Overview of our Newark IntraCity Park Hike

Capturing the Spirit of Autumn

It was a spectacular day on Saturday, November 10th for a hike through a 5.5 mile stretch of Newark NJ. The weather was a bit chilly, sunny, and breezy so we were bundled up. This was Newark Center for Meditative Culture’s first such program, though we have done shorter nature walks and hikes through Branch Brook Park and South Mountain Reservation. This particular hike was held in cooperation with Hikeolution and The Spirit Centered Life.

It was also a day of renewal for one of our urban hikers as this was the way she was spending her birthday – and we shared in her renewal.

We started off with a prayer for guidance and protection by co-leader Kazi, spiritual director of NCMC, forming a circle around a large tree near the northern corner of Lincoln Park.

Walking north on Broad Street for a while, we then entered Military Park, the base for NCMC’s warm season outdoor meditation and tai-chi. Here we picked up a few more hikers. We again made a circle. This time on the Great Lawn where Kazi lead us in a graceful flowing tai-chi movement called Wave Hands Like Clouds.

We continued along Broad to Washington Park studying the monuments. A nice surprise participant to our hike was Suzanne Joblonski of Newark Centric City. She gave us an informal and informative tour of the landmarks and background of Newark along the way. We also had two members of the Appalacian Mountain Club join us too — one from NYC and the other all the way from Philly!

We learned from co-leader Keyana Jones that we were following the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail of the Lenni-Lenape, indigenous people of this area. She pointed out a marked tree on James Street and we were to continue on this trail through Branch Brook Park. Her associate, Leslie Arthur, described how this trail is 34 miles long. Newark and Millburn are at either end, the trail bowing all the way north just into Passaic County.

We continued to make our way, our hike zig-zagging back and forth along concrete and grass, crossing over Route 280 to Branch Brook Park. Following along the blazed trail, we stopped along the way to reflect on the lakes and absorb the colors of the berries in purples, reds, oranges, and golds.

Our “great ascent” was to climb the some 25 steps up to a large meadow. Here we practiced a qi-gong standing meditation that Kazi called The Mother, an energy harvesting form that in just a few minutes of practice, the group felt results.

Almost there, we sauntered a little while longer close to the cherry blossom groves and crossed over into Belleville at 5.47 miles. Retracing our steps back a little way into Newark, we ended our beautiful and peace-filled urban nature hike.

Urban Nature Bathing

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.

1Reference Article: Childhood Development and Access to Nature: A New Direction for Environmental Inequality Research; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162362/

For further information, contact Newark Center for Meditative Culture at info@newarkmeditation.org.