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Events

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For general information, see ECMS page. This is a chronological list of events from April 3, 2014 to March 17, 2016. Hop to 2015. Jump to 2016. Leap to latest at the end. See also previous events.

April 3, 2014 "Unitarian Universalism" Debs topic

Rod Debs, who is pastor of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Valparaiso, and his wife, Jeannette, will speak at the April 3 meeting. Their topic will be "A Free Nation, a Free Faith: Unitarian Universalism."

Rod Debs was born in Grinnell, Iowa, and lived in various places in Ohio where his father was an Evangelical Friends minister. He earned an M.A. in philosophy from Kent State University. After 10 years of factory work, he attended Boston University School of Theology where he earned his master of divinity degree and ordination to Unitarian Universalist ministry. He has served UU congregations in Texas, Iowa and Florida for 24 years.

Rev. Debs is active with the Continuum of Care for the homeless, the non-partisan League of Women Voters, and the Niceville Garden Club--and raises rabbits.

Jeannette Debs was born and grew up in Troy, N.Y. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland and a B.A. degree in mathematics from the State University College in Potsdam, N.Y.

Since 2008 she has worked for the Judge Ben Gordon Jr. Family Visitation Center in Shalimar, where, since 2011, she has been volunteer coordinator and visit monitor. From 2003 to 2007 she worked at the Okaloosa-Walton Shelter House in Ft. Walton Beach, her last two years as executive director. In Iowa she directed a domestic violence prevention agency and worked in agencies serving women and children in Texas and Massachusetts since 1989.

She and Rod met at the UU church in Binghamton, N.Y. They moved to this area in 2003, when Rod was asked to be the first full-time minister of UUFEC. Their only child, Katrina, lives in Colorado as an organic farmer.

April 17, 2014 Gaffrey to address ECMS on ‘A Dropout Talks About Mindfulness, Experience and Poetry’ and April 22 Sunrise Meditation

Justin Gaffrey, a meditator and well-known local artist, will speak at the April 17 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. His topic will be “A Dropout Talks About Mindfulness, Experience and Poetry.”

The location will be a change from the usual meeting place. The group will meet at the John A. Horton Senior Center at 194 Co. Rd. 393 N., just a block or so north of Hwy. 98. The meeting will start with a 30-minute meditation at 6:30 p.m. The ECMS follows no religion and does not charge.

Originally from New Jersey, Gaffrey moved to this area in 1980 when his father worked for the railroad out of New Orleans. He says he did not attend school after the ninth grade. Wishing to be a chef, he worked his way up to owning his own restaurant, but when he was 30, realized that this was “not a life worth living.”
He sold his business and became an artist. “Through my art I have discovered a lot of meaning in life,” Gaffrey says. Divorced, he has two children. His son, 20, attends Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, studying Buddhism and psychology. His daughter, 15, lives with Gaffrey. “We plan to start traveling the world together this fall,” says Gaffrey.
Other interests, says Gaffrey, are “studying and practicing the dharma, meditating and going to Buddhist retreats, traveling, finding beauty and meaning in life, plus surfing, swimming, hiking and running.” He is also interested in “helping my children realize their true nature, as well as myself.”

Also, an April sunrise meditation has been scheduled for an exciting time: the full moon will have a total eclipse the night of April 14-15! We will meet and meditate from 6-6:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 15. The location will be a small park where Eden Park Drive meets the Bay. (This street has nothing to do with Eden State Gardens.) You get to Eden Park Dr. via Chat Holley, which is the first road south of the Hwy. 331 bridge. If you take Hwy. 331, turn onto Chat Holley and in a mile or two, go past Thomas Hicks Landscaping. The next street to the north is Eden Park Dr. Turn toward the Bay and just before you drive into the Bay is a little park, perfect for viewing the sunrise. Let us hope for a clear morning. Caroling and I hope to see a few fellow sunrise-watchers. Bring something to sit on.

May 1, 2014 Merwin to address ECMS on ‘Caterpillar Mush to Butterfly’

Deborah Merwin, co-owner of Feelin’ Good Health Food Store in Destin and holistic health counselor, will speak at the May 1 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. Her topic will be "From Caterpillar Mush to Butterfly"

Says Merwin, “The human experience is a journey through multiple realities that can bring both understanding and confusion to the seeker of personal truth. What St. John of the Cross called 'the dark night of the soul' is often a transformational phase that can literally destroy every significant core belief that was used to establish the foundation of an individual's life.

“Those of us who survive the madness and chaos of such a painful destruction of self-identity will eventually reinvent ourselves so that we are able to embrace our lives anew.” Merwin will share her own recent experience of slowly breaking through the chrysalis of old perceptions of self, and then will open the group to discussion.

For the past 27 years Merwin has had multiple public identities including: Isian priestess, inter-faith minister, co-owner of Feelin' Good, spiritual health coach, quantum biofeedback specialist, and the facilitator of a women's prayer circle. Now her question is, who or what will she be next?

In the past, Merwin has addressed the ECMS on the topics of “Spiritual Food for Thought,” “The Mystery of the Labyrinth: Using Ancient Myth for Soul Searching and Self Discovery” and "The Sacred Serpent and Her 7 Gates to Enlightenment."

May 14, 2014 Sunrise meditation at time of full moon

Sunrise meditation from 5:30-6:00 a.m. at the little park where Eden Park Drive meets the Bay. Get to Eden Park Drive by taking Chat Holley west from Hwy. 331 or east from Hwy. 393. Turn north and just before you drive into the Bay is North Eden Park. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early and be all settled by 5:30 a.m.

May 15, 2014 Thomas to address ECMS on “A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace”

Claude AnShin Thomas, a Zen Buddhist monk, Vietnam War veteran, author and international advocate for nonviolence, will speak at the May 15 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. His topic will be “A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace.”

The meeting will start with a 30-minute meditation at 6:30 p.m. at Christ the King Episcopal Church, 480 N. Co. Hwy. 393, Santa Rosa Beach, half a mile north of Hwy. 98. The ECMS follows no religion and does not charge.

Born in Pennsylvania, Thomas served in Vietnam in 1966-67 at age 18. Part of a helicopter crew, he was shot down five times and wounded once, receiving the Purple Heart, among other medals. He was honorably discharged from the army in 1968.

Since that time, he has worked to heal the wounds from that war for himself and others, and “to address the plight of many of my fellow veterans who were being socially ostracized--suffering homelessness, drug addiction, unemployability, social isolation, and abnormally high rates of suicide, divorce, and imprisonment.” 

In 1991 he came in contact with the Vietnamese Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. It was through Buddhist practice that he became aware of the devastating and lasting effects of war and violence, and how to make peace with this unpeacefulness. 

In 1995 he was fully ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition by the American Zen Master Bernard Glassman. In 1994 he founded the Zaltho Foundation, a nonprofit organization to foster nonviolence and change. In 1999 he started the Magnolia Zen Center in Mary Esther. Thomas is a mendicant monk by vow.

In 2004 his book, “At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace,” was published by Shambhala Publications. Today he leads programs worldwide on meditation, healing, and transformation, dividing his time among the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia in working to bring an end to the repetitive cycles of suffering and violence.

June 5, 2014 Mary Jo McCabe to speak at ECMS on ‘Psychic Awareness’

Mary Jo McCabe, an acclaimed symbolic interpreter, visionary, teacher and author of many books, will speak at the June 5 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. She will discuss “Psychic Awareness: You Get Nothing More Than What You Believe.”

McCabe says she will talk about getting your own answers to your questions. She points out that whether your questions involve money, career, relationships, or something else, you can change your life by changing what you believe.

A highly respected and sought-after “soul intuitive,” McCabe says she receives her messages from a group of souls she refers to as "The Guides." Since 1981, she has devoted herself to sharing her gift with individuals looking for greater personal and spiritual understanding and clarity to life's many challenges.

McCabe is dedicated to empowering individuals to listen to their inner voice, connect to their intuition, and transform their lives by bridging the gap between their spiritual and physical worlds. This helps people gain a greater understanding of life’s challenges.

Psychic Medium John Edward recommends McCabe as an intuitive in his book, “One Last Time.” "Mary Jo's true gift is the dedication, responsibility, commitment, and integrity she brings to her work and her clients," he says.

Two of McCabe’s most recent books are “The Loneliest Walk: Managing the Pain of Grief,” 2009; and “Transforming Life into Living: A Workbook for Taking Control of Your Life,” 2008.

McCabe, who grew up in the small town of Erin, Tennessee, now lives in Niceville near her son, Dr. Bhrett McCabe, his wife Melissa, and their two children. She and Jim, her husband of 40 years who died in 2011, traveled the world with the U.S. Air Force.

June 19, 2014 ‘Healing Our Connection to the Earth’ topic of S. Schindele

Sarah Schindele, grant manager with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, will speak at the June 19 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. She will talk on “Healing Our Connection to the Earth,” discussing the spiritual connection between humans and the earth. This will be the final ECMS meeting of the summer. The next will be held Sept. 4.

Schindele’s doctoral thesis focused on the spiritual connection between humans and the Earth. “I spoke with spiritual leaders throughout the greater Pensacola area,” she says, “who represented a cross-section of spiritual traditions. I interviewed them to learn about their perception of how humans relate to the earth in the context of their own spiritual tradition. I also asked about whether this topic felt current and relevant within their spiritual community.”

Since 2005 Schindele has been with the CBA, where she heads the volunteer water quality program within the Choctawhatchee watershed (bay, river and coastal dune lakes). She also coordinates a restoration program treating invasive plants in south Walton County and administers the CBA’s Eco-Adventure initiative. A Florida master naturalist, she is also involved in the development of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden & Trail at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College in collaboration with Walton County Master Gardeners.

Schindele holds a doctorate in education from the University of West Florida plus a master’s degree in environmental conservation education from New York University.

As an Air Force child, Schindele has lived in many states including Hawaii, as well as Japan. She graduated from high school in Hawaii. She has lived in this area for 10 years.

September 4, 2014 “Slouching Toward Buddhism” topic of Mary Konovsky

“Slouching Toward Buddhism” is the title of a talk to be given on Sept. 4 by Dr. Mary Konovsky, executive director of the South Walton Community Council and a life coach. 

Konovsky will talk about her personal history, pointing out at what stages various Buddhist principles were "revealed" to her--although it wasn't until much later that she recognized them as part of Buddhism. She also will talk more about some of these principles, such as suffering, no-self, and various practices.

A native of Indiana, Konovsky earned degrees from Indiana University in biology and psychology before getting her M.B.A. and doctorate in business administration. As a professor at Tulane University, she received tenure in 1992 and served as the Colleen and George McCullough Professor of Business Ethics and the Senior Associate Dean of the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

Konovsky developed the Freeman School’s undergraduate, graduate and international programs, and was a founder of the school’s Latin American Ph.D. program for faculty at top business schools in Latin America. She has taught in the Executive MBA programs in Chile and Mexico as well She first visited the South Walton area in 1993, later built a house near the beach in Blue Mountain Beach, which she visited often, finally moving here in 2004. Active in community affairs, she served on the board of the South Walton Community Council, was executive director of the Scenic Corridor Association, and later of the Children’s Volunteer Health Network.

After a brief stint in Alabama she returned to the area to continue working with Greenwood/Asher and Associates, an executive search, consulting and training firm, in charge of leadership development, leaving there in 2013. She is now working to build her life coaching business. She and her husband live on the Bay in Santa Rosa Beach.

https://www.facebook.com/events/262026697254629/

September 18 2014 “MBSR: A Journey Inward” topic of Peter Snyder

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, was started by author Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1995 when he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts.

Snyder will talk about the origins of MBSR along with some of the research and documented life changes associated with mindfulness practice. He will also discuss current and future MBSR programs in this area.

Snyder recently completed his bachelor of social work degree from Florida State University and is starting on a master’s degree in social work this fall. Also in 2014, he completed teacher training in MBSR from the University of Massachusetts.

He currently runs a prison program in MBSR and this month will start an MBSR program for the public. He has trained in the Kwan Um school of Zen Buddhism since 2009 and this year will become a full dharma teacher. He also is a certified yoga teacher and has just started on his second 200-hour yoga teacher certification. He teaches yoga in Panama City to both the public and to people who have suffered traumatic brain injury.

Born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Snyder has moved around a lot. He first went to Panama City 12 years ago, then tried other parts of the South. He has lived in Panama City for the last five years.

October 2 2014 "How Meditation Can Reduce Stress” topic of Ralph Dougherty

"How Meditation Can Reduce Stress” is the title of a talk to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Oct. 2 by Ralph Dougherty of Tallahassee, a retired chemistry professor who now leads Buddhist groups.

“In meditation, we encounter ‘monkey mind,’ known in psychology as our secondary consciousness,” says Dougherty. “After some regular practice, we also encounter a profoundly silent awareness, known as our primary consciousness. We also see primary consciousness in our active sensing of the environment, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. These two types of awareness are more or less independent of each other.

“When there is a conflict between the views of the world held directly by our primary and secondary consciousness, we sense this conflict as stress.”

Dougherty adds that his talk will focus on “simple, understandable models of how our incredibly complex brains function, and how these functions during meditation result in stress reduction.”

The talk will include references to his lengthy period of alcohol addiction and how he finally understood and overcame it.

Dougherty was born high in the Rockies in Dillon, MT, and grew up in Montana, spending his high school summers working on his grandfather’s ranch. Thus the wilderness became one of his lifelong passions. He received his B.S. in chemistry at Montana State University in 1960 and his doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1963.

He came to Florida State University, from Ohio State, in 1969. Now retired, he occupies his time with writing in the areas of science and meditation, along with teaching meditation practice at five state prisons in north Florida. Cycling and paddling small boats are his preferred modes of exercise.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/682836121823664/

October 16 2014 "Peace Starts in Me" topic of Kabe Woods

"Peace Starts in Me" is the title of a talk to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Oct. 16 by Kabe Woods, facilitator of the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fort Walton Beach.

"The world around us seems to be in a constant state of stress, disharmony and, too often, violence,” says Woods. “Our senses are overloaded and we do not know where to start to help ‘make things better.’ So we will begin a discussion of the principle of ‘Peace Starts in Me’ by looking deeply into our own mental states, and seeing how transforming ourselves can transform the world around us."

A retired senior executive with past leadership roles at AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent and ADVO Inc., Kabe started his meditation practice in 1978. Since 1994 he has practiced in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from whom he received the Five Mindfulness Trainings in 2002.

In September 2013 he was ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh as a member of the Order of Interbeing and received the transmission of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. He is a member of the Magnolia Grove Mindfulness Practice Center & Monastery community in Batesville, Miss. Kabe is also a member of Unity Church in Ft. Walton Beach where he is a prayer chaplain trainer, teaching centering prayer and meditation.

The Mindfulness Practice Center of Fort Walton Beach was established in June 2013. After seven months of solitary practice at the center Kabe and his wife, Lyn, with guidance from Brother Michael of the Magnolia Grove Monastery, decided to open the center to the community. It is open for meditation practice six days a week.

Kabe also has recently begun facilitating mindfulness practice at the Destin Recovery Center for substance abuse. In addition, at times over the last four years he has performed the main service, meditations and instruction at Unity in Panama City and Unity in FWB.

Kabe and his wife have two children and one grandchild. They have lived in Ft. Walton Beach for 10 years after living in Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and Connecticut.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/327062360805855/

November 6 2014 "Some Simple Actions to Live Younger Longer” topic of Bill and Rene Cole

"Some Simple Actions to Live Younger Longer" is the title of a talk to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Nov. 6 by Bill and Rene Cole, owners of a Destin real estate company and an anti-aging company.

The Coles met at a spa in 1980 in Overland, Kansas, where Rene led the spa’s aerobic program in the evening, after teaching fulltime during the day, and Bill was asked to turn around a failing club. Within 90 days the spa became profitable. The two married three years later and worked together for five years in the spa business, while also starting their own weight management company and relocating to Indianapolis.

A few months after their daughter, Ashley, was born, they relocated again, this time to Sandestin Resort to pursue resort sales. Then in 1993 a local endocrinologist asked Rene to help him get his patients healthy. He had come to realize that he needed to offer them more than just medication. For years, Rene helped people lose from 15 to 200 pounds, working at two area hospitals.

In 1999 Bill became vice president of real estate sales at Sandestin, and in 2001 regional director of sales for the Gulf Coast of Florida and Mexico. Because of constant travel, Bill eventually invested in a startup resort community in Georgia, which did not survive the Great Recession of 2008.

For the last five years the two have lived and worked in Destin, owning their own real estate company and an anti-aging company dedicated to helping people “live younger longer.” They live their belief that “Your thoughts and words create your actions, your actions form your habits, and your habits build your character.”

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/787484834641203/

November 20 2014 "Meditation in Motion ” topic of Anita Kurz

“Meditation in Motion” is the title of a presentation to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Nov. 20 by Anita Kurz, a fitness instructor for 30 years.

Instead of the usual format which begins with a meditation, Kurz will begin by leading the group in the eight essential movements, a form of Chi Kung (also known as chi gong). These movements help relax the mind which then helps to relax the body. After Kurz responds to questions, the group will do its usual 30-minute silent meditation.

Kurz, who grew up on Long Island, has lived in this area since 1979. She has taught aerobics and tap dancing and been a personal trainer. Currently, in addition to Chi Kung (or Enerchi, as she calls it), she teaches tai chi and a new class titled, “Older but…Better,” designed for older folks who want to begin a fitness program but may be intimidated by the idea of going to a gym. It includes cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility. All classes are taught at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville.

Kurz holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, a certificate for fitness instructors from UCLA, and a master’s degree in exercise science from the U.S. Sports Academy. She is married with three children.

December 4 2014 "Qi Gong: Breath, Energy, Meditation” topic of Dawn Brooks

“Learn to use mindfulness, breath and intention to enliven the energy centers and channels in the body,” says Brooks. “Qi Gong is an ancient practice of movement and meditation much like yoga; it centers on mindful movements. The practices presented are simple meditations that move energy through the body to wake up energy channels and heal old injuries no matter the original cause.”

Brooks is an experienced yoga instructor with special interest in a spiritual path that includes meditation and healing from the inside out. She owns and teaches classes and workshops at Yoga Elements in Carillon Beach, Panama City Beach.

She began practicing yoga in 2003 to help with her own assorted physical problems. She says she “fell in love with yoga” and began teaching it at a fitness center in 2005. In 2008 she attended Discovery Yoga Teachers Training in St. Augustine, a five-week, 200-hour course in kripalu yoga. This qualified her as a registered teacher with the Yoga Alliance.

In 2011 she completed 500 hours of advanced training, to qualify as a Master Yoga Teacher. Her continuing studies are in yoga as therapy, with a special interest in fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

She has been a registered nurse since 1984 and has practiced nursing in many different capacities, including in surgery and with pain-management patients. Brooks hails from Kansas, where she did her nurse’s training. She moved to this area in 2012. Brooks is married and has two sons.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/298014513728578/

December 18 2014 - Colleen Gay will demonstrate ‘Stress Relief at Your Fingertips’

"Stress Relief at Your Fingertips" is the title of a talk to be given by Colleen Gay, who has been helping people find relief via EFT, or tapping, for 10 years.

Gay is an educator and trainer who in 2004 discovered a self-help energy healing technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). She subsequently qualified as a certified EFT practitioner and has worked with hundreds of people, many by telephone. She teaches them how EFT can help them reduce stress, physical pain and illness, and add another dimension to their spiritual practice.

She will talk about how to use tapping on acupressure points on the body to relieve stress from physical pain, daily life, and anxiety from any source. She will also demonstrate how to use tapping to enhance spiritual practice and instill healthy habits. Participants will learn to do EFT and leave with a powerful tool to add to their stress-relief repertoire.

Gay and her husband, of Northfield, Minnesota, formerly lived in south Walton County and now spend their winters here.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/734059826663857/

2015

January 8, 2015 "3 Metaphors for Enlightenment” topic of Ron Frazer

"Three Metaphors for Enlightenment" is the title of a talk to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on Thursday, Jan. 8. Speaker will be Dr. Ron Frazer, a natural health practitioner and novelist.

Although ECMS usually meets on the first and third Thursdays, because the first Thursday of January was New Year’s Day, the ECMS will meet on the second and fourth Thursdays this month.

Frazer has degrees in mechanical engineering, mathematics, natural health and ninety percent of a degree in fine arts. He has lived in the U.S., the United Kingdom, St. Lucia and Grenada. Since 2001, he has lived on the Emerald Coast (where he says he can pretend he's still living in the Caribbean) with his naturopath wife, Sandy.

He has published five novels, with a sixth coming out in February. Three of them are a trilogy featuring a black female detective: “The Carib’s Smile,” “The Judge’s Wife” and “The Women, Left.” “Time Branches” is the story of a woman in a coma who discovers she can move in time and space. His first novel, “A Handful of Seawater,” is the story of a poor boy living on a tropical island who is guided by a simple fisherman. Fraser’s new novel is “Millenium 3,” set in 2953 in a peaceful world controlled mostly by women.

Frazer says his stories are based on the lives of his students and their families on the Caribbean island of Grenada, where he taught math and science following the 1983 U.S. intervention. 

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1535374870034047/

January 22, 2015 "Awakening. A Dialogue with a Zen Monk” with Claude Anshin Thomas

Claude AnShin Thomas, a Vietnam War veteran, author, international advocate for nonviolence, and leader of a Zen Buddhist center in Mary Esther, will speak at the Jan. 22 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on “Awakening - A Dialogue with a Zen Monk.”

On this night, donations will be accepted to help support Claude Anshin and his work. He spoke to ECMS previously on May 15, 2014.

Born in Pennsylvania, Thomas served in Vietnam in 1966-67 at age 18. Part of a helicopter crew, he was shot down five times and wounded once, receiving the Purple Heart, among other medals. Since 1968, he has worked to heal the wounds from that war for himself and others, and “to address the plight of many of my fellow veterans who were being socially ostracized--suffering homelessness, drug addiction, social isolation, and high rates of suicide, divorce, and imprisonment.”

In 1991 he came in contact with the Vietnamese Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. It was through Buddhist practice that he became aware of the devastating and lasting effects of war and violence, and how to make peace with this non-peacefulness.

In 1995 he was fully ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition by the American Zen Master Bernard Glassman. In 1994 he founded the Zaltho Foundation, a nonprofit organization to foster nonviolence and change. In 1999 he started the Magnolia Zen Center in Mary Esther. Thomas is a mendicant monk by vow.

In 2004 his book, “At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace,” was published by Shambhala Publications. Today he leads programs worldwide on meditation, healing, and transformation, dividing his time among the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia in working to bring an end to the repetitive cycles of suffering and violence.

Nancy added to the press release this message to her email list: Hello, Fellow Meditators,

I'm happy to let you know that the amazing Zen priest who has a center in Mary Esther will be our speaker again at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on ThursdayJan. 22.  That's at 6:30 p.m. at Christ the King Episcopal Church, on Hwy. 393 half a mile north of Hwy. 98 in Santa Rosa Beach, as usual.  See the press release I sent out about his talk, below.  He spoke to us first in May 2014.  Because he travels a great deal, he is seldom available to the ECMS, so it is wonderful when he can make the time.

As you can see, he is calling his talk a dialogue and I know, from what he has said, that he prefers to respond to questions from the audience -- so be prepared to ask something!  Also, please be aware that Claude Anshin and his assistant, Kenshin, live on donations to the Zaltho Foundation, so on that night only, any donations you leave in the basket at the church will go to them.  If you write a check, make it to the Zaltho Foundation.  Thanks! 

February 5, 2015 "Light Energy Therapy” with Buddy Bowman

Buddy Bowman, a retired Air Force officer and former pilot, will speak on “Light Energy Therapy--Medicine of the Future--Is Here Now.” Bowman is one of just 12 people in the U.S. and the first in Florida to be a certified Quantum Light Energy Coach.

Light Energy Therapy, Bowman explains, “increases circulation by stimulating the natural production of nitric oxide and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), thereby protecting your telomeres and reducing inflammation, pain, and stress.” It is non-invasive, has no side effects, and “best of all, it’s drug free.” Bowman will explain the science behind it, how it works, and the benefits of its use as an all-natural healing modality.

Bowman and his wife have conducted more than 750 therapy sessions in their first two years at their Light for Life practice in Fort Walton Beach. He teaches an eight-week Light Therapy course for the Center for LifeLong Learning at the UWF Fort Walton Beach campus. He can be reached at www.buddybowman.com.

Bowman grew up on a farm in the Idaho Rockies and has been a lifetime advocate of natural health. He entered the Air Force from AFROTC and flew over 4,000 hours in 23 different aircraft, including 167 combat missions in two tours in the F-105 and F-4. He was shot down once but safely rescued. Bowman has been awarded the Silver Star, seven Distinguished Flying Crosses, 23 Air Medals, and two Meritorious Service Medals. He has also flown 20 miles into space in the rocket-powered NF-104 at Edwards Air Force Base, Cal.

Upon assignment to Eglin AFB in 1968, Bowman met his future “Wife for Life,” Jackie. They travelled around the world and eventually returned here in 1980. They have two grown sons.

Bowman holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Utah State University, a master of arts in business management from Central Michigan University, and a master of science in counseling psychology from Troy University. He has taught over 50 graduate-level courses as an adjunct professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has travelled throughout the U.S., Europe, Southwest and Southeast Asia, the Far East and Israel.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1550855561824011/

February 19, 2015 "Bhakti, the Yoga of Devotion” with Tammy Binkley and Shantaya

Local yoga teachers Tammy Binkley and Shantaya will speak about yoga and healing mantras as a path to self-realization, and the real work of yoga beyond just the poses on the mat.

The group, which usually meets in the parish hall, will meet in the Church sanctuary.

“We will learn about the five bodies influenced by yoga, mantra and meditation, and how we can become a whole human being,” says Binkley. “Also, how we can awaken to our true nature to save ourselves and the planet.” She adds that “We will breathe, chant, and meditate together.”

Binkley is a yoga and spiritual teacher, holistic esthetician and intuitive healer. She has been teaching yoga for over 15 years and was previously an Aveda esthetician for eleven years. She used both to inspire others, creating peace and touching many lives while improving mind, body, spirit and skin for her friends and clients. Her calling is to empower others, through yoga and total body wellness, to follow their dreams and live a life full of passion and purpose. She offers private and public yoga classes, workshops and retreats as well as customized holistic organic skin care.

Shantaya is a famed German singer who, under the name Jenny Boneja, has been performing on stage since the age of 12 and has served as lead singer in a rock-and-roll band and a rhythm-and-blues band. But she wanted to experience more than that and to answer the spiritual question, “Who am I without that?” She studied yoga for over a decade and then lived at Ammaʼs Amritapuri Ashram in Kerala, India, for a month. In January 2013 she moved to New Orleans where she completed yoga teacher training.

She now performs and records healing mantras, which are age-old chants that empower people to heal their own emotional and physical injuries. Last September she traveled through four southeastern states on a Healing Mantra tour.

March 7, 2015 Noted Buddhist teacher will lead mindfulness retreat

John Orr, a noted Buddhist teacher in the Vipassana tradition, will be the featured presenter at the third in a series of mindfulness retreats sponsored by the Emerald Coast Meditation Society.

The retreat will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, at Christ the King Episcopal Church parish hall. Anyone who considers attending should be aware that one or more of the meditation periods will be 45 minutes long, so experienced meditators will be given priority.

Orr received Theravada Buddhist ordination while living in Thailand and India as a monk for eight years in the 1970s. Since 1980 he has been teaching and leading retreats around the world. He has also practiced in the Taoist, Dzogchen and Hindu Yoga traditions.

Orr says he has been “deeply affected by my contact with the healer John of God,” and leads groups to his center in Brazil. Orr is an interfaith minister and the dharma teacher for the New Hope Sangha in Durham, N.C.

He also teaches at Duke University.

The March 7 mindfulness retreat will be silent except for two dharma talks by Orr. It will include several 30-minute or 45-minute periods of meditation, plus walking meditation and a yoga experience.

Says Orr, “Mindfulness meditation is a simple and direct practice that fits with just about any spiritual path. It is the moment-to-moment investigation of the mind/body process through calm, focused awareness. Through this practice we become more aware of and comfortable with our body, emotions and thoughts, thus decreasing the need to hide from the experiences life offers.”

Cost of the retreat is $25, with scholarships available. Participants will be asked to bring their own bag lunch.

To express interest, contact Nancy James at nancyjames@embarqmail.com or 231-1498. There will be a limit on the number of participants. The ECMS is a nonprofit, ecumenical organization that offers opportunities for the practice of meditation, including twice-monthly meetings at Christ the King church.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1399574627012815

March 19, 2015 'Is God a Human Invention?' will be Yanni Drucker topic

”Is God a Human Invention or Does God Really Exist?” will be the question posed by Yaani Drucker when she speaks at the March 19 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. Drucker had been scheduled to speak on March 5 when she was called away by a family emergency.

“Where does the idea of God come from?” Drucker asks. “Does it matter? Can God’s existence be proved or disproved? Can God be experienced, and should we want to experience God?” Her talk will be “one truth-seeker’s conclusions” based on her experiences.

Drucker says she has spent most of her life on a quest for truth. In the past 33 years she has made some 35 trips to India, including a number of solo spiritual treks through the Himalayas, all propelled by a passionate longing to find Truth. She has been guided by the wisdom of Sai Baba and “A Course in Miracles” to her own awakening. She now offers workshops and classes on enlightenment.

Drucker has written a book titled “Not Guilty: Undoing the Illusion of Separate Existence,” which is freely available on the Internet along with its associated course in enlightenment. She has a 30-year history with Sai Baba in India and has extensively studied “A Course in Miracles.”

She was born in San Diego, CA., and raised on a dairy farm in western Washington state. She graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Western Washington University and went on to do post-graduate studies at the John Bastyr School of Natural Medicine in Seattle. She and husband Al Drucker live in Wisconsin Dells, WI, and winter in Seagrove Beach.

April 9, 2015 'Encounters with the Eternal' will be Al Drucker topic

“Encounters with the Eternal” will be the title of a talk by Al Drucker to be given to the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on April 9. Drucker, who spent more than 40 years studying under and working with Sai Baba in India, says he “has been blessed with countless experiences with Sai Baba,” some of which he will share.

Drucker came to America as a young boy fleeing the Nazis. In his professional career he was part of the technical team managing the U.S. ballistic missile programs and was also active with NASA, the FAA, and the National Academy of Science. After 15 years, he left the technological field, changed professions and joined the Esalen Institute in California, to become a holistic health practitioner and teacher.

One day while piloting a small plane, he was caught in a violent storm over the Sierra Nevada mountains. After hours in the storm, with his plane coming apart and his fuel running out, a mysterious voice came on the radio and guided him to safety. Seeking the source of that voice he was led to Sai Baba in India.

Subsequently, during the 70’s and 80’s, he made 30 trips to Sai Baba in India and lived in the ashram for nine years. There, he taught physics at the university and gave lectures on spiritual topics to faculty and ashram visitors.

He also published a number of books, including “Bhagavad Gita for Today,” “Self Realization,” and “Awakening to Truth,” available for free download at atma-institute.org. Video interviews of Al can be found on vimeo.com/channels/aldrucker.

Back in the U.S. he co-founded Atma Institute, a nonprofit school based on spiritual principles. Now retired, he lives with his wife, Yaani, in a log cabin in the woods on the Wisconsin River. They winter in Santa Rosa Beach.

April 16, 2015 'Tai Chi Chuan' will be Dr. Wu topic

Dr. Tzong Jiunn Wu will present a program on “Tai Chi Chuan” to the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on April 16. Dr. Wu performs acupuncture at the Healing Art Acupuncture clinic on Hwy. 98 in Miramar Beach.

Dr. Wu will not only talk about tai chi chuan and demonstrate it, he will also teach some of the movements to the audience.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Dr. Wu graduated from college and was pursuing a career in medical research when he converted to Christianity. Somehow this compelled him to change direction – drastically, as it led him to Austin, Texas, where he studied at the Texas College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There he earned a master’s degree in traditional Oriental medicine, and was certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbology.

In addition to performing acupuncture, Dr. Wu practices herbology, mixing different combinations of curative herbs to help a patient’s recovery. He began this experimentally when, during college, he nearly died from mold poisoning. Trying out various herbs on himself, he discovered which combinations could treat his condition and continued to pursue this aspect of his practice.

Dr. Wu is married with two daughters. He moved to this area in 2007 and, with a partner, founded Healing Art Acupuncture that year, but has since bought out his partner.

May 7, 2015 Discussion of Mindfulness

May 21, 2015 ‘Labyrinth of Life’ by Anne Hornstein

Life Dancer Anne Hornstein will be presenting "The Labyrinth of Life." Hornstein’s presentation will be interactive and include walking a labyrinth, the history and background of labyrinths, and benefits of using a labyrinth as a meditative practice.

“Labyrinths are a walking meditation, a transformative journey of life, a mystical path to embody spiritual wholeness and nourish the soul,” says Hornstein. “They are an inner journey for self-discovery that enhances whole brain activity, a path to the center of the soul, and a metaphor for the path of life.”

The labyrinth is a curving walking path with numerous 180-degree turns that allow one to center and quiet his or her mind, relax the whole body-mind system and enhance clarity and focus, Hornstein explains. Scientific data shows that walking a labyrinth can balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and induce receptive states of consciousness. Traditional labyrinths have only one path leading to the center and back out again.

Hornstein has lived on the Emerald Coast for over 20 years. She visited here for a couple of days (got sand in her shoes), which turned into a couple of weeks, which turned into a couple of years and now, two decades later, she's still “living here, loving life,” she says. She is a licensed Brain Gym consultant and Matrix Energetics certified practitioner, and guides adventures that empower individuals and groups of all ages--including corporate teams, athletes, artists, families and educators--to access and integrate their own creative wisdom.

June 4, 2015 “Impressions of a Veterans’ Retreat with Claude AnShin Thomas” talk by Kinsey

Dianne Kinsey will describe a retreat for veterans and their families that she attended at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in April 2015. Claude AnShin Thomas, who led the retreat, is head of the Magnolia Zen Center in Mary Esther, FL, and works extensively with veterans.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Kinsey graduated from Roger Williams school of nursing in Bristol, R.I. She then earned bachelor and master of science degrees in psychiatric/mental health nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctorate is in education from Lehigh University, where her thesis was cited as the outstanding dissertation of the year.

Kinsey taught psychiatric-mental health nursing at Cedar Crest College, a women's college in Allentown, PA, for 27 years, retiring as a full professor emeritus. She then taught for five years at the University of Rhode Island as a clinical professor of psychiatric nursing. She has authored a number of nursing and health-related publications.

Kinsey has two sons and is the grandmother of a six-year-old boy. She retired to Destin in November 2014.

June 18 'From Difficulty to Divine Purpose' will be Felicia McQuaid topic

Felicia McQuaid will talk about the power of reiki and the role of faith in the healing process. She will share insights from her new book, "Uncommon Faith: The Journey from Difficulty to Divine Purpose."

“Witness how uncommon faith can lead you to unimaginable heights in your heart and in your life,” says McQuaid. In her book, she shares her personal journey of transforming her own difficulties into a divine purpose, sharing life lessons that anyone can use to transform their own internal struggles.

“Reiki taught me the power of self-healing and self-care,” she says. “Reiki taught me to have faith in my own ability to heal, and to release the old. It offered me a tangible connection to an unlimited source of energy, one that was full of compassion and love such as I had not known before.”

For more than a decade McQuaid has used reiki, yoga and energy work to train, transform and touch thousands of lives through her work as the owner of THE Healing Clinic of Fort Walton Beach. During this time, she has also traveled extensively as a motivational speaker and teacher.

McQuaid’s training includes two different types of reiki master training, in 2005 and 2009; in 2010, graduation from the Source Institute of Massage Therapy; Level One Galactic Healing in 2011; Level One and Two Theta Healing in 2012; also 2012, certified as an Angel Therapist; and in 2015 Level One Pranic Healing.

McQuaid was born and raised in Kansas and has lived in Florida since the early 1990s. She has two children.

September 3 'Bring Foods to Life with Sprouting' will be Caroling Geary topic

Note: due to illness, Caroling's talk is postponed to November 5. The meeting became a group discussion.

September 17 'Many Ways to Heal' will be Cindi Newhouse topic

Cindi Newhouse will discuss traditional Western and Far Eastern forms of medicine, how they differ, and the newer, more integrative ways of thinking about healing. She plans to discuss reiki in particular, and the active partnership between the practitioner and patient. The key ingredients, she says, are an ability and desire to give, along with the heart to receive.

Newhouse has long been interested in how our minds work. She says she can remember back when “the other teenage girls had subscribed to teen magazines, and I was reading Psychology Today.”

Newhouse, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., holds a nursing RN degree and reiki certification. She and her late husband lived “all over the map” before moving to the Emerald Coast in 2014. She says she is very happy to call Santa Rosa Beach home

Newhouse claims to have “two beautiful daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and two perfect grandchildren.” She also adores her newest acquisition, “a simply terrific dog I found through Alaqua Animal Refuge.” Babs is in training to become a therapy dog. Newhouse spends much of her time painting. 

October 1 'Acting on Instinct' will be Nancy Hasty topic

Born at Eglin Air Force Base and a graduate of Crestview High School and the University of West Florida, Hasty says she “went to New York to be an actress and somehow that evolved into taking theater to unusual places.” One was in prisons, where she directed five productions by federal, state and county inmates. Another was creating plays in judge's chambers for after-prison programs.

After spending her adult life in NYC, she returned to Florida in 2013 and currently resides in DeFuniak Springs with her husband, Ray. She says she has now “established a theater for people with developmental disabilities in Walton County.”

In New York, she started as an actress, starring off-Broadway, before she turned to writing plays. One of her plays, “The Director,” starring John Shea, ran off-Broadway for six months to popular and critical acclaim. She has toured her original one-woman show, “Florida Girls,” around the country following its New York run.

Hasty is published by Broadway Play Publishing and Smith and Kraus. She is the first-place recipient of the Jerry Kaufman Award for Playwriting; a professional member of the Dramatists Guild; voted Artist of the Year by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and is an award-winning poet.

In Florida, she founded the No Limits Theatre Company at the Arc of Walton County in DeFuniak Springs. The Company is comprised of Arc clients and students, as well as community actors. In addition to numerous performances in DeFuniak, the company has toured with various shows to Gainesville for The Arc State Convention; Seaside; Grand Boulevard; Bob Hope Village in Shalimar; and the Fort Walton Beach Civic Auditorium. 

October 15 'Writing as a Meditative Activity' by Nic Stoltzfus

"Writing as a Meditative Activity” will be the topic addressed by Nic Stoltzfus for the Oct. 15 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society.

Stoltzfus is a Florida native who grew up in Blountstown and attended Florida State University where he received his bachelors’ degree in communication. Stoltzfus then went on to teach English in Japan for a year before returning to work for the film production company started by his father, Elam Stoltzfus.

The two collaborated on the recent movie shot mainly in Walton County: Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Nic Stoltzfus wrote the screenplay and the accompanying coffee table book for that film.

In his talk, he will discuss how he uses writing as a form of meditation and how this practice has helped him deal with some of his life struggles. Included in his talk will be a portion about the role of meditative writing in creating art. 

November 5 'Bring Food to Life with Sprouting' by Caroling

Bring Foods to Life with Sprouting” will be Caroling Wholeo Geary’s topic at the Nov. 5 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. Although she was scheduled to give this talk in September, illness prevented her from doing so. Geary prefers to be referred to by her artist name, "Caroling." {Handout.}

“Beans, seeds, nuts and grains are seed packages, ready to grow into plants,” says Caroling. “You can enliven them by soaking, germinating, sprouting, dehydrating and blending.

“It’s not that hard, and it makes your food more nutritious, delicious and digestible. While bringing food to life, you extend the spiritual practice of eating mindfully. Sprouting is a metaphor for meditation.”

Caroling will discuss what, why and how she sprouts food for cooking, eating raw, processing and storing. Her staple is almond butter. In addition to considerations of tending the sprouts, work includes dehydration with an Excalibur and blending with a Vitamix. Since sprouting is a changing field with varying information and practices, she welcomes your input.

Caroling is an artist, photographer, nature lover and visionary. Over 60 years, she has evolved her art from oriental ink drawing, oil painting, printmaking and stained glass into digital computer graphics and video.

Raised in Minnesota, and having lived on both east and west coasts, she moved to this area in 2002. She has been active with the Florida Trail Association, Friends of Deer Lake State Park and South Walton Community Council. She takes part in Emerald Coast Meditation Society meetings and maintains ECMS pages on Facebook and Google+.

Since retiring as a Silicon Valley technical writer in 1996, Caroling has worked fulltime on her website Wholeo.Net. She enjoys daily yoga and walking. She holds B.A. and M.F.A. degrees in art from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in electronics technology from Santa Rosa Junior College in California. She has one married daughter and three grandsons.

November 19 'Gong Meditation' by Jamie Flynn

A different format will be offered at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society at its next meeting, on Nov. 19. The session will be led by Jamie Flynn and will consist of a musical theme. He calls it “Gong Meditation: Binary Beat as a Meditative Focus."

Flynn will suggest sitting as close together as possible. He will give a short introduction with a brief overview on binary beats. He will then give three soundings of the tingshas (small bells) to call people to meditation. At this point a large gong is invited to resonance. He says a typical session lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Upon conclusion, the tingshas bring the group back to focus and conclude the meditation.

Flynn says he started doing “this music thing right before turning three years old.” And he cannot remember a time in his life when he wasn’t involved with music, “except for a couple of brief periods of being a hermit sculptor and shunning society.”

He has played professionally in various styles and venues on several different instruments,travelling about the country for a few years. He eventually found himself in the mental health community as a music therapist and recreational therapist with an insatiable desire to understand why music and vibration have such an impact.

Born in West Virginia, he grew up between there and New Mexico. He attended a total of six colleges but has no degree. He and his wife have five sons. At their home in Marianna, they own and operate an animal sanctuary, rescue and rehab on about 25 acres.

December 3 'Our Divine Potential at This Time on Earth' by Sabrina Reber

“We will discuss strengthening our relationships with our higher selves,” says Reber, “so we can raise the vibrational frequencies of our physical bodies and purify our souls. We do this to incarnate our Christ Selves into our physical bodies. This is the return of Christ; it is the return of our Christ Consciousness.”

In 2005, after a two-year “dark night of the soul,” Sabrina says she had a kundalini experience where she merged into oneness with her higher self. This completely changed her life and way of being in the world. She began to study energy medicine and became certified in many modalities: reiki, karuna, pranic healing, DNA theta healing, and others.

After her kundalini ascension, she says her multidimensional senses were opened, and she began to work with a group of spiritual beings known as the “Counsel of 12″ who helped her write her ascension book called “Raise Your Vibration.” Once the book was released, she began her online journey of service to others by writing thousands of spiritual articles to inspire and assist others on their ascension journeys.

Her online presence has allowed Sabrina to work with hundreds of thousands of people around the world helping them to stay committed to the expansion of their consciousness. She has taken sacred pilgrimages throughout Egypt, India, Peru and Brazil, and has spent 15 days living with a Shipibo Tribe in the Amazon. Sabrina has been initiated as an ordained minister in the Lively Stones Full Gospel Ministry by the healer Willard Fuller, who was known to perform dental miracles by the laying on of his hands. She is also an initiate into the Hierarchy of Light through the Ancient Mystery Schools which are deeply rooted in the old arts of metaphysics.

Sabrina has been married for 20 years and has two daughters. She is also an artist, but says her greatest passion is “helping others connect with their true selves…their higher selves.”

December 17 'Shamanic Breathwork' by Pat Cummins (Sheewho)

“Shamanic Breathwork is a process that allows participants to access their personal inner multidimensionality," says Cummins. “The process, as created by Linda Star Wolf, uses music and breath to promote shifting safely into altered states of consciousness without the use of substances or chemicals.”

This shift from our normal ego-driven consciousness allows access to a greater transformational experience of who we are, Cummins continues, “and can support us in releasing old beliefs and addictive patterns while also calling in visions of our future self. “

Cummins is a certified Shamanic Breathwork minister and practitioner, and an advanced graduate of Venus Rising Association for Transformation. She has lived in the Okaloosa and south Walton areas since 1970. She grew up in south Alabama but spent much time in Grayton Beach, where her parents purchased a small cottage during WWII. Her undergraduate degree is from Livingston University with a masters from Troy State.

2016

January 7 'Miracles: A Window into the Eternal' by Al Drucker

For over 50 years Drucker has been associated with the non-dual Advaita teachings of his spiritual preceptor, Sai Baba in India, and during that time was the recipient of countless miraculous happenings that were way beyond his physics and physiology training to understand. He now recognizes miracles as a vital aspect of the awakening process, which, he says, “loosens the pernicious allure of worldly phenomena and beliefs.” He will recount a number of miraculous experiences and speak of the value of developing miracle consciousness in our lives.

Drucker came to America as a young boy fleeing the Nazis. In his professional career he was part of the technical team managing the U.S. ballistic missile programs and was also active with NASA, the FAA, and the U.S. National Academy of Science. After 15 years, he left the technological field and changed professions to join the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, and become a holistic health practitioner and teacher.

One day, while piloting a small plane over the Sierra Nevada mountains, he was caught in a violent storm. After hours in the storm, with his plane coming apart and his fuel running out, a mysterious voice came on the radio and guided him to safety. Seeking the source of that voice led him to Sai Baba in India.

After many trips to India he lived in Sai Baba's ashram for nine years. He taught astro-physics at the university there, gave lectures on spiritual topics to faculty and ashram visitors, and published a number of books, including “Bhagavad Gita for Today,” “Self Realization,” and “Awakening to Truth,” all available for download on his website, atma-institute.org. Video interviews and talks by Drucker can be found on vimeo.com/channels/aldrucker.

Note: Al Drucker died February 20.

January 21 “Reiki: Ancient Healing, Spiritual Path” by Dawn Brooks

Dawn Brooks will talk about “Reiki: Ancient Healing, Spiritual Path”. Brooks was introduced to Reiki in 2007 when she accompanied a close friend to Reiki level 1 Initiation and was blown away by the experience. At first she used the practice mainly for self-healing and spiritual development. Now she is a Reiki Master Teacher sharing this healing practice with private clients and those who wish to be initiated into the practice.

Brooks has lived in the Panama City area for 12 years. She moved here to be close to the water and enjoy the warmer climate, along with her husband and two sons. Following a 30-year nursing career, she is now following a new calling as a yoga instructor and reiki trainer. Interested in all movement and energy traditions, she studies qi gong, reiki, and yoga tantric practices, among others. Owner of Yoga Elements in Carillon Beach, she says she enjoys guiding others to better understand themselves and their path.

Brooks grew up in Maine and moved to Kansas at age 17. She attended the University of Kansas, then graduated from Stormont Vail School of Nursing in 1984. She worked as a nurse in many capacities over the years while raising two sons, then retired from nursing in 2014.

She obtained her basic 200-hour yoga training in 2008 at Discovery Yoga in St. Augustine, then her 500-hour training in 2011. Dawn is also trained in prenatal yoga and standup paddleboard yoga. Meditation being part of the path, she has enjoyed insight meditation training through Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche in the Tergar Tradition and facilitates a Buddhist book club monthly, open to anyone interested. She also leads a Monday evening Metta Meditation group, and yearly Yoga Adventure Retreats in the mountains.

February 4 “Being Happy With What Is.” by Dr. John Savage

Dr. John Savage, who has been practicing dentistry in Ebro along the Choctawhatchee River for over 30 years, will speak to the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Feb. 4 on “Being Happy With What Is.”

He writes, “Can you make a serious commitment that ‘I will be happy’? If so it could change your thinking and even your life. I hope to stir up a provocative and stimulating discussion.”

Savage was born and raised in Destin. However, his roots in this area date from 1870, when his great-grandfather began traveling by horse and buggy to treat dental patients along the Choctawhatchee River.

Savage earned a degree in dentistry from Emory University, and taught in the dental school while pursuing a law degree. While practicing dentistry in the Atlanta area he served 10 years in the Georgia legislature, representing two different districts for five years each. He also served two stints in the U.S. Navy during Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica.

But, he says, “The emotional pull for me to return to the Choctawhatchee River never left me.” Eventually he and his father bought land along the river, setting the stage for one of the most remote dental practices one might imagine.

He has thrived in his specialty, which is cosmetic dentistry – or helping people have pretty smiles, as he puts it. Now in his 58th year of practicing dentistry, he also finds delight in speaking on his philosophy, which includes trying to learn something new every day. In 2008 he was a founder of the Destin Philosophical Society, which holds monthly meetings.

February 18 "Thoughts are Things" by Kabe Woods

"Thoughts Are Things" is the title of a talk to be given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society Feb. 18 by Kabe Woods, facilitator of the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fort Walton Beach.

In his talk Woods will discuss how our thoughts influence and develop our individual consciousness and the collective consciousness of the world around us. He will share how the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth and other teachers have described this process and the process of transforming our consciousness toward love, peace and deep connection to ultimate truth and God.

A retired senior executive with past leadership roles at AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent and ADVO Inc., Woods started his meditation practice in 1978. Since 1994 he has practiced in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and was ordained by him into the "Order of Interbeing" in September 2013. He is a member of the Magnolia Grove Mindfulness Practice Center & Monastery community in Batesville, Miss. He is also a member of Unity Church in Ft. Walton Beach where he is a prayer chaplain trainer, teaching centering prayer and meditation.

The Mindfulness Practice Center of Fort Walton Beach was established in June 2013. It is open for meditation practice six days a week.

https://www.facebook.com/events/994279023982311/

February 27 "Meditation: A Path to Mindful Living" by John Orr, an all-day retreat

All-day silent meditation retreat led by John Orr, a noted Buddhist teacher from North Carolina, who also led a one-day retreat here in March 2015.

The retreat, sponsored by the Emerald Coast Meditation Society, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the parish hall of Christ the King Episcopal Church, 480 N. Co. Rd. 393, one-half mile north of Hwy. 98.

The cost is $60, payable in advance at the time of registration, with scholarships available. In addition, the tradition of “dana,” will be in effect, in which a Buddhist teacher is given a donation separate from the cost of the retreat. While the retreat is open to anyone who meditates, please keep in mind that one or more of the sittings will last 45 minutes.

Orr received Theravada Buddhist ordination while living as a monk in Thailand and India for eight years in the 1970s. Since 1980 he has been teaching and leading retreats around the world. He has studied and practiced in several Buddhist traditions but mainly in Vipassana, or Insight Meditation.

Says Orr, “Mindfulness meditation is a simple and direct practice that fits with just about any spiritual path. It is the moment-to-moment investigation of the mind/body process through calm, focused awareness. Through this practice we become more aware of and comfortable with our body, emotions and thoughts, thus decreasing the need to hide from the experiences life offers.”

Orr says he has been “deeply affected by my contact with the healer John of God,” and leads groups to his center in Brazil. Orr is an interfaith minister and the dharma teacher for the New Hope Sangha in Durham, N.C. He also teaches at Duke University.

The Feb. 27 retreat will be silent except for two dharma talks by Orr followed by questions and answers. It will include multiple 30- to 45-minute periods of sitting meditation, plus walking meditation, chanting, and free time for exercise. Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Sign-in will begin at 8:30 a.m.; silence begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

To express interest in attending, contact Tracey Tapp at tltapp@cox.net or 478-960-0174. The number of participants will be limited to 35.

March 3 "Thru-Hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail" by Mary McKinley

“Solvitur Ambulando: a Thru-Hike of the Florida National Scenic Trail” is the tale to be told March 3 by Mary McKinley.

McKinley says she is the first woman to do the southbound thru-hike of the trail. The Florida National Scenic Trail is a congressionally designated National Scenic Trail approximately 1,100 miles long. It showcases the incredible biodiversity, history, and rich culture of Florida. Its terminals lie in Gulf Island National Seashore to the North and Big Cypress National Preserve in the South.

McKinley worked in adult education for 37 years and is an adjunct professor in the math department at Northwest Florida State College. She started long-distance hiking when she was 50, and has hiked the entire 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail as well.

McKinley was born and raised in Dallas and has lived in Niceville since 1999.

March 17 "Seven marathons in 7 days—in the Congo!" by Colleen Duffley

Colleen Duffley, a local artist and photographer who ran seven marathons in seven days – in the Congo – will be the March 17 speaker at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. She titles her talk “On the Run – Congo!”

A runner as well as a photographer, Duffley says the races were on behalf of women’s equality, and she shot the whole time she was running, so has some amazing photos to show the group. “’On the run’ is a series of images I take on the run-- which is my meditation,” Duffley explains.

In 2009 Duffley started Studio b. in Alys Beach, a creative venue that brings creative people together. It is for “the best of the best,” she says, featuring not only painting, photography and sculpture, but also writing, food, fashion and design--as well as handmade paper boxes from Stockholm!

Duffley was born and grew up in Pittsburgh with a British mother, and also lived elsewhere in Pennsylvania. Having earned a degree in art from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, she is a commercial advertising and magazine photographer. As founder and creative director of Colleen Duffley Productions, she has shot national and international campaigns for Nieman Marcus, Volkswagon, and Carnival Cruise lines; and her photos have appeared in hundreds of national and international magazines.

She eventually moved to south Florida, Birmingham and Dallas, then to this area, where she used to come for photo shoots. She has lived 13 years on Eastern Lake in Santa Rosa Beach.

“Because of my career I have had the good fortune to travel all over the world,” Duffley says. “In fact during most of my career I have traveled 200-plus days a year.” Instead of kids, she says she has two wonderful cats, Pippa and Stella.

Note: current ECMS events are posted to Facebook, Google+, SoWal Forum, and 30A.com. See main page for links.

Past Events from 2010-2014

Listing of past events from October 21, 2010 - March, 2014.
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