Full Moon Sacred Sound & Healing Tea

Book Early & Save

Brother/sister duo Lily & Max Raphael are offering this special gathering for the THIRD time.

Share a sacred space with others for a tea ceremony led by Lily Raphael, while her brother Max takes you on an inward journey with Tibetan singing bowls, gongs and more. This is an opportunity to experience both sacred tea and sound healing in new ways. Allow the vibrations to bring relaxation and harmony to every cell in your body, as you become steeped in the gentle energies of a clean, aged tea. May each silent bowl of tea—and singing bowl of sound!—settle you deeply in yourself, as we awaken to the specialness of this one unrepeatable moment together.

$20 / person at the door,
or $15 early booking online. (See ticket link above)
Cash, check, or card are accepted.
Space is limited to 15 guests.

Contact: Max Raphael at 513-570-9381 or send an e-mail

We advise you arrive around 7:15pm to give yourself time to settle in before the event begins.

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The weight on my shoulders

The first week free of work would be my last week at home. The days where I could flitter about like a bat, taking care of whatever I could at any moment, have drawn to a close.

With several hours left before my flight and a bag yet to be packed, I have to make definitive choices about my time, and what to bring along with me to San Diego.
This is less than easy for me. I challenge myself to resist getting impulsive, drastically jettisoning important things in an anxious effort to lighten my load. Also challenged is my desire to make the ‘right’ decision, to act appropriately. The zen quote comes to mind now: “if you’ll sit, then sit; if you’ll stand, then stand. But never wobble.” Midway through, having repacked for the third time, my moral is nearly gone. Past midnight, I am an exhausted wobbling.

In the midst of it, I get words of encouragement from my loved ones. I take them in with a bowl of Matcha, and get to work with a new vigor.

As I tie up my last loose ends, I take some time to finally peer into the book made for me to commemorate my career at MRC. It’s one of the most magnificent and potent doses of thoughtfulness I have ever received. Note after note of well wishes from so many people that mean much to me; a stream of reminders that I am connected with others, that we affect each other, and that love is the ultimate vehicle of meaningful change within. Put another way that sounds even less wishy washy, the impediments to love within oneself are one’s very work in this life. Everything else is peripheral in the grandest scheme. After this moment of gratitude, I am able to set aside what cyclically doesn’t serve me, and take care of my goal.

The nature of this recharge of my spirit compelled me to share a practice of mine I adapted from a monk’s advice during a retreat last year:
At the end of the day, reflect on 3 signs of greatness in other people that you noticed today; reflect then on 3 ways you have been helped by others; then, reflect on 3 signs of greatness in yourself.

I’m filled with gratitude and bewilderment as I head off to the first leg of my trip, a meditation retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh and nearly a thousand others at deer park monastery in Escondido, California.

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Max’s Article In Mindful Youth’s Website

Check out my article posted in MindfulYouth.org, a non-profit where I have been co-facilitating meditation activities with at-risk youth and kids in Cincinnati, OH. This article talks in particular about my experiences doing sessions with incarcerated youth at Cincinnati’s Juvenile Detention Center, where I have learned a lot.
Click Here for the link to the article on the site!
Text of article is also below. Thanks for checking it out :)

Finding Freedom Within

In many ways, you could say that the topics and values of Mindful Youth are most relevant in Cincinnati’s juvenile detention center. It’s known formally as The Hamilton County Juvenile Court Youth Center, but more often it is called “2020,” after its street number on Auburn Avenue. It is a destination for Mindful Youth every Friday afternoon, which conducts a voluntary group that includes mindfulness meditation, discussions and games.

It’s through assisting with this workshop that I first became involved with Mindful Youth, in August, 2012. I have helped facilitate the group since then, and have gotten to see just how important the practices of mindfulness can be, through conversing and learning with dozens of teens incarcerated there. Many of the youth we see are living through some of their most turbulent times, juggling issues and emotions that carry great hardship, disorder, and uncertainty. The topics we discuss, of managing stress, identifying emotions such as anger, and bringing one’s mind into the present and out of the past or future, all have a heightened relevancy within the confines of 2020.

For those of us not incarcerated, and perhaps especially those of us who never have been, we might tend to regard those in jail as “getting what they deserve.” It can be easy to think in terms of “I told you so” when witnessing the cycle of many individuals who continually end up in 2020, from their pre-teen years all the way through their young adulthood. However, the nonjudgmental approach that we maintain at Mindful Youth proves to be all the more illuminating in a setting such as this. Engaging the youth in a manner that is human-to-human, we see the annals of human suffering we all share—yet under a magnifying glass, emphasized by the context of their present circumstances. When we can look past their charges, we see teenagers with minds tested to their limits, often coerced from a place of reason and cornered into survival mode. Here, the work of Mindful Youth would seem all too essential, as we aim to bring an alternative to impulse, and show a way to accept oneself. To do this, we use mindfulness of breath, thoughts, and body, to “tune into” ourselves. In slowing down their minds, teens might find more choice in how they respond to their lives, and less impulse to react to different situations and people.

In many ways, the topics that come up in our groups at 2020 are shared by all of humanity—only they are highlighted quite well by their immediacy.

One such topic came up during our first session in 2013, after coming out of a body scan meditation. The exercise was explained as a way to “slow your mind down to a place of acceptance, and find freedom within yourself.” Without hesitation, one of the youth looked at me and said, very plainly, “freedom is where y’all are going to, once our group is done, while we’ll still be locked up in here.”

We acknowledged his sentiment, which was certainly shared by the other seven young men in the group. A few others then asserted that their clothes, environment, and meals were constant reminders of where they were. “How could we possibly feel free?”, they would ask. We expressed that we respected their experiences, and that our aim is not to disprove them, only to offer a way to embrace them with less judgment. A couple of youth nodded their heads, while the first teen gazed our way earnestly, without blinking.

I felt this exchange at first to be satisfactory, that we had reached a point of mutual understanding with the teens. But this short dialog would replay in my mind throughout the following week. Just how do you convince someone incarcerated that they are free? In my mind, I know it is possible. I have witnessed it during our groups on numerous occasions, such as right after playing a mindful walking game with the youth, when multiple teens blurted out “I completely forgot about my court date just now.” Another day, following a 15-minute body scan meditation; a participant said with amazement, “you helped me find peace in 2020.”

Still, this young man’s earnest look stayed in my memory. I thought of his peers that day, who lamented about not being at home, not being free, not being able to make choices for themselves. I thought of the lives they would indeed return to when they would finally be released. How stable were these lives? Are they not also replete with struggle, rules, and unpleasant circumstances?

My mind then turned to the lucid writings of writer, poet, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. To the apparent dreariness and barrenness of winter, he shares his own truth:

In April we cannot see sunflowers in France,
so we say the sunflowers do not exist.

But the local farmers have already planted
thousands of seeds, and when they look
at the bare hills they may be able to see the sunflowers already.

The sunflowers are there.

They lack only the conditions of sun, heat, rain, and July.

Just because we cannot see them
does not mean they do not exist.

Just as the seeds of hope and peace can exist latent within us, so can seeds of conflict and recklessness. For some of the youth, I would assert that if they look more deeply, the seeds of incarceration were, in some ways, perhaps already present even before they were ever taken into jail; it could be the renouncement of freedom amidst peer pressure; yielding to the impulse to make an easy buck or two; the resignation that “I’m already ‘bad’ … what difference would it make?”
Surely, in small, cumulative ways, some of these youth had experienced that same lack of freedom before ever arriving in jail. Without the sort of insight awareness that mindfulness brings, one may not see just what seeds are being watered by certain habits and choices.

My reflection on this issue then came full circle: we all at times might be reinforcing our own sense of imprisonment, however lightly than those actually serving time in jail. Even in small, seemingly harmless ways, we might be watering unhelpful seeds within ourselves.

The techniques of mindfulness we explore are not just for those with a record; they’re relevant for each of us; to help us find ourselves where we are, so that we might be the kind of people we want to be—more often. The approach of Mindful Youth, as “humans talking with humans,” shows me just how practical and unique the approach of mindfulness is as a way of engaging ourselves. By looking deeply, we can see the humanity we all share, and how the struggles of the incarcerated youth we visit are those we all face at one time. How do our actions and thoughts make us feel less free at times, and how can we refresh our outlook to find that internal sense of freedom, equanimity, and peace? Even for those serving time, that refreshment may be just one breath away.

How To Be Alone

How to meditate is how to be alone. Alone, though, really means with yourself. Sometimes we’re alone, yet we try to avoid even our own self, distract our attention from what’s going on inside. That might be why we rarely find time for something like meditation. But if you try and try again, retry and recommit after stopping, you might become more comfortable with what’s already inside. You might feel company when you’re alone (being with yourself). Let’s practice.

Serenity Now?

Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode “Serenity Now!” skits? Jerry’s dad and Kramer are both convinced that reciting these words brings peace of mind. In reality it serves simply as a mantra shouted amidst times of overpowering anger; dad stammering around during a shouting match with his wife … Kramer smashing appliances in rage when Jerry accidentally steps on a rose in the hallway.

What is Inner Peace?

At Peace Revolution, meditation practice is also dubbed “Inner Peace Time“, hence the inspiration for the name of this website. Just like the topic of meditation, interpreting the meaning of Inner Peace can be tricky. And, just like meditation, I believe the truth of it is surely more experiential than intellectual.

But still, knowing that much, it is easy to “expect” inner peace from our Inner Peace Time. If we don’t immediately see peacefulness, our experience can spiral into one of pervasive toil. We change positions constantly, we fixate on the meditation session itself, how it’s not working, or

“I’m not good at this, WHY am I not peaceful yet? WHY can’t I be calm? There’s nothing for me to be anxious about? My mind won’t sit still!”

However, how we deal with these aspects once we become aware of them is THE practice.

Ultimately, you could say that Inner Peace comes from the freedom of knowing we have a choice. The word PEACE makes us sometimes think of the state of things as they are. But then what if it’s raining or overcast in our mind?

Meditation can show us a new way of experiencing our mind—or show us, to begin with, that we are indeed always experiencing our mind.

Lately, for this reason, I like to think of Inner Peace more as Inner Connection. Meditation is a practice of seeing ourselves, not in any particular way, not in any holy way, and hopefully not with any expectation. Just seeing ourselves, as we currently are. The mind absolutely does not want to believe that this is all that’s necessary to meditate. It will secretively cling to a sense of happiness, and push away discomfort, negative thoughts, feelings, and distractions.

Have you ever noticed that “pushing” distractions away and “reaching” for peace of mind does not necessarily work? I have.

And … Doesn’t sound similar to “SERENITY NOW!”?

This strain and sense of discomfort, I find, are exactly my things to work on. There is a sense of friction caused by expectations grinding against actual experience—and if that friction is held in awareness, we can use it to see just how our mind look at this moment. Not in a way where we measure and analyze it, but in a observant way … where even in the midst of discomfort and mental strain, we can put our hand to our chin and say …

“hm. mhm? … mHM … hmm.”

Instead of shaping our experience, meditation can be an exercise in simply accessing our capability to perceive.

It just so happens that fine-tuning this neutrality and acute self-awareness naturally births acceptance of experience.

And this in turn births Self-Acceptance.

And it so happens that Self-Acceptance brings Inner Peace.

And Inner Peace already means Outer Peace.

The act of trying to experience any particular thing during or after meditation usually ends up in a similar frustration to Cosmo Kramer’s. Nevertheless, no matter what, while meditating, we are learning about how our mind looks.

Because happy and hatred, comfort and pain, are all held in the same mind.

Thankfully, meditation is an exercise that simply works poorly when there is negativity abound. And, more telling, the experience does not teach us that we should distinguish the negativity—this doesn’t seem to work, either. Instead, meditation can even show us how to deal with our negativity. Perhaps this ability is actually what leads to more positivity.

If we continually meditate, this sense of detached acceptance and awareness may pour into all experiences, not always in ways we can perceive. The very act of sitting down, the willingness to do so, can refine our being.

Can you try this willingness?

Recap: Special Gathering 5/11/12

Thank you, everyone, for coming to meditate and relax for this special gathering.
It was nice to see ten people making it here to sit, be tranquil, and social, over stillness and tea for the first time together.
I hope you come again, and for those that didn’t make it, there will be more chances—check the Schedule, join the Facebook Page, and, if you’d like to join the monthly e-mail list, write me here.
Until next time!
—iptea