Special Events


Clear Mountain / NCJW Food Drive, Period Project

Clear Mountain Zendo partnered with the National Council of Jewish Women of Essex (NCJW/Essex) in holding a November food drive to support the "Empty Bowls No More" anti-hunger initiative. Gail Sample of NCJW/Essex thanks everyone from Clear Mountain who donated food items for the Thanksgiving food drive or feminine hygiene products for their Period Project.

Gail recently told the sangha that the collection will continue year-round; anyone can donate food or hygiene products at any time during the upcoming Sunday zazen sittings. The need amidst the Essex County community for food and hygiene support does not diminish after Thanksgiving, of course. In keeping with Buddha's teachings on compassion, we encourage our sangha to keep in mind this opportunity to help the less fortunate during the upcoming year-end holiday celebration, and on into the new year.

Take-home food items are distributed to needy families and individuals through the NCJW Center for Women in Livingston, and through the West Orange Food Pantry, which is located at the Holy Trinity Church, 315 Main Street, West Orange. This Pantry helps to feed between 300 and 500 people per month, and operates in conjunction with Christine's Kitchen, a hot meal program.

Sangha members wishing to support this initiative can bring food items to be collected at our zendo. We welcome dry packaged or canned food items that are non-perishable, unopened and unexpired. Supermarket gift cards are also welcomed. Some examples of appropriate food items include: canned soups, pasta, meat, fruit and vegetables; coffee and tea; peanut butter and jelly; catsup and mayonnaise; canned pork and beans; pasta; bagged rice; canned tuna; bottled juice or juice boxes; cereal; napkins, tissue and toilet paper; baby food; diapers size 3, 4 or 5; toothpaste; and shampoo. we are only allowed to accept unopened, unexpired food items, for health reasons. In addition, the West Orange Food Pantry has requested holiday foods including canned yams, cranberry sauce, canned turkey gravy, and stuffing mix.

Clear Mountain is also supporting the NCJW/Essex Period.Project, which provides advocacy and awareness regarding the barriers that many women face in obtaining feminine hygiene products. Women can spend $75-$125 each year on feminine hygiene products, but lower-income women often have trouble given that neither food stamps nor health insurance can be used to help pay for these items. Therefore, women report missing work and school due to their lack of access to them.

In order to support NCJW/Essex's Period.Project, Clear Mountain Zendo is also be accepting donations of packaged feminine pads and tampons. You can usually purchase these at the same supermarket where you would pick up food items for our food drive. These will be distributed by NCJW in partnership with local community service agencies and through its Center for Women at 70 South Orange Avenue, Livingston, NJ.

WE WILL ACCEPT DONATIONS ON ANY SUNDAY, BUT WE ESPECIALLY ENCOURAGE DONATIONS ON THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH. WE ARE DESIGNATING THE THIRD SUNDAY AS "THREE JEWELS SUNDAY" TO CELEBRATE OUR CONNECTION, CARING AND OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. With more than 3,000 members, NCJW/Essex is the largest of nearly 100 regional sections around the country. Founded in 1912, our Essex section is a collaboration of executive committee members, board members, professional staff, dozens of committee chairs, and hundreds of active volunteers. We serve Essex County as well as the surrounding region, and all of our programs and services are non-sectarian.

Clear Mountain Zendo looks forward to continued partnership in social engagement with the NCJW/Essex.

For more information, please see:

ncjwessex.org

centerforwomennj.org NCJW

CLEAR MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER, Current Location

On January 15, 2017, after approximately 10 years at a storefront location on Lackawanna Plaza in Montclair, Clear Mountain Zendo moved to its present location, which is at 7 Oak Place in Montclair. We are 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 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). Map Oak Place Oak Place Aerial Oak Place Aerial Oak Place Entrance Oak Place Group


Iyengar Yoga at Oakside Cultural Center

Various members of our sangha have established practices in other traditions that are related to Zen, including yoga. One such member, Elizabeth Pagan, is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher who offers weekly classes at the Oakeside Cultural Center in Bloomfield, NJ. Iyengar emphasizes precise, careful body alignment, maximum spinal extension and balanced development of muscular flexibility, strength and stamina. Elizabeth's classes are held on Monday evenings between 7:30 and 8:45 pm. For more information and costs, please see the website announcement at oakeside.org/programs/. Elizabeth can also be contacted at lizpagan@verizon.net. For more on the Iyengar yoga tradition, see iyanus.org.


Thursday Evening ONE LOVE SANGHA, 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

In September of 2018, a new meditation group will begin using the Clear Mountain Zen Center, usually once a month, from 7:30 to 9 PM. From December 2018 on, the group will meet and sit on the third Thursday of each month. In September, the first meeting for the group will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. There won't be any meetings in October, but there will be two meetings in November: Thursday, Nov. 1 and Thursday, Nov. 15, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. Thereafter, meetings will be held on the third Thursday of the month, starting on December 20 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. There may be occasional changes to this schedule, please consult the ONE LOVE SANGHA Facebook page for further information.

One Love Sangha is a group created to be a refuge where people of color and comrades can come together in support and community of each other and find nourishment and inspiration in the teachings and practice of Buddhism. We come together monthly in a community effort to alleviate suffering by practicing and studying the dharma together as well as openly discuss our experiences living and navigating oppressive and biased social structures.

Below is a general flow for the meeting:
Welcome and Guided meditation
Group check in and review of community agreements
Mindful movement (optional)
Reading and discussion
Tea time & free talk

The One Love Sangha hopes to provide space for participants to engage in deep listening and to feel free to speak freely from their hearts about their experiences in utilizing Buddhist and mindfulness practices in their life. A suggested donation of $5 – $10 is greatly appreciated to help support rent for the space. Our sangha is freely offered in support of community and each other and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, feel free to visit:
www.facebook.com/groups/onelovesangha/
www.meetup.com/One-Love-Sangha/

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: onelovesangha@gmail.com


INTER PLAY CREATIVE EXPRESSION, SUNDAY OCT and SUNDAY SEPT 9, 2018 AT CLEAR MOUNTAIN ZENDO, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

InterPlay is an easy to learn embodied form of creative expression that incorporates movement, sound, music, stillness, storytelling, and mindfulness for exploration of our interconnectedness with all beings as well as our connectedness within and in our lives. It helps us to connect to our bodies and authentic voice as well as bring ease and awareness to our experience. It invites people to learn new things about themselves and others. It can include improvisational and experiential movement as well as mindful communication and sharing in any other number of ways and forms.

The event will be held at our Zendo at 7 Oak Place, Montclair NJ, on October 28 and Sept. 9, from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM. All are welcome. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Lissa, our facilitator extraordinaire, who has a lifetime experience of play, a decade of experience in offering and exploring mindful and experiential movement and meditation practices as well as a strong background in mental health care and offering trauma and culturally-sensitive approaches. Lissa also leads the One Love Sangha, which also meets occasionally at Clear Mountain Zendo.

Suggested Donation: $10. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For more information, please visit embodiedheartmind.com or email embodiedheartmind [at] gmail.com


Friday Morning Meditation Group, 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM

The SpiritDoodle meditation group meets 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.

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: chantel@spiritdoodle.com or call 973-400-9151. Also see spiritdoodle.com.


Tuesday Evening Wing Chun Training, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

The North Jersey Wing Chun Training School meets every Tuesday evening from 7 to 9PM at Clear Mountain Zendo. This training, in the Kung Fu tradition, is led by Mike. It consists of guided body movement training along with skill and strength exercises, all integrated with meditation and self-reflection. There is a weekly fee for participation. 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 302-364-6855. Also see www.northjerseywingchun.com.


Sensei Carl's Note Regarding "The Meaning of Life"

Sensei Carl Bachmann 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.


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 contact@clearmountainzen.org. Please let us know in the e-mail how and when to contact you for further discussion.
 

Practice Circle for Spring, 2018

Our practice study circle recently discussed various chapters from the book "Buddha's Daughters" concerning the writings of modern women teachers. We continue to examine various writings and teachings by women teachers in modern Buddhist literature.

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.
 

Script for Mountain and Clarity

Clear Mountain Zen Center
7 Oak Place
Montclair, NJ 07042
 

PLEASE NOTE: Donations to
Clear Mountain Zendo
are NOT tax-deductible.