People of Color & Allies Retreat: Our Return to Ancestral Meditation Medicine

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!


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 imporPoster_POC Ancestral Retreat_2017.pngtant 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.

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

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

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First Newark MEDITATION SAMPLER on May 21st

A day of 20-minute sample sessions with twelve instructors stitching together:


Sunday May 21, 10am to 4pm
City Without Walls, 6 Crawford Street, Newark, NJ

Stop by any time during the day or REGISTER to Choose Full-Day, Morning Session, or Afternoon Session Participation. Vegetarian Lunch Included.


NCMC is excited to present our Meditation Sampler Retreat — integrating the disciplines through stitching together cycles of motion, stillness, and sound meditations! We have wonderful Newark area teachers and instructors of various disciplines sharing their practices. Here’s a chance for beginners to get different tastes of meditation and advanced to commune with us!

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We’ve got twelve presenters giving 15-20 minute sample sessions (in alphabetical order): Leslie Bangor/I’m So Yoga Newark, Marcie Barth*, Kamilah Crawley*, Shaka Georges/ Discovering the Healer Within, Jennifer Kohl/Lotus Yoga, Andrea Lee/Yoga Life Society, Muta Morton, Ihsaan Muhammad*, Amy Orrell/Newark Yoga Movement, Keven Porter*, Cornelia Santschi*, and artist Malik Whitaker. *NCMC teachers and presenters. (Bio-Notes below.)

Naturally we think it’s more beneficial to join us for the entire retreat, but we’re offering the options to attend just for the Morning Session or Afternoon Session. A vegetarian lunch is included in between.

SCHEDULE (detailed chart below):
Morning Session: 10:00am-12:20pm
Lunch: 12:20pm-1:15pm
Afternoon Session: 1:15pm-4:00pm


Donation-based program. CASH DONATIONS AT DOOR OR BY PAYPAL IF YOU REGISTER. Suggested donation $10-15.

NCMC programs are donation-based. We often give suggested fees but please donate whatever is in your budget. It helps us to gift the teachers who are giving valuable services and to cover venue rentals. Donations are the only way we can continue our programming. Please consider paying it forward!

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Leslie Bangor Leslie’s journey began in 2014 after taking yoga classes in Newark she fell in love with yoga. Leslie began seeking information in the yoga industry and came across a yoga workshop at Earth Yoga NYC. Leslie then took the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course there in 2015. By taking part in this training she learned there are various styles of yoga, multiple levels and a diversity in perspectives to teach from. Leslie teaches at a Vinyasa Hatha Beginners level class and is eager to learn more in her yoga journey. She enjoys being of service to others and teaching yoga is a great way for her to do so. Yoga has impacted Leslie in various ways — her memory has improved, she is more flexible, and is now stronger physically and mentally. Leslie runs I’m So Yoga Newark where she is the owner, operator and main Yoga Instructor. Her goal is to give people the opportunity to practice yoga regardless of their weight, race, or sex.

Marcie L. Barth began her inquiry into both sitting and moving meditation in 1998 with a focus on tai chi. In 2001 she committed her practice to sitting meditation (tranquility and insight) and the ongoing study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. She served on the board of Flowering Lotus Meditation and Retreat Center in Mississippi. She is a founding board member of Buddhist Global Relief, a hunger relief organization established in 2008. Marcie is a co-founder of NCMC where she also develops programs and is a meditation instructor.

Kamilah Crawley is a Certified Health Education Specialist with broad experience in developing sex and health education workshops. Currently, Kamilah works for the Children’s Hospital of NJ at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center as a Program Coordinator. She provides pregnancy prevention counseling and develops health and wellness programs for their Youth Services Program at Barringer H.S. She received her B.S. from Temple University and her Master from Rutgers University, both in Public Health. Kamilah, a founding member of NCMC, is a meditation group peer-leader there and also makes community meditation and mindfulness presentations.

Shaka Georges began his martial arts practice at the age of 9 years old. He immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 1975, and ever since then has studied various forms of martial arts including Wing Chun, White Crane Kung Fu Capoeira, and Tai Chi Long and Short Forms. He is a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner from the Mahamudra Lineage and has been meditating for over 10 years. He has also been a fitness coach and instructor in Newark. Shaka is a certified tai chi and qi gong teacher practicing in Montclair NJ and is a mathematics high high school teacher in West Orange. You can find him online at Discovering The Healer Within.

Jennifer Kohl is a Newark-based yoga teacher at her studio, Lotus Yoga. She is the executive director of All Stars Project of New Jersey.

Andrea Lee is a founding member of Newark Center for Meditative Culture where she is a meditation and mindfulness presenter and instructs retreat yoga and chanting sessions. Living in Montclair, she is currently an Assistant Teacher at Montclair Cooperative School. She is a yoga instructor and performs in a chanting group. She is a student at Yoga Life Society.

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.

Ihsaan R. Muhammad graduated from Rutgers Law School and has been until recently a practicing lawyer. Still retaining his law certification, he is now a branding and marketing communications consultant at his own company IHSAAN Marketing. Born and raised in Newark, he leads drum circles there and in the surrounding area. He is also active in a local yogic community. Ihsaan is a drum circle leader and mindfulness presenter with NCMC.

Amy Orrell has been involved in the wellness field for 20 years. Her path has led her to become a massage therapist, personal trainer, and most recently a yoga instructor in 2008. She has had the opportunity to work with a multitude of individuals from infants to the young at heart. Her focus is about helping each individual live their best life possible. Ultimately that is what led her to become a part of Newark Yoga Movement. She has functioned in a larger capacity with the organization in trying to cultivate community partnership to be able to provide important life skills to not just survive in life but to thrive and empower others toward live a peaceful life even in the midst of the storm.

Keven Porter has been a yoga instructor for several years after having studied at the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India. He is also a children’s meditation course teacher in the vipassana tradition of S.N. Goenka. He has completed a study program on ayurvedic nutrition and yoga therapy at the School of Ayurveda and Panchkarma in Kerala, India. He is Director of Rabbit Hole Urban Farm in Newark. Keven also served as a board member of Eyes Like Mine in Newark where he instructed a Yoga for Your Eyes class. He is a licensed massage therapist. Keven and his wife are both committed yogis serving this community. Keven is a community liaison and sits for NCMC. 

Cornelia Santschi is currently studying in the Community Dharma Leader Program (CDL5) through Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society to become a meditation teacher. She serves as a meditation instructor 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. Cornelia is a meditation teacher and insight community liaison for NCMC.

Malik Hardaway-Whitaker was born and raised in Newark, NJ. He studied advanced art while attending high school at St. Benedicts Prep and later at Rutgers University and the Art Institute of America, along with several artist programs and residencies. From his studies, he has translated his style and technique into a complete disciplinary form. He is also an accomplished muralist whose work can be seen on several buildings, churches and colleges throughout Essex County. Malik is most famous for his “Brick City Project”, a collection of bricks with painted scenes of Newark, which he’s displayed in many galleries and exhibitions around Newark, Jersey City and NYC. The trials and tribulations of living in the inner city has helped to shape Malik’s passion and appreciation for life. He seeks to pass on and inspire positive messages to his community and all who view his works. He currently is the owner of M-Print Art studios in Newark, where he continues to display his art. He is currently mentoring and teaching art to students with physical and mental disabilites and also facilitating workshops in the Newark public school system and charter schools. See The Art of Malik Whitaker.