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     The semester is coming to end and I am overcome with feelings of relief. I must admit, however, that I am also somewhat sad to leave my journey so abrubtly. I have no idea if I will be continuing this school assignment, but I can say that I will continue with all of the new ideas and philosophies that I learned about yoga, meditation, and journalism as a whole and use them in everyday life. Before I take my leave of abscence make sure you check out my five best posts:

1. Buddha Statue

2. Q & A with Kelby Christ, yoga instructor

3. Open-Minded Interviews

 4. 106 degrees, 95 minutes, 26 postures

5. Buddhism in Manhattan

The Chakrasambra Meditation Center is just one of many Buddhist centers in the New York City area.

View from the center window

However it did prove to be the most welcoming to beginners.

After starting out on a journey that began with a list of 18 Buddhist centers in the mid-town Manhattan area alone, a nervous journalism student ended up with only one person who was willing to spend a few moments answering some questions, Taina Cutler, a teacher at the Chakrasambra Meditation Center.

The Chakrasambra Meditation Center follows the Kadampa Buddhist tradition where the main belief is to integrate all of Buddha’s teachings (also known as Dharmas) into every day life and thus revealing the path to enlightenment.

The Chakrasambra Meditation Center was founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, an ordained Buddhist monk born in Tibet, in 1931.

A picture of Gyatso above a statue of Buddha

Gyatso became a monk at the age of 8 and is thought to be responsible for bringing Kadampa Buddhism to the Western world. Gyatso is the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, an international union of Kadampa Buddhist Centers with over 1000 Centers and branches worldwide, according to the Chakrasambra website.
Classes are held at the center 4-5 days a week and they involve everything from beginner’s guided meditation to more advanced discussions of Buddha’s teachings. The center brochure says, “Talks and guided meditations are suitable for everyone. The emphasis is on integrating Buddha’s teachings into our lives.” 

 Chakrasambra also host many meditation/fasting retreats and Kadampa festivals.

The center has many teachers. The main teacher, besides Gyatso, is a man named Kadam Morten, who has been teaching Buddhism for 25 years. On Sunday May 1st it was Taina Cutler’s chance to discuss some of her favorite Buddhist lessons.

Tiana Cutler, teacher at the center

Cutler talked about Karma and confessed that though she is the mother of a  2-year-old child, she is still able to find the time to meditate daily.

Victor Torres attends classes weekly at the center and was there May 1st during what the center calls “Lunchtime Meditation”. He began his study and practice of Buddhism years ago while struggling to get through a hard break up.

“I was going through a tough time and would find myself staring at fountains and water to calm myself. then I began talking classes here and now here I am three years later,” said Torres. 

The Chakrasambra Meditation Center is beautifully yet simply decorated with Buddha statues, small fruit trees and an array of candles and inscnce. The teacher sits croos-legged upon a wodden podium with a microphone connected to a micstand rests near. Studenst can sit either in rows of metal chairs or on cushions on the floor.

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(Finding a Buddhist Center near you can be easy if you use this directory .)

Having trouble finding quality places to buy those cute yoga clothes? Can’t seem to find that yoga accessory you want? Check out these five sites for the best of yoga supplies online.

1. Barefoot Yoga

2. LuLulemon

3. Sanctuary Yoga

4. Yoga Matter

5. Yoga Supplies

In such a hectic world, finding a place to clear your mind and meditate can be hard.

A meditation sanctuary can be anything from a place outside in nature to a small corner in your house.  However, bad weather will often ruin any out-door sanctuary.

Creating a place in your home for solely meditation will help relieve anxiety and stress.

Meditation spaces should be free of clutter, and it is often suggested to represent the four elements: fire, water, earth, and wind.

According to Chris Lee Roy the author of the article,  “Seven Things You Should Consider for Your Meditation Room,” cushions, incense, small prayer tables, music, candles, pictures, and flowers are things that can help transform your space into a peaceful, relaxing sanctuary.

Collin Dube, a senior at Rowan University, meditates everyday. He got into it after a friend suggested it would help keep him positive and help to center him. “When it’s nice out I like to go to the beach otherwise I’ll usually just sit in my room and light a couple of candles,” says Dube.

Meditation rooms can be anything you want. A few candles and a pillow could suffice. As long as its peaceful enough for complete concentration.

105 degrees, 90 minutes, 26 postures

Photo courtesy of Bikramyoga voorhees.com

<–For Jessica Gardner being in a 105 degree room is nothing unusual. She is a Bikram yoga instructor and owner of Bikram Yoga Voorhees. Gardner’s studio is only a year old but she’s been practicing this type of yoga for nearly 11 years. 

 Danielle Villa is, however, a beginner in this type of yoga. She went to her first class yesterday at Bikram Yoga  Voorhees on 4/12/11.–>

 

 

 

Hear what a  professional and beginner have to say about Bikram yoga. 

(Villa didn’t realize I was recording and jumped in. It was funny so I thought I’d interview her as well.)

***

My experience:

Jessica Gardner was very willing to accommodate me as a beginner. Everyone was very welcoming. The temperature was a little hard to get used to at first and I don’t believe I have ever sweated that much in my life, but it felt amazing. You do each posture twice, and there’s 26 of them. The second time doing the poses I found that I could get into it a little easier, and stretch a little further. I left covered in sweat but refreshed. I felt like I had sweated away all of my worry and stress and felt like a new person. I will definitely be going back soon.

If you are interested in trying Bikram yoga and are in the South Jersey area, make sure to check out Bikram Yoga Voorhees at 250 Haddonfield-Berlin Rd. Suite 202 in Gibbsboro, NJ 08026.

Open-Minded Interviews

As I scrambled with my audio recorder, microphone, and headphones waiting for my interviewees to arrive, I sat in the middle of the Student Center Pit, which is apparently not a quiet location. As my nerves began to tap dance around my stomach, I waited for three members of the  Open-Minded Spirits Club. OMS is a meditation and spiritual club that meets once a week at Rowan.

Here is what some of the members had to say about yoga, meditation, and spirituality:

First, I met with Catherine McCarthy, the treasurer of OMS.

Next came Wayne Kenney, a self-proclaimed honorary member of OMS.

Finally, I met with Justin Uscenski, the president and co-founder of OMS.

Listening to music while practicing meditation, and even yoga, is often recommended because it has many benefits. Listening to music helps one become more aware of their bodies at a deep level, because every tone and sound has a different effect on the body. Music can promote harmony with the mind, body, and spirit just as different notes and instruments harmonize to create sound. Listening to meditation music also promotes relaxation, and helps with concentration, which is key for proper meditation and yoga. By listening to the music and focusing on the sounds a state of mental clarity can be reached fast.

Ten best sites for free meditation music:

1.) The conscious Life

2.) Write Spirit

3.) Poet Seers

4.) Free Meditation

5.) Omstream

6.) Meditation Music

7.) My Inner World

8.) Download Meditation

9.) Ambient Music Garden

10.) Wealth Vibes

Top Five Sites for Yoga Beginners

1. Yoga Wiz - This site is perfect for those with little knowledge of yoga. It describes the different types of yoga, and even has tips for diets, poses, and anything you could wish to learn about.

2. Yoga Journal - This site is also a magazine. It is helpful because it connects beginners with others starting out and it has many videos and pictures for those that need extra help getting into tough poses.

3. My Yoga Online - This website discusses other aspects of yoga other than poses and connects you with an entire yoga community.

4. Yoga for Life - This site introduces every aspect of yoga in detail for a beginner.

5. Yoga Basics - This website walks you through the basics, which is perfect for those of you beginning your journey like myself.

     Want to find a yoga class near you but you’re having trouble? Yoga  finder will be your best friend.

     Mantra meditation, or chant meditation, has been practiced for many years in all Buddhist traditions and even Hinduism. It is believed to focus the mind through the repetition of sound vibrations. The mind absorbs the vibrations from the mantras causing all other thoughts/worries/fears to be casted away from thought. Mantra meditation is believed to lift one’s consciousness to a higher level to bring the mind closer to enlightenment.

     The most popular mantra is “Ommmmm” or “Aummmmm“. Try it. Sit in proper position, eyes closed, and repeat this mantra aloud over and over until you can just recite it in your thoughts. It’s simple but powerful.

     In Hinduism, there is the Hare Ram Hare Krishna Mantra, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Krishna is worshiped in Hinduism, and this chant to him is believed to bring inner-peace and pleasure.

   There is also a Pure Land Buddhism (Japan) chant “Namu Amida Butsa.”  This translates into “Homage to the Buddha of Infinite Light.”

    An example of a Tibetan Buddhism chant is “Om Mani Padme Hum.”  There is no agreed upon translation.

    There is even a Zen chant called the Heart Sutra.

     In all of these mantras the words are meant to be said in low tones and dragged out in full, long breaths.

Zen, what is it?

      Zen philosophy is a form of Buddhism, so they are very similar. It originated in Asia, and Zen meditation emphasizes mindfulness and concentration, just like Buddhist meditation. Zen teachings preach that contemplation and the exclusion of all other things are the only way of achieving enlightenment. All meditation, no matter which form, is very much alike. If you learn to control the mind you can reach a state of inner peace.

     Next, some zen words from some very zen men that I have been trying to live each day by:

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” – Buddha

“When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.” - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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