2016-02-19 / Community

Meditation In Rockaway

By Dan Guarino

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Summer Photo courtesy of Rockaway Summer Rockaway Summer and Buddhist Insights are collaborating with Dr. Nancy Gahles to present a special event on Sunday, Feb. 21.

A “Loving Kindness Meditation and Dhamma Talk with Bhante Suddhaso” will take place at Dr. Gahle’s Health & Harmony Wellness Center, at 241 Beach 73rd St. in Belle Harbor starting at 11 a.m.

The event is open to the public and all are welcome. Those interested can RSVP to rockawaysummer@gmail.com or nancygahles@gmail.com.

Teachings are offered free of charge. Any donation, or ‘dana,’ is welcome.

The event itself represents a widening of the circle of regular sessions Buddhist Insights has been introducing every week at Yoga On The Rocks at 90-16 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

A varied mix of people have been coming each Saturday to listen, learn, meditate and hopefully come away with some different perspectives. The classes, also given free of charge, have become so popular that a second afternoon session was added.

Rockaway Summer and Buddhist Insights are presenting a special free program at the Dr. Nancy Gahles’ Health & Harmony Wellness Center this weekend. Bhante Suddhaso will lead the program. 
Photo by Chinora Mack Rockaway Summer and Buddhist Insights are presenting a special free program at the Dr. Nancy Gahles’ Health & Harmony Wellness Center this weekend. Bhante Suddhaso will lead the program. Photo by Chinora Mack “I really didn’t know what to expect,” said one recent participant. “It wasn’t anything I knew a whole lot about. But I decided to go and see what it was about. It gave me a few things to think about.”

Buddhist Insights itself is the brainchild of Bhante Suddhaso and Giovanna Maselli.

Maselli is the founder of Rockaway Summer, and has been involved in a number of community endeavors, including the Rock Soup crowdfunding project.

Bhante, an American, was ordained as a Theravada monk, has traveled, lived at Sri-Lankan monasteries, and taught at such places as Harvard University, University of Mary Washington and Suffolk Community College.

The Buddhist Insight website explains, “Monks and nuns from various Buddhist traditions are invited to come to urban centers to offer the gift of Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) for short periods of time.” This allows monastics to connect with lay people in a new and different ways.

Knowing that many people may not be too familiar with Buddhist teachings or meditation, Bhante and Maselli were happy to answer some of The Wave’s questions.

Dan Guarino: For those who have never been to a meditation class, what are the sessions like?

Bhante Suddhaso: We sit together, silent and still, for half an hour, or an hour in the longer session. During the first few minutes, the teacher gives some instructions on how to meditate, usually focused on present-moment awareness of the body. After the meditation session, the teacher talks about meditation practice and related subjects, usually for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Finally, there is a period of open discussion during which people can ask the teacher questions, which also lasts about 30 minutes.

DG: You have the upcoming event on Sunday in Belle Harbor. What about the regular sessions at Yoga On The Rocks?

Maselli: These sessions occur every Saturday, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. The sessions are identical, except that the 5 p.m. meditation lasts 60 minutes instead of 30.

DG: What is the event at the Health and Harmony Wellness Center about?

Suddhaso: One of the meditation techniques in Theravada Buddhism is developing a mindset of universal, unconditional love and compassion toward all living beings. This is called metta ("Loving-Kindness") meditation. This is a subject that I occasionally teach, and that will be the main theme of the Belle Harbor event.

DG: What is the benefit of meditation for everyday people?

Suddhaso: Meditation offers many benefits. Over time, it reduces and eventually eliminates anxiety, depression, and irritability. It fosters the development of contentment, joy, and clarity of mind. It leads to greater alertness and awareness of everything going on around us, as well as everything going on inside us. We become increasingly resistant to physical and emotional pain. We become happier, kinder, gentler people.

DG: How can people find out more about this and also about upcoming sessions?

Maselli: For more information, they can send email to buddhistinsightsnyc@gmail.com or rockawaysummer@gmail.com. They can also find updates on the Facebook page "Buddhist Insights" or the Instagram account @buddhistinsights; or directly from Bhante Suddh so on Facebook (Suddhaso Bhikkhu) or Instagram (@bhantesuddhaso).

DG: Is there anything else people should know?

Maselli: Oh, I forgot to mention that all classes are free and that this program is run and supported entirely by donations!

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