Retreat This Weekend: Finding Calm By The Shore

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 Racing towards stillness? That might seem like a Rockaway contradiction in terms. But for a peninsula of people who live between the equal pull of the big city and calm ocean, the expanding Buddhist Insights may offer some, well, insights.

A stress-free sample can be experienced at the mini meditation retreat they are offering on Sunday, October 9. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Rockaway Artists Alliance T-7 Gallery at Fort Tilden.

How much does it cost?

“There is no fee to attend the retreat,” organizer Giovanna Maselli told the Rockaway Times. “People can sign-up on buddhistinsights.eventbrite.com. (But) the retreat is offered by donation, with no ‘minimum donation’ or ‘recommended donation’.

“Buddhist Insights is an organization connecting Buddhist monks and nuns with people in New York. I co-founded the non-profit in January 2016 in Rockaway Beach along with Bhante Suddhaso.” The well-spoken Suddhaso is an American monk who recently moved to New York City after a decade of living in forest ministries.

He also recently led a guided meditation session at Tribute Park as part of the day-long remembrance of 9/11. One participant described it as “surprisingly incredibly calming!”

However you don’t have to be a monk to benefit from the programs, meditations and teaching sessions they are now promoting both in Rockaway and throughout the city. “You don’t have to be Buddhist to practice Buddhist meditation. Buddhist meditation is a non-doctrinal practice of mental self-investigation and self-development,” according to Maselli.

About Sunday’s retreat she says with events like this a “teacher, always a Buddhist monk or nun, leads the group in several sessions of guided meditation, ranging in length from 30-60 minutes each. Usually it is alternating periods of sitting meditation and walking meditation.

“There are also lectures given by the teacher, usually from 20-45 minutes long, immediately followed by Q&A and group discussion of the topic. Topics are related to the contemplative practices of Buddhist meditation. There are also two or three breaks during the day, for lunch and for afternoon tea.”

 And once the meditative participants, who come from all walks of life, leave the quiet of the gallery and step back into the louder world?

This is not a ‘feel good for the day’ experience. As Maselli explains “Meditation practice, informed by a solid intellectual understanding of the theory behind it, allows people to deeply examine the nature of their own mind. With understanding of their own mind, they are able to identify the ways that they cause themselves discomfort, displeasure, and discontent. When it is understood that all of one’s dissatisfaction is self-afflicted, it then becomes clear that it is possible to change the cycle - eliminating all of one’s mental discomfort and establishing a baseline of unconditional happiness.”

Maselli and company would also like to make that path to well-being open to even more people. Buddhist Insights has started an online fundraising campaign to secure a site and open a meditation retreat center right here in Rockaway. 

Up until now they have relied on the generosity New York City residents to accommodate visiting monks and nuns in their homes. They have been renting out spaces from other organizations to provide retreats. As their fundraising page notes “We have offered free meditation classes, retreats, cultural events, and mentorship programs led by Buddhist monastics… everywhere from yoga studios to museums, all the way to the streets and the subways of the city.”

“Currently we are looking to acquire our own location where we can both host visiting monastics and also provide regular daylong and weekend retreats.” For more information check out the fundraising site youcaring.com/buddhistinsights and also buddhistinsights.com.

In the meantime you can check out Buddhist Insights’ retreat Sunday retreat at RAA at fort Tilden.

It might just be that calm space you’ve been looking for between the city and the shore.

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