Taking Root in Black History Month

“What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out.”
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

By Ib’nallah S. Kazi

During Black History Month, we retrace our historical steps. We learn where we came from and how it is we came to find ourselves in the present situation. Thus, when we reach a crossroad (a decisive moment in life or history) we are better equipped to navigate in a way that brings us closer to our destination.

When this happens it can be helpful to retrace your steps. Turn around and walk back along the path until you see a trail marker, a unique tree or boulder that you recognize having seen on the “right path” before you zoned out.

When hiking the trail of life, do we sometimes look up from the ground and find that we have been walking in circles? It’s very easy to get lost in thought during a long walk in the wilderness.

Trees never get lost on their journey from earth to sky. Because they are firmly rooted in the earth, the winds are unable to alter their destination.

Meditators firmly rooted in their breath recover quickly from thoughts that pull them away from their center.

Humans rooted in the lessons of history are not distracted by fake news or turned around by fear mongering. They seek guidance in the wisdom of their ancestors and strength from the righteousness and inevitable victory of their struggle.


Relaxing into Clarity: A Daylong Meditation & Mindfulness Retreat on February 25th

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Optional Part-Day Participation

Sunday, February 25, 2018
10:00am to 4:00pm
Venue: Index Art Center, 237 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102

ALL MUST REGISTER! Go to registration form.

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.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE
• MORNING (9:30-9:45 Arrival/Check-in)
10:00-12:25 Morning Workshop
• LUNCH (12:10 Arrival/Check-in)
12:25-1:25
• AFTERNOON (1:10 Arrival/Check-in)
1:30-4:00 Afternoon Workshop

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!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
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 info@newarkmeditation.org.

*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.


ALL MUST REGISTER! Go to registration form.

 


It’s Time to Play…“Where’s. My. Mind?!”

A Free Game for Kids to Adults

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Start Tonight or When Your Mind is Ready!
During the holiday busy-ness, our minds scatter, our minds digress, our minds stress! But also, our minds can go overboard with joy and giddiness that result in post-holiday mind crashes. So let’s play (drum roll) Where’s. My. Mind? — a 24-hour “game” that you can play by yourself or with family or friends for one day a week or 24/7. It brings you back to the present and can make you laugh, be bemused, slightly embarrassed, self-respecting, or yes, even insightful at what thought was interrupted by your mindfulness bell. It’s a great learning tool to bring you back into the present and keep you there longer. Here’s how it works:

Back to the Breath
Set your reminder/alarm for on-the-hour including your wake-up time, but excluding hours within your sleeping period. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the :08, :30, or :49 or whatever chosen minute, just make it consistent. For example, if you play one day a week you might start with Wednesday at 7pm*, end at 10pm when you go to sleep, and start back up with your wake up time on Thursday and every on-the-hour through 10pm to end the game. When the alarm goes off, set your timer for a minute or so or continue without a timer. Note what you are doing, then quickly go to the mind and observe where it is and sit with it for a minute or two. Then, reel your mind back in if it’s gone elsewhere, back to the breath, and what’s at hand.

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Advanced Players who are good at body-mind scans might like to try out observing your chi (energy) cycle, that according to Chinese traditional medicine system, occurs every two hours and is related to different organs, mental qualities, and mind states. Check out the chart below. To start to get into your natural beat again you can go to Understanding the 24-Hour Chi Cycle —or— Meet the Chinese Body Clock: Is This Why You’re Waking Up at Night?.

Where’s. My. Mind? is a great game — fun and enlightening for the whole family! Have your kids or friends text you after their reminders go off to find out where their mind is and tell them where yours was (well, er, perhaps sometimes not!). It could be a precious gift to you all!

*You can join the group NCMC Sit Home Soul Group on www.insighttimer.com or use your own App and get into the game on Wednesday nights from your home.

Chinese Body Clock image credit: www.fiveseasonsmedicine.com

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. *