More than 50 meditation group members and town residents came together to unofficially celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Secaucus Meditation Garden last month.
Members of “Let’s Meditate Secaucus,” the local Art of Living Foundation, and citizens who just happen to hear about the event gathered during the free 8 a.m. weekly Mind & Meditation Session at the Sadhu Vaswani Meditation Garden, behind the Recreation Center on Koelle Boulevard.
“I don’t know of any town with a facility such as this.” – Vikas Chawla
Trying to beat stress
“I’m here because I want to practice meditation,” said Preeti Choudhery of Secaucus. “With working, there’s a lot of stress. I’m trying to learn to handle stress, and I hear meditation helps the stress level.”
Choudhery, a software engineer in New York, works 10-hour days Monday through Friday each week, and it takes its toll.
“You have a lot of responsibility, and [then there’s] the kids,” said Choudhery, referring to her 5-year-old daughter. “I want to train [her] to do something like this. It’s good to teach children to manage.”
Yoga good for mind and body
The group on hand meditated, but then went a step further, practicing yoga. They were led by yoga instructor Ramesh Prathap and Ritu Dey, an instructor and foundation member for Art of Living, an international, non-profit, educational organization.
“The key to yoga is listening to your body,” Dey said. “And everybody’s body is different. It takes 72 to 75 muscles to frown – and yet, we frown all the time.” Smiling, which takes many fewer muscles to accomplish, should be the goal.
“Shake off everything the world throws at you,” she said, “all the garbage, all the dirt.”
Meditation opposite of our goals
Vikas Chawla, an Art of Meditation instructor and director of its meditation programs in the United States, was a guest speaker at the event.
Chawla talked at length about how those in the U.S. pride ourselves on multi-tasking, doing more in less time, and trying to be even more productive.
“But meditation is about doing nothing,” he said. “It’s the art of doing nothing, so we can recharge our batteries.”
The one course no one is taught
He said that even with as much schooling as many in the country receive, how to handle life well is one course that is not on educational rosters.
“How much has school taught us how to manage our mind and emotions,” Chawla asked. “This is something we’ve not been taught. When you’re aware your mind has drifted, effortlessly bring it back.”
A worthwhile event
Those attending said the event was a wise use of their time.
“I do meditation and yoga,” said Sibel Bozkurt of Second Street in Secaucus. “I just wanted to experience this.” An employee at a logistics company in New York, she feels a lot of stress, “almost every day.”
Meryl Haslach of Harmon Cove, also a New York commuter and also a highly stressed professional, said she practices yoga twice a week to decompress. But she has other strategies too.
“Being still. Being aware. Focusing on the broader (picture) is very important,” she said. “I think it’s as beneficial as yoga; even just a lowered level of intensity.”
Honor for the mayor
Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who was instrumental in bringing the Meditation Garden to Secaucus, was thanked for his support, and awarded a plaque.
“We are very fortunate to be residents of Secaucus,” said Chawla. “I don’t know of any town with a facility such as this.”
The group handed out copies of The Art of Living’s “25 Ways to Improve Your Life” book and CD by H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.