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Queens Chronicle

Find your chi in the middle of Astoria

Teachers bring mindfulness retreat to Queens to help manage stress

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:25 pm, Thu Apr 3, 2014.

After a long day at work, there are many ways to seek a relaxing activity. It might seem easy to just loosen the belt and turn on Netflix, but instead one of the most popular activities people are choosing to partake in is meditation. Meditation allows a participant to relax and sneak in some light physical activity.

For those in the borough who are looking for a relaxed mind and body, two practitioners of mindfulness-based meditation will be bringing their expertise to the First Presbyterian Church in Astoria.

Teachers Jordan Ciambrone and Emily Herzlin will be leading a retreat and guiding the students. The two met on a week-long silent meditation retreat. They both shared a passion for mindfulness meditation and teaching.

At the retreat they will give instructions in several forms of mindfulness meditation. There will also be walking meditation, periods of silent practice and the opportunity to ask questions.

Mindfulness meditation has roots in Buddhism and was popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Zinn, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, created a program called mindfulness-based stress reduction, which aims to help people cope with stress through the concept of mindful meditation.

Ciambrone said that meditation offers many benefits including being “a stress management tool” that can help you “manage mental, emotional and physical stress.”

“This is something society is yearning for. It’s a good time to be a part of the movement,” she said. A former gymnast for 20 years, she got into mindful meditation as she wanted to understand “how the mind sat on top of the body.” She also has been practicing yoga for 15 years and teaching 10 of those years.

She suffered some back injuries and one of the avenues that helped her with her pain and keeping active was meditation. “It was a great way to still keep moving but in a much gentler way,” she said.

Herzlin, who lives in Astoria, started meditating in high school after being introduced to it by her art teacher. She said she was going through a lot of personal stuff in her life at the time including her parents’ divorce and dealing with stress.

“It helped me to find some calm in all of this turmoil,” she said.

She is also involved in creative writing and has taught meditation at Mission to (dit)Mars, The Astoria Bookshop and Art House Astoria.

“I hope they feel curious about their minds. I hope they feel curious about the world around them. That they want to learn more about their experience in the world.”

In the fast-paced world we live in now with instant gratification, Ciambrone said meditation will give people time with themselves and help them find out what’s going on inside.

“It gives us an opportunity to pay attention to what is actually going on in our life. How often do we sit down and really pay attention to ourselves and what’s going on on the inside of our minds and our bodies?” she said.

The retreat is on Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Astoria First Presbyterian Church, located at 23-25 Broadway in Astoria.

The program is $45 and is open to all levels, whether it’s your first time or you are an advanced guru.

Pre-registration is required; sign up by emailing mindfulastoria@gmail.com.

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