To all things there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
— Ecclesiastes 3
Hippocrates, in teaching the doctors of his day, said, “Consider the seasons of the year and what each of them produces.” When you respect the seasons you will respect your body, mind, and spirit and their needs.
Based on chinese medicine the fall is the season of the element of metal and lung and the lungs are associated with sadness and grief. We move from the external, expansive nature of summer to the internal, contracting nature of fall.
What does this have to do with meditation?
Through specific meditation and mindfulness skills — stationary, movement, eating, sound, and all our sense organs — we can learn season-specific techniques and tools for self-care: stress resilience, immunity boosting, health promotion, and methods to boost your creativity and mental sharpness.
We can also develop insight into the constantly changing, impermanent nature of our bodies and minds and learn to let go. In fact the energy of the lungs is related to “letting go” — first remembering our breath, using our breath, relaxing our breath — then becoming aware and allowing the elements and nourishment to inform us.
The northeast Autumn with it’s cool temperatures and warmly-colored leaves is a good time to:
• eat hot foods
• eat gourd foods
• supplement with mullein
• get to bed early
• sweat in a sauna
• socialize locally.
Over the past six years, NCMC has presented close to 300 life changing, health promoting, and self-empowering programs within the context of the socially engaged, multi-cultural, and diverse population of the Greater Newark Area.
16 Seasonal Full-Day Meditation Retreats (including 3 People of Color Retreats)
10 First Sunday Art and Meditation Workshops
Over 200 Meditation Workshops (of which over 30 bi-lingual workshops offered)
2 Ten-Week Basic Meditation Courses
26 Dharma Movie/Meditation Sessions
2 Online Meditation Medicine Courses
16 Tai Chi/Qi Gong Classes
2 Open Mind Film Festivals
12 Nature Walks and Hikes
1 Deep Ecology Training Workshop
Publishing of 2 Books: Buddhist Dharma Book and Meditation Manual.
Having established ourselves as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2017 and having previously engaged since 2012 as a community initiative, we now need to meet some formative and developmental needs in order to advance our Mission, which is:
To be a safe place where like-minded people can gather in order to practice the fundamental meditation methods of tranquility, insight, healing, and loving-kindness (metta), and to become engaged together in conscientious, compassionate, and contemplative activities as a group and in the local community.
How do we work?
NCMC is a volunteer-run organization with a strong commitment to openness and inclusion. We do this in two ways:
Diversity/Expansiveness: We offer both general programs and pin-pointed programs for specific affinity groups of people and surrounding issues. For example, our People of Color retreats especially are intended to provide an affinity group for individuals who daily confront the effects of oppression and racism, and who therefore may initially choose to avoid mixed programs.
Inclusiveness: All of our programs are offered as donation-based no-fee or free to the participant. We base this system on the practice of dana or generosity, which is inherent to many spiritual traditions. Your donations will allow us to continue to provide life enhancing programs to the entire community regardless of their present economic circumstances.
NCMC is committed to community engagement and compassionate activism and to educating the community about meditation and its benefits. We have collaborated with or facilitated meditation classes and programs for several organizations including:
Artisan Collective – Barat Foundation – Bateman & Associates – Greater Newark Tennis & Education – Hikeolution – I’m So Yoga Newark – Ironbound Community Corporation – Newark LGBTQ Center – Newark Museum – Newark Yoga Movement – NJPAC – Rabbit Hole Farm – Sis & Bro Foundation.
In the educational sector, we have provided our services to:
Rutgers Law School – Rutgers Bookstore – Louise A. Spencer Community School – Technology High School.
We have also engaged in area compassionate activism through participation in walks, marches, and activities such as:
Million March NYC – Buddhist Global Relief NYC Walk to Feed the Hungry – 300.org People’s Climate March – Clean Energy Walk Phila. (w/NJ group) – Buddhist Council Meditate NYC & Peace Lantern Festival.
NCMC has also worked closely with generous venue providers over the years including:
Index Art Center – City Without Walls Gallery – Seed Gallery – Military Park Partnership – Ironbound Community Corporation (current).
What are our immediate needs?
Our current fundraising goal of $5,000 is a portion of our 2019 budget of $12,000. The focus of this initial campaign is to raise the finances needed to begin the new year with a strong organizational infrastructure. Our “must haves” include:
– Bookkeeper $16-20 per hour at 1 hr a week approx for yr.
– Accountant for tax return and quarterly filings for yr.
– QuickBooks Pro
• Office Supplies
– Post Office Box (yearly)
– Domain Name Renewal (yearly)
• Student and Teacher Advancement
– MBSR fundamentals teacher training online: 1 student
APPROX $5,000What do we hope to do in the near future?
• establish more weekly and monthly group meditations and study groups
• reestablish our monthly First Sunday meditation and creative journaling
• establish a weekly Sunday meditation group
• develop a training program for student leaders for groups
• provide opportunities for our students to deepen their practice at longer residential retreats
• provide opportunities for our students to advance to teachers
• secure funding to be able to afford rent for a steady place to hold group sessions
• secure funding for a director or part-time directors
• secure funding to support free programming (as our teachers need to be gifted and expenses covered)
• establish a community of practice that includes volunteers practicing generosity who love meditation or being around meditators and understanding our purpose.
So you can see, we need your help in funding!
Can we take a little more of your valuable time to relate some student stories to help you understand the need for NCMC?
(Please note that these stories are paraphrased from memory.)
One young lone meditator came to us once and scuffled shyly into the art center where we were holding our meditation session. He said “I can’t believe I’m in here, I never thought I’d be in a place like this.” He also said he had imagined how nice it would be to meditate outdoors in a park — and his dream came true! We sit in the park in the summer!
= Exposure, safe place, non-judgement.
At one of our recent People of Color Retreats, one student described how wonderful it was to “meditate with people who look like me” as she was used to having to go to meditation centers that were mainly populated by white folk.
Another woman pops in and sits with us only when she is sometimes available on Wednesday evenings. Her comment though, “I love knowing that you are here doing this every week even though I most often can’t make it.”
= The more group sessions we can hold, the more opportunities for people to show up.
Three seasoned public school staff members in Newark have come regularly and felt the positive results of continual practice. They’ve asked us mature questions about how to relieve their stress as they watch their students in difficulty and are immersed themselves in co-worker conflicts. One found results in walking meditation, another in sitting meditation, and another more in the continual probing that her new mindfulness brings.
= De-stressing techniques to help through work-related stress.
A young sensitive woman studying online to be a reiki master, having gone back and forth and back and forth through her childhood between here and Uruguay, lacks confidence in both her languages. She stated from the heart, “My passion is to become a meditation teacher.”
= Helping to build confidence and support potential meditation and mindfulness teachers.
We hope that these stories give you an idea of some of the reasons we think the development of a meditative culture in the Greater Newark Area is as vital and important a cause as we do. Do take the time to look at our website to get to know us even better at www.newarkmeditation.org.
Can you please share our story with your network of like-minded mind-loving friends who might support this cause?
Thank you again for your time. We hope you will consider donating now to help our work to get to the next level and blossom.
Thursdays, September 13 – November 15 | 5:30-7:00pm | ICC Family Success Center, The Wellness Room, 317 Elm Street, Newark, NJ
Above: On September 20th, we had three english-speaking students and one spanish-only and our meditation circle was ready to go. Mindful moments of students practicing walking and sitting meditation. But wait, where’s the men? Donde esta los hombres?! Oh, he’s taking the picture!
In these on-going weekly meditation classes with NCMC instructor J. Javier Cruz and assistant Jennifer Becher you will learn basic meditation and how to apply mindfulness in daily life to live with more ease, more joy, and less stress. Sessions include meditation, light yoga stretches, readings, and discussion. You are welcome to join in at any time. Translations to Spanish and Portuguese as needed.
As we watch the weather storms Tropical Storm Isaac, Hurricane Helene, and the incredibly threatening Hurricane Florence, we can use the parallels of our mind storms.
If we’re mindful-and-aware, these mind storms clue us in to their coming. When we catch ourselves in the middle of a mind storm we realize we weren’t attentive to the warning signs. These signs usually come in the small voice of self-talk, either mental or verbalized, that is negative or irrational. On the other hand, we need to be kind to ourselves, even amused at some of our sillier mind storms.
A humorous example comes from an excerpt of a book by meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein where she describes The Broccoli Phenomenon that occurs at retreats. She based it on the many meditators who become agitated at being served ubiquitous and often unappreciated broccoli and their ensuing mind quotes such as, “When I get home, I’m sending them a collection of good cookbooks!”, “If they are determined to serve so much broccoli, they could at least cook it separately, as a side dish!”, and “I guess I’ll put the stew over the rice and pick out the broccoli. I hope they don’t do this to me again!”.
She continues: “Days pass, meals pass, and between bouts of culinary criticism that temporarily cause mind storms, you continue to develop composure. Sitting, walking, breathing, stepping — hour by hour, gradually, while you are busy concentrating, your mind smooths itself out.”
With mind storms, we can choose to distract our minds with positive thoughts until it calms down or we can choose to watch the mind storms objectively from a mental distance, watching them come and go. We use right effort to not react by feeding them more energy caused by habitual negative thinking, impulsive reactions, and even liking them as your act.
Similarly, different people choose different ways to prepare for weather storms. Some leave the area while others stay in the area, safeguard their belongings, hunker down in a shelter, and watch and wait. Each of us approach our storms based on our conditions and relative perceptions.
Given the right conditions a mind storm thunders in and takes over before you know it. When it clouds your whole mind it can sometimes be hard to get out of. Both the cause of the mind state and the mind state itself have become unrecognizable. But, we can develop many mindfulness and meditation skills to get out of them and prevent them from gaining strength.
Given the right conditions a weather storm thunders in. We may not seem to be able to do much about them, but perhaps we can help as much as we can to gradually weaken their effects through our consumer habits, climate change advocacy, praying for those in danger, and making repairs.
PLANTING SEEDS OF DHAMMA Book-Signing • Meditation • Talk • Vendors Saturday Sep. 8 | 7:00pm to 9:00pm Fee: $15 Source of Knowledge Bookstore
RSVP | Details: Greg 973-388-4900 or Ayanna 862-944-8860
CULTIVATING WISDOM & COMPASSION TO HEAL THE COMMUNITY People of Color Full-Day Meditation Retreat Sunday Sep. 9 | 9:30am to 4:30pm Meditation • Talks • Movement • Art • Healing • Affinity Suggested Donation: $30 Atrium Room at the Early Learning Center
Register | Details: ncmc-poc-retreat.eventbrite.com
We’re excited to announce that Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC) is now a book publisher. We are publishing two books by Bhante Kaboggoza Buddharakkhita who will be teaching with NCMC on Saturday and Sunday, September 8th and 9th. The books to be published are Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africa and Sowing Seeds of Peace: Mindfulness Meditation for Finding Peace Within.
They will only be available for a special sale price of $10 and at a limited quantity to participants at the programs — first come first serve! They will soon also be online with Amazon for purchase at $13.95.
This is the first time that these books will be published in the United States and the first books to be published by NCMC!
We have a short term agreement to publish these books online as a trial project in order to see if publishing spiritual and meditation books could provide a slow and steady stream of income for NCMC in order to fulfill our mission and support our programming.
Author of “Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist”, Jan Willis, wrote of the book Planting Dhamma Seeds: “… Venerable Buddharakkhita offers us the rare and fascinating story of his spiritual journey with heart and humor. He skillfully weaves into his personal narrative well-chosen passages from the Pali Buddhist Canon and describes for us the challenges and triumphs of establishing the first Buddhist Centre in Uganda. When I finished reading this engaging account, I was left wishing for more!”
As for Sowing Seeds of Peace, Ib’nallah S. Kazi, Spirit Life Coach at The Spirit Centered Life, describes the book as: “… a breath of fresh air in an age of information overload. Bhante presents the essential elements of meditation practice in a concise and simple language, minus the common filler of metaphysical jargon and scientific theory sandwiched between mounds of case studies. If you want to begin a meditation practice today and progress from the general to more specific techniques for healing and self-development, this book is written for you. Just add consistency.”
All of the proceeds (after costs) from the sale of the books sold at these programs will go to Bhante’s meditation center, Uganda Buddhist Centre, to help support programs such as their Peace School for Children, their Orphan Project, and their Women’s Livelihood Program.
See our newsletter for descriptions of the programs you can attend to purchase these books.
The act of saying grace over a meal and of blessing the dinner table are sacred rituals practiced for millennia across the globe.
From Ghana to Burma and all the way to the Netherlands, human beings incorporate the daily act of eating into their personal and collective spiritual lives.
The blessing of the meal is a time for giving thanks.
Prayers may be directed to a supreme being, to ancestors, the earth or whatever spiritual agency is believed to be of assistance in securing sustenance. Sometimes family members, employees and employers are thanked for the part they play in sustaining an individual or household.
Still a concern for many to this day is the healthiness of a meal they’re about to eat. Invasion of the body by food-born pathogens is a threat that challenges human beings daily. Therefore, some cultures may include request that the meal be allowed to provide strength and vitality — or at least be rendered free of harm.
Not to be overlooked is the impact upon the psyche of that moment of silence when one’s head is bowed and gaze lowered in recognition of our mutual dependence upon all we consider powerful, holy and beneficent.
The few seconds taken to reconnect to the part of us that remains in constant connection with the Unseen Real opens a “spiritual moment.” And in that moment, we invoke the soul elixir that releases the strengthening, healing, beautifying properties of the meal.
We can use the tradition of saying grace as a “conscious opportunity” to create more of those spiritual moments in our day. We don’t have to limit our spiritual practice to being locked away in a specially outfitted room with dimmed lighting, lots of plump pillows and scented candles.
Let’s bring our practice into our “common spaces” — with their sounds and scents of life at its core. First we take back the kitchen, then the toilet, then the garden.
It all adds up.
Ib’nallah S. Kazi is the Spiritual Director of Newark Center for Meditative Culture and a Spiritual Health & Wellness Coach at The Spirit Centered Life.
Led by Ugandan Buddhist monk, Bhante Buddharakkhita (b. Steven Jemba Kaboggoza; bio below), this meditation retreat is specifically for those people from communities of color who are immigrant Americans or reside in America and who consider themselves as indigenous, enslaved, colonized, disenfranchised, and/or marginalized. People of Color retreats are especially intended to provide an affinity group for individuals who daily confront the effects of racism.
We ask that all participants attend the program in its entirety. The program is designed for all to feel comfortable, comprehend, and hold interest — whether you are a beginner, experienced, or committed meditator of any discipline. Consider inviting a meditation buddy to attend with you (it’s a nice supportive practice).
Included in the program will be guided meditation, Dharma Talks, walking meditation, yoga movement, Dyads, and Q&As. There will also be an Art As Insight Workshop. Assisting Bhante from the NCMC board community will be instructors Andrea Lee, Kamilah Crawley, and J. Javier Cruz, and announcer Ihsaan R. Muhammad. (Bios on the Leadership Page of our website.) A vegan meal will be served.
The venue is in a state-of-the-art LEED-certified green building with wheel-chair and elevator access. If the weather is nice we will also use the adjoining Outdoor Courtyard to the Atrium Room during some of the movement sessions. It is an easy and direct .6 mile/11 minute walk from Newark Penn Station. Street parking is available in the area.
Bhante Buddharakkhita’s most popular book, Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africaand his most recent book on meditation, Sowing Seeds of Peace, will be available for purchase. All proceeds after costs will go to his center in Uganda for their projects such as the Peace School for Children, Orphan Project, and Women’s Livelihood Project.
*Donations go to cover program expenses and gifts to teacher and instructors.
8:30 Volunteer Arrival
9:00-9:15 Participant Arrival. Please arrive no later than 9:15.
MORNING SESSION (3 hours)
9:30-12:30 Dharma Talk, Guided Meditation, Yoga Movement, Dyad, Q&A
LUNCH (1 hour)
12:30-1:30 Mindfulness of Eating Guidelines, Meal Blessing, Meal, Rest, Interviews with Teacher
AFTERNOON SESSION (3 hours)
1:30-4:30 Dharma Talk, Guided Meditation, Art Workshop, Walking Meditation, Dyad, Q&A
Bhante Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. He first encountered Buddhism in 1990 while living in India, and he began practicing meditation in 1993. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk by the late Venerable U Silananda in 2002 at the Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose, California and then he spent eight years under the guidance of Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society, West Virginia. He is the founder of the Uganda Buddhist Center in Uganda. Besides spending time at his Center, he is the spiritual director of Flowering Lotus Meditation Center in Magnolia, Mississippi. Bhante has been teaching meditation in Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, and the U.S, since 2005. His book, Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africa, tells the story of his religious and spiritual work in Africa. His most recent book is Sowing Seeds of Peace. He is a Visiting Monastic Teacher with Newark Center for Meditative Culture in New Jersey. He is on the council of advisers to Buddhist Global Relief in New York.
Newark Center for Meditative Culture is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving a diverse urban meditation community. Your tax deductible donations make it possible for us to deliver life-changing programs to the Greater Newark community.
All of our programs are offered as donation-based no-fee to the participant. Instead, we invite all participants to make voluntary gifts to the level of their ability, sometimes with suggested donation amounts. NCMC disperses the donations equitably between teachers and venue providers. We base this system on the practice of dana or generosity, which is inherent to many spiritual traditions.
Re-Naturing Ourselves and Our Children:
The Tree vs. The Screen
Some of our current and past nature programs, left to right, top to bottom: Child sits quietly near meditation circle at Military Park; our new meditation circle in Independence Park; children play at the trees; a child tries a few minutes of meditation, a boys/men mindful nature hike in South Mountain Reservation, an Earth Month pond clean-up and mindfulness in motion in Branch Brook Park with teenagers.
The japanese have a practice called shinrin-yoku, translated to forest-bathing, that simply put means taking the forest in through our senses. To just be in nature, with no particular aim, can bridge the gap beween us and the natural world that we are intrinsically a part of, but too often we have lost touch with.
We use all our senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching to forest bath. Along with awakening the five senses to nature, we can elevate our sixth sense base of consciousness (present with all of these other senses) to a mind state of joy, kindness, and wholeness.
Many of us have become so separate from nature as now the majority of the world’s population lives in cities. Though we might not often be able to go “into the woods”, we have our urban green spaces as little oases.
If not for our own good, we need to consider exposing our urban-bred children to natural settings. There are significant and diverse studies that indicate that being in nature is important to children in their cognitive, emotional, social, and educational development.1 In a more natural way of putting it, we can say that children who experience natural settings are able to stay in touch with themselves and be more peaceful, which helps them to stay more focused and less fragmented.
There too are clear class- and race-based inequalities in urban children’s exposure to the natural world as well as industrial environmental hazards1, but we as a community and as parents and caregivers can make informed choices as to how we use our precious time.
At Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC), being in nature has an important role in our teacher’s practices. Those in the community who keep up with us recognize that bringing nature programs and sessions to the community is a priority.
This summer through the end of August, NCMC is offering two free opportunities to bath in urban nature with us and learn to meditate while you are at it. Each Tuesday we are running Meditation Classes in Independence Park in the Ironbound (translation into spanish and portuguese as requested). Downtown each Wednesday we are running Meditation Classes in Military Park. Weather providing, both start at 7:00pm and go to 8:00pm.
These are Family Friendly programs, so we invite you to bring children who can sit quietly with us or play near us to get their first taste of mindfulness practice in nature.
If you can’t sit with us, perhaps this information will inspire you to commit to engage with nature through local hikes and nature outings or as much as possible get out at lunch to sit at a tree, lay in the grass and look at the sky, or instead of gazing at a television screen or phone screen, step out at night to gaze up at the stars.
The purpose of this course is to help you move beyond settling for the explanation of meditation, into the experience of meditation and a consistent practice. Meditation is something that you have to practice and make a part of your life. You will come to understand what Meditation Medicine means and why meditation is medicine. (See blog post Course 1.0: Introduction to Meditation Medicine—Course Description that gives the entire overview.)
Step 1:Watch Intro to Meditation Medicine Talk 1.4
Short talk about developing a sacred approach to your practice, space, and time in order to focus internally on yourself for power, wellness, and wisdom. (9 min)
Step 2:Listen and practice Guided Meditation 1.4: Self-Healing Meditation Medicine
Short talk on meditation as a self-healing modality within a specialized society and the ensueing fragmention of ourselves that we can heal through meditation. Includes brief body scan and breath meditation and a new practice of Inner Smile meditation. (24 min)
Step 3:Practice what you’ve learned in these videos for a week. Then continue on with your own practice.
We also would love for you to join us if you haven’t already on the Meditation Medicine Study Group on Facebook where we can support each other’s practice through online discussions, sharing relevant posts, and asking questions to the teacher.
Additional Resource:Infographic 1.4: A Consistent Sacred Meditation Practice.
Feel free to print this out and use it as a reference.
Consultation: Optional twenty-minute consultation with Kazi concerning your meditation experiences, insights, challenges, etc. via email, phone, or skype. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request.
Ongoing online group discussions and teachings with Kazi:You can join the Meditation Medicine Study Group on Facebook to engage with a group of kindred spirits to share your meditation medicine journey with.