CLEAR MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER HAS MOVED - January 15, 2017 !!
After approximately 10 years at its storefront location on Lackawanna Plaza in Montclair, Clear Mountain Zendo has moved to a new location. Our last Sunday Zazen service was held at our old location on Lackawanna Plaza on Sunday, January 15, 2016. On Sunday, January 22, our first Zazen will take place at the new location, which is at 7 Oak Place in Montclair. We will be located in an office suite on the ground floor of "The Mill at Walnut Street" professional center, a former knitting mill that was converted to office space. This building is near the NJ Transit Walnut Street train station on the Montclair-Boonton Line (it is on the same side that the restaurant / former train station is located, just a few hundred yards to the north; for long-term Montclarians, "it's near the former State inspection station"). The building has several entrances; our zendo can only be accessed via the 7 Oak Place doorway, which is in the northwest quadrant of the building, facing away from the railroad line and closest to Oak Place. There will be adequate off-street parking available at the center for our members during non-business hours, i.e. on weekends. On week days, our members may only park in the lot before 9 am and after 6 pm, which is when most of our weekday activities take place.
Below you can find a map and two aerial photos to help you find our building and locate our entrance (at the arrow), along with a photo of Head Monk Jeff Kuschner and Mark (who hosts the Tuesday evening group) standing at the doorway, and Sensei Carl Bachmann with some of our members inside our new home. Although we will greatly miss our former Lackawanna Plaza home, which served us well, our new location is larger and offers more flexibility such as seperate rooms for daisan discussions, a library, and a small coffee pantry. Our schedule and that of our affiliate space users will remain the same at the new location (with the eventual potential for an expansion of our activities).
Full Moon / New Moon Gong Sound Bath
The Clear Mountain Zen Center will host a series of Full Moon / New Moon Healing Gong Sound Bath ceremonies presented by Jarna Parikh, with dessert also made and provided by Jarna. These ceremonies last for 2 hours. The cost of the these events is $35. The gong sound bath is a group therapy meditation based on an ancient technique from Asia. A complete sound bath produces an amazing sense of well-being through the vibration of all the water within the body. The healing process is intensified during the full moon and new moon. It is a sacred time.
The following Sound Bath ceremonies are planned:
-Full Moon Sound Bath, June 9, 2017 Friday from 7 to 9 pm
-New Moon Sound Bath, June 23, 2017 Friday from 7 to 9 pm
-Full Moon Sound Bath, July 8, 2017 Saturday from 4 to 6 pm
-New Moon Sound Bath, July 22, 2017 Saturday from 4 to 6 pm
-Full Moon Sound Bath, September 6, 2017 Wednesday from 10 am to 12 Noon
-New Moon Sound Bath, September 20, 2017 Wednesday from 10 am to 12 Noon
-Full Moon Sound Bath, October 6, 2017 Friday from 7 to 9 pm
-New Moon Sound Bath, October 19, 2017 Thursday from 7 to 9 pm
-Full Moon Sound Bath, November 4, 2017 Saturday from 4 to 6 pm
-Full Moon Sound Bath, January 1, 2018 Monday from 4 to 6 pm.
Please wear comfortable clothes, bring your own yoga mat, blanket/shawl, and water. You can register for these events at www.eventbrite.com (search on Jarna and Montclair, NJ) or contact Jarna Parikh at 917-916-0570 to RSVP. More information on these events can be found here.
An All-Night Healing Circle and Gong Sound Poojna celebrating the Summer Solstice will be held from 9 pm on Friday, June 23, 2017 until 5 am, Saturday June 24. The cost of this event is $60 with pre-registration. See Eventbrite Calendar for more information and registration.
April 11 Full PINK Moon Feminine Healing Circle
On Tuesday April 11, 2017, the Clear Mountain Zen Center will host "Blessings of the Full PINK Moon Healing Circle -- A Spring Celebration Honoring the Feminine Divine" from 10 am to 12 noon. Spring is about Birth & New Beginnings ... Let Us Plant New Seeds with Great LOVE & INTENTION Together. Join Aggie Kuschner & Jarna Parikh in the Circle to Partake in Gift of Self Healing.
The Offerings are:
-Self Love Blessing Ritual-
-Heart Opening Mantra-
-Sacred Sound Healing Gong Bath-
-Pink Blessing Oil, Pink Rose Quartz Crystals-
-Pink Rose Tea and a Prasad/Dessert will be presented to accentuate the vibrational energy of the PINK FULL MOON.
The cost of this event is $40 with pre-registration via eventbrite, or $45 at the door.
Please wear comfortable clothes, bring your own yoga mat, blanket/shawl, and water. You can register for these events at www.eventbrite.com or contact Jarna Parikh at 917-916-0570 to RSVP. A flyer can be downloaded here.
Empty Bowl Zendo, Garrison Sesshin Retreat
The Empty Bowl Zendo of Morristown, NJ will hold its 3-day Spring Sesshin Retreat at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY
from Thursday Evening, March 23, 2017 thru Sunday afternoon, March 26, 2017. Spring sesshin is an intensive time for meditation when silence
is maintained and the focus is on zazen which is done together as a community. Sesshin is a foundational practice for practitioners wishing to
look into the great matter of our life. The Sesshin will be led by Sensei Ray Ruzan Cicetti of Empty Bowl, and Sensei Carl Bachmann of Clear
Mountain Zendo will also be present on certain days. For more information, prices and registration, please see the Garrison Institute announcement.
Thursday Evening Mindfulness Meditation Group, 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, Beginning March 9, 2017
A new meditation group focusing on mindfulness meditation has begun using the Clear Mountain Zen Center from 6:30 to 8 PM on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.
The group is led by Bradley, and welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds interested in practicing mindfulness in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.
"We practice mindfulness to develop our capacity to live happily in the present moment and to find peace within ourselves, whether we're eating, sitting, walking, working, or enjoying a cup of tea.
We meet as a community to meditate and have discussions about the practice in our own lives. Thanks, Bradley."
Note -- this group is not formally associated with Clear Mountain Zen Center, but shares the Zen tradition's dedication to meditative practice.
For further information, contact Bradley at email@example.com
Friday Morning Meditation Group, 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, and Monday Evenings, 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM
The SpiritDoodle meditation group meets twice weekly at Clear Mountain Zen Center. This group is led by Chantel, and provides a good starting point for those who are new and unfamiliar with meditation. Meetings will be held on a weekly basis, on Friday mornings from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM and on Monday Evenings from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
Note -- this group is not formally associated with Clear Mountain Zen Center, but shares the Zen tradition's dedication to meditative practice. For further information, contact Chantel at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-400-9151. Also see spiritdoodle.com.
Sensei Carl's Note Regarding "The Meaning of Life"
Sensei Carl Bachmann recently contributed an essay on "The Meaning of Life" to Nicolae Tanase's "Excellence Reporter" web site. Here is the link to Sensei's thoughts.
You can also hear Sensei's talk this past Sunday at Clear Mountain regarding life's meaning, and whether the idea of a "meaning to life" is even an important matter, at our web site using this link
The Excellence Reporter is a collection of over 700 short and valuable essays on life from a wide variety of writers, thinkers, teachers, religious leaders, scientists, therapists, etc. The Clear Mountain sangha thanks Mr. Tanase for inviting our teacher to be a part of this wonderful resource to the world.
Clear Mountain Hosts Local 5th and 6th Graders Studying Medieval Japan
On Monday Nov. 7, 2016, Bill Nathan and Head Monk Jeff Kuschner met with a group of about 20 fifth graders from the Montclair Co-op School to introduce them to the Zen tradition, as part of their study of medieval Japan . We meditated together and chanted the Morning and Evening Gatha, as well as a verse of the Heart Sutra (with Bill keeping time on the makugio). We also did kinhin walking meditation. The trip was arranged by their teacher, who was accompanied by some of the parents. Both Bill and I enjoyed ourselves as did the kids and the accompanying adults.
On Tuesday Nov. 8, the sixth graders came in, and both Sensei Carl Bachmann and Head Monk Jeff were there. We had about 18 students along with their teacher, as well as other adults including the Co-op School Principal. We meditated with them and afterward they asked a lot of questions and made some very acute observations about meditation and its benefits. I spoke of my hope that meditation might be used at the beginning or end of the school day and talked with them about developing a home practice. Once again, we had a very good time together.
For Groups Interested in Short-Term Rental Use of the Clear Mountain Zendo Space
The Clear Mountain Zendo facility is available at certain times throughout the week for short-term use by other small meeting groups with similar spiritual / community-service objectives. We require a fee for each use, but are willing to negotiate the payment amount based upon the group's mission and fiscal means. Our zendo is located in an office suite in "The Mill at Walnut Street" professional building downtown Montclair. Off-street parking is available after 7pm and on Sunday. Our space consists of several smaller rooms with the main meditation hall in the center (this area is carpeted). Bathrooms are available in the office building hallway; refrigeration and food warming are not available. Several electrical outlets are available to power small-sized computer devices, recording devices or visual presentation devices. Approximately 10 folding chairs and a small folding table can be utilized (although the group can bring its own additional chairs or tables as appropriate for the space available – but storage before or after meetings would not be available). Sitting cushions are also available for meditation or floor-level group discussions.
The space would accommodate groups of up to 25 people. It would be appropriate for meditation sessions or similar small spiritually-oriented meetings or classes, counseling or discussion groups, etc. Any usage would need to be relatively quiet, i.e. no loud music, speech, public address systems, or other high-volume activity, in consideration of our setting amidst other building tenants. We are willing to discuss both one-time and regular usage, based upon time availability. If interested, please e-mail us for more information at email@example.com. Please let us know in the e-mail how and when to contact you for further discussion.
Practice Circle for Winter, 2017
Our practice study circle continues to discuss various chapters from the book "Buddha's Daughters" concerning the writings of modern women teachers.
We recently held a "safe space" discussion recently where attendees could share their emotions and impressions in response to the recent 2016 US Presidential Election. Further sessions regarding this topic are anticipated in the near future.
Cicely Cottingham recently conducted a 3-session discussion about racial relationships in our nation and "white privilege", and how various Zen teachers and practicioners have responded to this issue.
We anticipate having other guest speakers to discuss a variety of relevant topics in the near future.
Our sangha holds a practice circle during the 4th sitting period (from 10:30 to 11:00 am on Sundays), usually twice each month.
Research on The Benefits of Meditation
The members of the Clear Mountain Zen Center were recently discussing the personal benefits of having a regular meditation practice, both informally and during the twice-monthly practice circle discussions during Sunday zazen. Sangha member Jim Gerofsky decided to follow up on this by looking into what medical science has been saying lately about the topic. Here is his report:
To say the least, Zen practitioners are usually quite aware of the benefits of meditation. For students of Zen, quiet sitting and inner stillness usually become more than a practice. They becomes a way of life. The holistic benefits of sitting may seem obvious to the practitioner; but the to the culture and institutions that surround us here in America, this matter is often approached in terms of hard facts and reproducible, quantifiable observations. Can mindful meditation meet the challenge that medical and psychological science put before it?
Increasingly, it can and does. Over the past 25 years, a variety of small studies by medical and psychology researchers have hinted that meditation has positive effects on blood pressure, perception sensitivity (both in terms of sensory sensitivity and interpretive ability, e.g. pattern recognition), positive emotional states, and stress response. Many questions remained, however, including whether these effects were transitory, i.e. did they diminish over time as a person continues a regular meditative practice, or do they permanently benefit the body and brain. (citation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_on_meditation)
Within recent years, larger and more formal studies have been performed regarding the body and brains' response to regular meditation, and the news continues to be good. A “meta-study” of ongoing research was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and concluded that “mindfulness meditation programs had shown moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression, and pain management and low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health–related quality of life.” This study was authored by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, who reviewed nearly 19,000 meditation studies, finding 47 trials that met their criteria for well-designed studies. (citation: archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1809754)
One of the included studies, by Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped quell anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability. Results from meditators were compared against a control group. The control group was taught general stress management techniques, and showed improvement in stress response; but not as much as those in the meditation group. All the participants received similar amounts of time, attention, and group interaction. (citation: www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967)
Not surprisingly, the Johns Hopkins researchers do not find meditative practice to be a panacea, a 'cure for all that ails you'. However, their cautious wording still implies that significant and beneficial effects meeting scientific standards have been observed and recorded with regard to meditation. They go so far as to recommend that medical doctors discuss meditation with their patients as a part of an overall treatment plan for stress-related effects: “clinicians should be aware that meditation programs can result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress. Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”
Another recent study attempts to dig deeper into the biological mechanisms through which the psychological effects of meditation benefit the body. Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn together with researchers at UCLA, published a study in 2012 finding that 12 minutes of daily yoga meditation for eight weeks caused an average 43% increase in telomerase activity within body cells, relative to a control group, suggesting an improvement in stress-induced aging. This pilot study, published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that brief daily meditation practices by people who are involved in stressful activity (in this case, people who are caring for elderly relatives with dementia) generally leads to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression. An increase in telomerase activity was concurrently observed, suggesting reduction of stress-induced cellular aging. Interestingly, the average age of the study subjects was about 60 years old (hinting that it's never too late to start reaping the benefits of meditation!). However, the researches cautioned that the initial study results need to be confirmed in a larger sample. (citation: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407663)
The Harvard Medical School has also been involved recently in research on meditation. John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how mental practices that trigger a relaxation response can affect genes and brain activity in people experiencing chronic stress. An initial publication from this study indicated that mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function, enhancing the state of both body and mind. (citation: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0062817)
Unlike earlier stress-related meditation studies, Dr. Denninger's overall effort is the first to focus on participants with high levels of stress. The initial study showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had no previous meditation experience. While treatment with pharmaceuticals and therapy are still essential, Dr. Denninger sees yoga and meditation as useful and potentially effective treatment enhancements for patients. (citation: www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-22/harvard-yoga-scientists-find-proof-of-meditation-benefit.html)
Furthermore, the cover article in the November, 2014 issue of Scientific American provided an overview of the latest neuroscience research regarding the various ways that mindfulness creates changes in the brain that improve mental focus and reduce stress. The article, entitled "The Mind of the Meditator", was written by French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard and neuroscientists Antoine Lutz and Richard Davidson.
Perhaps we are living in an historic time with regard to Zen practice. We modern Western practitioners are participating in the re-rooting of an ancient Eastern tradition, and this transplantation effort is still less than a century old, only a small fraction of the span of history covered by our heritage. And yet, despite great differences in thought and approach, our Western culture is perhaps already seeing, through its own lenses, some evidence regarding the wisdom of what we seek, and of how we seek it.
Clear Mountain Zen Center
7 Oak Place
Montclair, NJ 07042
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Clear Mountain Zendo
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