ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23rd we held our first retreat in our first home at 2 Park Place. The topic was Community-Building with Clarity & Compassion. You can see from the faces of the students that it was a wonderful experience! It was fitting that Rebecca Li led the retreat as she has been supporting programs with NCMC since 2012.
We are grateful to her for dharma and meditation teachings as practiced by Dharma Drum, to Leslie of I’m So Yoga for her yoga session, and to Kathryn Davis of Heart of Mind Radio for her qigong session.
And what a great team of volunteers we had! Thank you to Ella and Ivette for their retreat day support, to Tenisha for social media promotions, and to her daughter Ariyan for the fantastic photos. We are grateful for the delicious vegan meal, a kind donation prepared by a veteran caterer, Vijaya Dharmapuri.
A special thanks to Jennifer, General Coordinator; Vijay, Food Coordinator; and Javier, Deputy Coordinator, as well as to Andrea, our Treasurer, for registration coordination.
The students were awesome, engaged, and attentive — comprehending with keen awareness the powerful yet invisible dynamics of community.
Choose Full or Half Day Participation: Full-day: 10:00am-4:30pm Half-day: 10:00am-2:00pm -or- 12:30pm-4:30pm
A donation-based Program, suggested:
Adults $30 full / $20 half Students 18+ $20 full / $15 half Youths 7-17 Free accompanied by adult.
In this day-long retreat, the invisible yet powerful dynamics in community life are discussed, encouraging practitioners to cultivate a keen awareness of them to engage in community life with wisdom and compassion. Dharma and meditation teacher Rebecca Li will lead this retreat that will include guided meditation, mindful movement practice, dharma talk, and discussion. As well, Leslie will lead a gentle yoga session in the morning while Kathryn Davis will lead a flowing qigong session in the afternoon.
Appropriate for beginners and experienced participants. Youths aged 7-17 who can sit quietly are welcome to attend with adults for free. Vegetarian lunch included. Wheelchair access, ground floor.
Like many things we do regularly, as monotonous as they might appear, there is always a purpose. We choose good purposes and bad purposes. To develop mindfulness and meditation can open your eyes to what is truly in front of you and help you to make good choices. It is proven to reduce stress and bring more focus to your mind. Done in community it expands to our ever-evolving culture and can result in a more collective peace of mind. You might even tie your shoes more skillfully, and as if for the first time.
Weekly Meditation & Mindful Movement | Tuesdays, 6:30 to 7:45pm | 2 Park Place, Newark, NJ | Donation-based, Youths free. | Translations in Español and Português available. Family friendly. | There will be no class on Nov. 26th.
Teachers Rebecca Li and Shaka Georges guided once again an engaging retreat for NCMC — expecially important since the majority of the students were beginners. The students asked excellent questions during the Q&A’s. The reflections got personal and the students empathized, connected, and learn from each other because of it. Of concern to many was how to bring what they learned on the cushion home to the people they live with and see often.
A couple teachings that were taken home to practice were: a) See things for what they are and not what you think they should be. So pay attention as the ideas in your mind are most often not what is right in front of you, and, b) Suffering provides us with the opportunity to observe and experience our habits. We always have a choice to continue acting out our habits or free ourselves to expose the truth through mindfulness.
One student commented that they would take home the art of seeing people the way they are and another about how it helps to practice with others and to hear their questions about the practice.
We had one 10 year old participant who had lots of fun with the movement meditations and was the first to volunteer to show her drawing and explain it during the Art of Seeing workshop.
The vegan lunch was a hit! People came back for seconds and there were plenty of compliments. We thank our volunteers Elena, Marcus, and Teneka for their support at the retreat. And kudos to Elvis for his beautiful art photography of the program. We are especially grateful for the teachers Rebecca and Shaka for practicing with us.
And, as always, thank you to Lowell, director of Index Art Center, for providing assistance, and this time, such a colorful venue to experience… and well, see!
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.
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.
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.
Spend the day with Newark Center for Meditative Culture relaxing into your body and mind to cultivate clarity, taught by guest meditation and dharma teachers Rebecca Li and Shaka Georges. Optional part-day participation (morning or afternoon session). Retreatants will receive guidance in sitting, walking, and moving meditation. The afternoon session will also include art/written word workshop on the Art of Seeing. This donation-based day retreat is appropriate for beginners to advanced meditators, aged 18 and older*. Vegetarian lunch included.
SUGGESTED DONATION $20 Adult/$10 Student, but donate what fits into your budget.
Tax-deductible donations through PayPal/Credit Card when you register or Cash-at-Door. Donations go to gift teachers and to help cover rent and other expenses for this event. Donations are much needed and appreciated. Consider donating even if you can’t attend!
Consider volunteering as your donation to attend OR volunteer AND attend! Or you can just volunteer and not attend! We need help with class set-up, buffet set-up, check-in desk, lunch service/clean-up, time-keeping and announcing, break-down, and vegetarian food donations. Please let us know when you fill out the registration form if you would like to volunteer in any of these ways and we’ll get back to you!
SUPPORT THE EVENT
Can’t attend but would like to help support this event? We always need help gifting the teachers and for venue rental and other event expenses.
Make tax-deductible donations through PayPal/Credit Card: paypal.me/NCMCevents
We also greatly appreciate NCMC friends who want to volunteer at the retreat, but not attend. Contact us at email@example.com.
*If you feel that it’s important or necessary that your child/youth attend with you and you are able to mind and be responsible for your child/youth (aged 8 -17) during the retreat, you are welcome to submit one child when you register. They should be able to sit still and silent for extended periods.
ABOUT THE TEACHERS:
Rebecca Li, a Dharma heir in the lineage of the Chan Master Sheng Yen, started practicing meditation in 1995. She began her teacher’s training with Master Sheng Yen in 1999 to become a Dharma and meditation instructor. Later on, she trained with Simon Child to lead intensive retreats and received full Dharma transmission in 2016. Currently, she teaches meditation and Dharma classes, gives public lectures and leads retreats at Dharma Drum centers, university meditation groups and Dharma practice groups in the northeast. Her talks and writings can be found at www.rebeccali.org. Rebecca Li is also a professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at The College of New Jersey.
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 and Harrison NJ (see Discovering The Healer Within Facebook page) and is a mathematics high school teacher in West Orange.
The beginning of a new year has become the traditional time to evaluate our lives. So let’s do it! And let’s use a brick as our multi-purpose metaphor.
As a starting point, we’ll take this well-known quote by actor Will Smith: “You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” There’s a lot of wisdom in these words, but let’s examine brick laying more closely as it applies to our meditative and spiritual perspectives.
First of all, who are we?
When we reflect on who or what we are, we might imagine that we are a person carrying 5 piles of bricks on our shoulders. These bricks might represent the five aggregates in buddhist psychology — form, feeling, perception, fabrication, and consciousness. We hold tight to these constantly changing piles of bricks trying to keep these activities from changing.
We can let these aggregates/bricks weigh us down. So why not instead of carrying piles of bricks on our shoulders, we take them off and lay them along the ground and simply observe and adjust them.
Why am I where I am today?
Let’s go back to the brick wall. Some of us may need to dismantle our wall and start a radical new wall. Others might just have one brick to start with. Others of us may have already built a beautiful brick wall, basking in our glory, only to see ourselves like Humpty Dumpty, falling, out of our carelessness or mistakes. Or, we might be building around others who are effecting us with their rubble, their taller walls, or poorly made walls. Then it’s vital to practice non-judgement and patience as we build our own.
Or, we may have fallen from no apparent reason at all to us! That’s just how it appears sometimes. Humpty Dumpty couldn’t be put together again when he fell off his brick wall. However, we can find that there always is a way to start over — again and again and again — but under different conditions and possibly with different aims in building our new “biggest, baddest, greatest wall”.
Then what direction should we take?
Now that we’ve laid our aggregate bricks on the ground, we can use these bricks rather than have them use us, to construct a beautiful pathway. For example, we might see the pathway we construct as the buddhist eightfold path: upright view, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. When we apply our concentration and mindfulness through the practice of meditation, it can have good effect on the other bricks on the path.
Is this a perfect “yellow brick road”? Not quite, there will be bumps and road blocks along the way, but the sense of well-being and inner happiness that continue to develop will be worth the practice of these meditative life skills. Once you have a committed practice you can broaden your road and even jump on and off the pavement to move skillfully through many modes of life situations.
How can we merge spirituality with success?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to go first or be the best, provided that our intention is to help pave the way for others along the way! We can help make others’ paths more easy — we can give them a little mortar or offer a brick.
There’s a quote attributed to the Sufi sage Rumi: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” But then, why do some of us not get what we work hard for and want? We can’t all be great hip-hop artists or brain surgeons, but our passion for music might manifest in a different way in our work or at home. Our ability to be deft with our hands and make quick decisions might not manifest as becoming a surgeon, but instead as a wonderful conscientious activist homemaker.
So what about inner happiness?
Let’s start building with the brick of breath. Breath is form. We take one breath at a time, aware of the moment, aware also of our body, which is also form — with perhaps a little smile on our face — and be happy, that’s all. Be happy with ourselves as we are. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Perhaps we can each become a BRICK HOUSE of Inner Happiness! Happy new year! Peace.