, while Andrea used yoga discipline to allow us to radiate love out.
Art Forms as Meditation
We all seem to have joy and/or self-discovery in this session whenever we do it — expressing ourselves through drawing or written word — then explaining to our soul group (sangha for the day) how the art manifested and reflecting on its meaning.
Prosody and Performance
Presenters Mesha Allen and Muta Morton both expressed beautifully. Mesha read a powerful original essay in a voice like a hug and Muta instructed in a unique blend of modulating verbal performance and khemetic yoga postures. He chose those that he finds especially healing and we did too!
To end the program, Kazi led us in his own variation of a chant that he heard in the film Baraka. It was first a slow “Cha. Cha. Cha. Cha.,” then a very quick-paced “chachachachachachachachacha,” going back and forth between the slow and fast. In a sense, he was using the chant as a healing form somewhat like hormesis activity. Kazi also suggested that we also try his Vowel Chant using the ancient aspiration sounds of the vowels a-e-i-o-u. It can be found on the free www.insighttimer.com App under “Meditation Medicine Chant 1”.
Divine Dishing and Doling
We had a delicious vegan meal provided by Arelis Hernandez and Keven Porter of Rabbit Hole Farm. Mary Arthars assisted with lovely side dishes and logistical support. Thank you to Jennifer Becher and Bruno Mendoza for volunteering with registration and venue set-up. We were also pleased to have a 10-year-old who came with his mother who minded him thoughtfully through the day. He joined in on most everything and seemed to learn quickly. We’re grateful to Index Art Center for the venue and director Lowell Craig for his patience and time.
We have a choice to neglect or nurture our minds. To nurture our minds takes a little discipline — the practice of meditation and mindfulness can help to etch good qualities and impartiality into our minds through positive reinforcement and developing intimacy with ourselves. We begin to see the connections between our brain, mind, heart, body, and spirit.
The hard fact is, that to neglect our minds means that we might also be neglecting or even harming others. How often do we see the domino effect that our negative habits and actions can have on those close to us and our community, let alone those of other cultures? This certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t also play with abandonment, but we also then can use our mind skills to get back on track!
Once we’ve established a nurturing mind for ourselves, we might even then extend our efforts to nurture the minds and help heal others. This is where compassion begins and becomes action. Putting ourselves in others shoes we can acknowledge and identify with their pain, unhappiness, and injustices and take good radical action.
Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC) is currently offering three gems of opportunities to plant seeds of positive power and nurture our minds.
Teacher: Ib’nallah S. Kazi Instructors: J. Javier Cruz & Andrea Lee Presenters: Mesha Allen & Muta Morton
Sunday, November 12 | 10:00am to 5:00pm EST (Optional Part-day participation) Index Art Center, 237 Washington St. | 2nd Floor, Stairs Only Donation-based fee: $20 suggested/$15 student | Vegan Lunch Included Limited seating 30 students. Register Now with Eventbrite!
TO BE FOREWARNED IS TO BE FOREARMED.
This full day (optional part day) retreat will include sessions in meditation, medicine movement, yoga, spoken word, and other disciplines. We will explore the spiritual, ethical, and practical applications of the self-knowing, self-healing, and self-transformative arts of the indigenous, enslaved, colonized and immigrant Americans. The resurgence of interest in the meditative arts in the People of Color communities in the 21st century is missing an important link. And that link connects us to the genetic continuity revealing the secrets to our “surthrival” in the face of the already mounting challenges to our safety, inheritance, and very humanity. Through immersion with People of Color at this retreat, White Allies can deepen their understanding and support. A white ally is a person of white-skin or who is white-person-identified of unearned privilege who engages in anti-racism work while practicing principles of cultural humility. Our ancestors have left us a diverse tool chest of systems, practices, and wisdom insights to meet the challenge of “this time”. Let’s reconnect the link.
This program is appropriate for non-meditators, beginners, through advanced meditators of any discipline. You must register to attend. You are welcome to attend part-day for the morning or afternoon session, but maximum benefit is gained by attending the entire retreat. Register Now with Eventbrite!
Ib’nallah S. Kazi (Kazi) is a Las Vegas-based spiritual wellness coach, medicine movement, and meditation teacher. He places an emphasis on wellness and personal development through his own program, presently known as The Spirit-Centered Life. Kazi has had a committed meditation practice for over 30 years and applies many disciplines. This includes Taoist, Sufi and Ancestral Meditation Medicine. Kazi has built a diverse education and training. His adolescent rites of passage began in 1974 when he became a Five Percenter, a splinter group from the Nation of Islam. Kazi has trained in and developed his internal martial medicine skills, teaching both Tai Chi Chuan and Yara Mba. He was the co-founder of the Harriet Tubman Hiking Society established in 1988 to immerse the African-American community back into nature. He integrated fitness training and massage becoming certified as a Health-Fitness Trainer and as a Massage Therapist that included Royal Thai Medical Massage. He also became a certified Intrinisic Coach. Kazi was until 2017 based in Newark NJ for 13 years where he remains on the Board of Directors of Newark Center for Meditative Culture, serving as a Spiritual Advisor and Lead Teacher. See Kazi’s full bio.
J. Javier Cruz was born and raised in Florida, Puerto Rico, but has lived in the Greater Newark NJ area for decades, hence he is bilingual, speaking his native Spanish and English. He currently resides in Harrison, NJ and works as a stationary engineer at a plant in Newark. Though Javier has had a committed meditation practice for over 10 years, he was introduced to meditation 17 years ago while in the NA 12-Step Recovery Program. He is a Buddhist practitioner with residential retreat experience and has studied with Insight Teacher Dennis Maurer who teaches at IMCNJ then under the guidance of Narayan. Javier’s main practice is loving-kindness (metta), using it in his daily life along with developing it methodically as a meditation discipline. Having seen and experienced much suffering and troubles in his family, meditation, especially metta, has been key to his well-being and stability. In his spare time he volunteers for a hospice. His priority is his family and he spends much time and attention on his children, grandchildren, and girlfriend.
Saraswati Andrea Lee is a senior disciple of Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Spiritual Head and Founder of Yoga Life Society. Under his direction she is completing seminary training to become a Yoga Life Minister in 2018. She is a certified Yoga instructor and performs Kirtan with Mirabai Catherine Moon. She is a Preschool Assistant Teacher at Montclair Cooperative School in her hometown of Montclair, NJ. Andrea serves as the Treasurer of NCMC where she presents on meditation and mindfulness and instructs yoga and chanting sessions for retreats.
Mesha Allen is a graduate of Ramapo College. She is passionate about improving the well-being of her community and aspires to open her own wellness center before she’s 30. She is the founder of Newark Integrative Enrichment Society and co-founder and trustee of New African Liberty Organization. She lives in Newark and advocates for people suffering with chronic pain and Fibromyalgia.
Muta Morton is an aspiring yogi, artist and gardener who believes everyone has a right to live a happy meaningful life. He grew up moving from foster home to foster home, struggling with depression, homelessness and being emotionally and financially deprived since age ten. Now at 26, Muta searches to find the big picture, using ancient wisdom and truths to guide him through what was meant to be a free planet for people to live together as one, but instead has become a power, money and blood hungry planet. He believes we can change and make the world a better place. He believes that the design of most on the planet right now is to use and abuse people, propagating a planet of hate that would ultimately self destruct. Muta feels that by going deep inside ourselves together we can actually sustain this planet and make it a better place for generations to come.