ECMS logoECMS Past Events

For events following March, 2014, see ECMS Events, 2014.

Emerald Coast Meditation Society (ECMS) general topics are on the home page. If not otherwise noted, each meeting started with 30 minutes of meditation at 6:30 p.m. at Christ the King Episcopal Church meeting room, 480 N. Co. Hwy. 393, Santa Rosa Beach, one-half mile north of Hwy. 98 and following the talk and discussion, each evening concluded with a short guided meditation. Sunrise meditations are sometimes on the beach using the dune crossover at the spot where Seaside meets WaterColor. There is a big parking lot across the street (30-A). When the sun does not rise over the Gulf of Mexico, use a location on Choctawhatchee Bay. Jump to the years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

2014

March 20, 2014 ‘Your Enlightenment Blesses the World’ Drucker topic

Yaani Drucker, who has made more than 25 trips to India and a number of spiritual treks through the Himalayas, shared her understanding and experience of self-realization in a talk titled “Your Enlightenment Blesses the World.”

“While many of us have been on a spiritual journey, enlightenment has eluded us,” says Drucker. “And so, most have moved on, decided enlightenment is not attainable, not necessary, or not important.” Drucker addressed the urgency of waking up now, suggesting that nothing is more vital to our continued existence.

“And it is fully possible for everyone,” she says. “To wake up, nothing is asked that we cannot give right now. A profound shift in consciousness, readily accessible to everyone, leads us from the distorted perception of multiplicity to oneness.”

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 the late guru 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 BA in psychology from Western Washington University and went on to do post-grad studies at the John Bastyr School of Natural Medicine in Seattle. She has spent most of her adult life traveling to India on a quest for truth.

She is married to Al Drucker, with whom she lives in Wisconsin Dells, WI.They winter in Seagrove Beach.

March 6, 2014 Pastor told of personal, spiritual transformation

“The Way Back Home: From Christian Orthodoxy to Freedom” is the title of a talk given by Markus Bishop, spiritual director of The Life Center in Panama City Beach.

Bishop described how he was transformed from a Pentecostal background and a 30-year traditional ministry to a totally different person who says “I don’t even call myself a Christian any more.”

Raised in Birmingham, AL, the sixth generation of his family in that area, Bishop attended Auburn University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham before graduating from Pentecostal Rhema Bible School. That very year—1981—he moved to Panama City. In 1982 he took over a small group of about 25 people called the Faith Christian Fellowship.

Eventually this congregation grew sizable and became Faith Christian Family Church. Bishop had a Sunday morning TV show for years during his 30 years as pastor. But in 2010 he began seeing the world, and himself, in a different light. He says he “heard the voice of the holy spirit,” but it was coming from within. He then went through a three-year period of self-examination that resulted in his leaving his church.

In January 2012 The Life Center was born, with Bishop as its founder and spiritual director. He describes it as a spiritual community that blends together all spiritual traditions and faiths, which honors the richness of diversity and the many paths to God. This personal transformation is what Bishop will talk about at the ECMS.

Bishop is married to Fany Rojas of Paraguay. He has two daughters and two stepchildren.

February 20, 2014 Ann Rector on "The Power of Touch"

“The Power of Touch” was the title of a talk given by Ann Rector, a medical massage practitioner in Destin for 11 years.

“Research shows that touch is the best way to comfort someone,” says Rector. “We have an innate ability to decode emotions via touch. And the quality of our health increases through the benefits of touch.”

Rector, who was born and raised in Bolton Conn., founded The Reach Institute in Destin two years ago. It features medical massage and kinesiology. Rector holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and teaching certification from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Since moving to Destin in 2002 she has practiced medical massage with certifications in pregnancy, oncology, stroke rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation, and orthopedic massage.

She has also been a kinesiology instructor at a local massage school for the past six years. Previously she taught middle-school health and physical education in Virginia and Georgia for several years.

And right after high school, she served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve, where she was a trainer on how to assemble and disassemble five military weapons, and rappelled out of helicopters. She was on active duty during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

A mother of three children, Rector currently enjoys amateur YOLO boarding

February 6, 2014 Mindy Broadstone on "Qigong for Heart Health"

“Qigong for Heart Health” is the title of a talk given by Mindy Broadstone, a Ft. Walton Beach healer who combines ancient and traditional healing practices.

Qigong (chee-gong) “is a great practice for opening the ribcage and shoulders while physically protecting the heart,” says Broadstone. “Gentle systematic movements of arms, shoulders, head, torso and hips open and move energy into the chest and heart.” She adds that it increases the circulation in the heart and lungs, keeping the upper body strong and energized. 

Broadstone has integrated holistic hands-on and mind-body integration practices such as qigong, meditation, breath practices, prayer, internal dialog, myofascial release and energy medicine into mainstream medicine. She has also combined these with traditional occupational therapy as well as massage and lymphedema therapy.

In addition she holds weekly qigong and energy classes and teaches energy medicine practices. 

Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Broadstone received her occupational therapy training at Cleveland State University, and moved to Navarre in 1999. She has worked at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, created the first lymphedema clinic there, and then worked at Gentiva Home health. She also had a private practice all along, titled Healing Therapies & Development, and two years ago went full-time private.

She also has traveled extensively--through Nepal, India, Tibet and Europe. She says the wisdom she has gained from other cultures, along with the honor of being a part of her clients’ physical, emotional and spiritual healing, has given her the opportunity to “witness the capacity of the human spirit to rise above adversity.” 

January 16, 2014 Colon hydrotherapy explained by Cindy Butler

“Colon Hydrotherapy: What Is It and Why do I need it?” was the title of a talk given by Cindy Butler, colon therapist, licensed massage therapist and aesthetician.

“When your toilet is backed up, it overflows into your house,” says Butler. “This is much the same way a sluggish colon affects our body. People need to learn what colon hydrotherapy is, how it's done, and the benefits of keeping their colon clean.” Butler has 15 years’ experience in colon hydrotherapy and is passionate about her work as she knows the difference it has made in the lives of many clients, as well as her own.

Butler was born and raised in the Houston area, where she owned her own business for 10 years. Having visited the Emerald Coast since the mid-80s she relocated here in 2005. She also had worked as a paralegal in a large Houston law firm. After losing a friend to cancer and losing her uncle in an accident, she began looking more closely at her own life and decided to do something she was passionate about.

Her personal journey with many health problems led her to seek out colon hydrotherapy. This, along with a better diet, made a significant improvement in her health so eventually she became a therapist and finally an instructor in colon hydrotherapy. In her opinion, cleansing the channels of elimination is fundamental to any improvement in health.

Butler lives in Destin and is the owner there of Skindeep Clinic, Centre for Wellness. She is a member of the International Association for Colon Therapists. In Angleton, Texas, she started the "Look Good, Feel Better" program, which benefits cancer survivors. She has one daughter, Bailey, age 13.

January 2, 2014 Al Drucker on 'Journey in Indian Spirituality'

“Reflections on My Journey in Indian Spirituality” was a talk by Al Drucker, who spent more than 40 years studying under and working with Sai Baba in India.

Drucker, who as a boy fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, came to America before the War. Immediately after high school he joined the U.S. armed forces and saw active duty in Korea and China. Under the GI Bill he did his undergraduate and graduate work in electrical engineering and physics.

After becoming a specialist on intercontinental ballistic missile systems, he became part of a team that technically managed all the U.S. nuclear missile programs (Thor, Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, etc.). He also served on various committees with NASA, the FAA and the National Academy of Sciences.

While in Washington, he became active in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, which led him to rethink his societal aspirations and shift his focus to more humanitarian pursuits. After lengthy study, he became an acupuncturist, homeopath, herbalist, gestalt therapist and rolfer.

He joined the staff of Esalen, a humanistic growth center in California, where he conducted a clinic utilizing natural healing modalities and taught a comprehensive course for health professionals on alternative systems of healing.

His life was saved in a mysterious way while flying a small plane in a massive storm. This experience led him to India. There a great spiritual leader, Sai Baba, spoke to him and, without prompting, related all the details of saving his life and told Al it was he who had called him to India.

Subsequently, Drucker made more than 30 trips to Sai Baba and finally stayed for nine years immersed in spiritual studies, while at the same time teaching classes on astrophysics and aerospace subjects at a nearby university. At the ashram he also gave talks on spiritual topics to hundreds of overseas visitors, and published a number of books. 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, Fla.

2013

December 21, 2013 "Sunrise Meditation"

Sunrise meditation was from 6:15-6:45 a.m. on the beach at the place where Seaside and WaterColor meet, where there's a handy parking lot on the north side of 30-A. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early and be all settled by 6:15 a.m. The Outer solstice was at 11:11 a.m. so there were global meditations.

December 19, 2013 "Ayurveda - Pathway to Wellness"

"Ayurveda - Pathway to Wellness" was the title of a talk by Nancy Gross, who has long experience in teaching people to manage their own state of wellness.

“The ancient science of Ayurveda provides a unique natural, prevention-oriented approach to health,” says Gross. “Over 70 percent of illnesses are preventable through lifestyle changes. I will share the time-tested Ayurveda lifestyle tools, including self-pulse diagnosis, knowing your dosha, and balancing your dosha through diet, exercise, meditation and other stress-reducing techniques.”

The central concept of Ayurvedic medicine is the theory that health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental bodily humors, or doshas, called vata, pitta and kapha.

Gross, who founded a business called ZIA Wellness, has combined more than 40 years of experience in the wellness field to create programs teaching anyone, regardless of their age, to manage their own physical, mental, spiritual and social wellness. She has studied Eastern mind-body-spirit philosophies and current integrated-medicine disciplines.

Gross holds a B.S. degree in food and nutrition from the University of Maine and an M.S. in food and nutrition from Boston University, with a minor in education. Her diverse career includes working as a registered dietician in medical centers, teaching nutrition and coordinating clinical experiences for Louisiana Tech University, and providing nutrition consultant services for schools, group homes, and more. She is certified to teach water-aerobics, yoga and worksite wellness, and is a Maharishi wellness consultant, as well as a level two reiki practitioner.

Gross and her husband have one daughter and moved to south Walton County three years ago, after several years as visitors.

December 5, 2013 "What Education Should Be"

“What Education Should Be” was the title of a talk given by Francois Benard, who now writes poetry after a long career in acting.

“What we're teaching in our public schools is uninteresting, it's pure memory, it does not educate, it has no real meaning,” Benard says. “We need to reconsider everything.”

Benard was born in Madagascar where his ancestors, part of the French royal family, went into exile two centuries ago to escape the French Revolution. After an idyllic childhood he moved to France to become an actor. He studied with Paris' foremost acting coach and at the Conservatory of Cinema, worked as artistic director for Club Med and learned photography. As a reporter, he met and then worked for artist Salvador Dali.

In 1973 his work led him to New York City where he became assistant to Broadway producer Joshua Logan, as well as working for a French news team. On his first date he met his wife-to-be, Jo Ann (a.k.a. Lee Warrick), a soap-opera star.

In 1976 they moved to Hollywood. Benard quickly landed a role opposite Rock Hudson in “Mac Millan” and his acting career took off. He starred in two TV mini-series and in the film “Hostage Flight” with Ned Beatty and an all-star cast. He guest-starred or played semi-regular roles on many shows.

In 1990 Benard moved to Colorado to become a writer and eventually focused on poetry. He has written more than 2,000 poems, which he reads at churches, schools, prisons and private events. He has recently published two books of poetry: “The Dream Of Life” and “The Thread Of Love.” He became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and now lives in south Walton County, where, he reports, the Benards are still happily married.

November 21, 2013 "Transcendental Meditation"

Prudence Farrow Bruns, a long-time meditation teacher, talked about “Transcendental Meditation” to a record crowd of over 50 people.

Bruns followed an early interest in meditation and yoga when, at age 18, she began to study transcendental meditation and studied with Swami Satchidananda to be a yoga instructor. In 1968, she went to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and was made a teacher of transcendental meditation. It was there that she met the Beatles and they wrote the song “Dear Prudence” about her.

After marrying Albert Bruns, a fellow TM teacher, and while raising a family, she began working in film as art department coordinator for Woody Allen, and as a producer. She is best known for originating and developing the feature film “Widow’s Peak,” starring her sister, Mia Farrow, Joan Plowright and Natasha Richardson.

After raising three children, she returned to school and, in 2007, received her Ph.D. degree in Sanskrit, from the University of California, Berkeley. She has published a book on Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis along with articles for academic journals and magazines on South Asian studies, world religion, Ayurvedic medicine and healthy living. She has given presentations at numerous conferences at universities such as Harvard, Texas, Hawaii, and California, and has taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers.

She founded the Dear Prudence Foundation in July 2012 to create scholarships for the programs of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She and her husband live in Seagrove Beach and have three children and four grandchildren.

November 16, 2013 "Sunrise Meditation"

Sunrise meditation was from 6-6:30 a.m. on the beach at the place where Seaside and WaterColor meet, where there's a handy parking lot on the north side of 30-A. The weather was good.

November 7, 2013 'How to Live to 100'

John Voss, a retired air force officer who has been studying longevity for the last several years, spoke on “How to Live to 100”.

In his talk, he addressed the results of recent studies relating to the major factors that impact longevity. These include genetics, and the environmental factors of diet, exercise, rejuvenation and attitude. Biological aspects of metabolism, cell replication, and epigenetics also was addressed.

Voss, who was born in New York City, served 27 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel at Eglin Air Force Base where he was director of contracting.

He negotiated numerous government contracts and was involved in more than 100 major contract source selections. He was considered an expert on the competitive procedures used by the federal government to award contracts. During his last assignment, as director of contracting for a major acquisition division, he managed a large contracting function that included more than 400 contracting professionals, with an estimated annual budget of over $2 billion.

After leaving the air force Voss became a consultant and educator, and is considered an expert on government contracting and procedures for competitive source selection. He also provides technical advice and assistance regarding the placement and management of contracts, protests, disputes, claims and litigation. He has taught seminars on “How to Win Government Contracts,” “Government Contract Law and Ethics,” and more. He has presented these courses throughout the U.S. and internationally.

He has taught at the University of Southern California, the University of West Florida, and other schools. He also teaches specialized courses for contractors, training companies and the federal government.

Voss earned a B.S. degree from New York University and an M.S. From Texas A&M University. He has two grown children with families and lives in Niceville.

October 19 and 20, 2013

SWCC Back to Nature Sunrise Meditation led by Nancy James. We came for this annual sitting right out at our Emerald Coast, greeted the dawning day with a 30-minute meditation on the beach. Everyone was welcome, whether you meditate on a regular basis or are a beginner. We met at 6:30 am on Saturday and Sunday on the beach, using beach access #30 (between Seaside and Watercolor). Instructions: A public parking lot is available just north of county road 30A. Bring your own chair or cushion. We will provide meditation instruction for beginners. Dress for cool weather. Pre-registration is not required and there is no cost for this event. Just come and celebrate the beginning of a beautiful day. Event cancelled if it is raining.

October 17, 2013 'Your Brain, Thoughts, Happiness' by Dr. John Savage, who has been practicing dentistry in Ebro along the Choctawhatchee River for 29 years. In his talk, Dr. Savage explored how your brain and your thoughts affect your chances for success, for happiness and for peace. Savage attempted to help people understand how their brain works, and how they can improve their lives by understanding the way it functions.

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 longed for the Choctawhatchee River. “The emotional appeal to return here never left me,” he says. Eventually his father and he bought parcels along the river, setting the stage for one of the most remote dental practices one could imagine. He has thrived in his specialty, which is cosmetic dentistry – or helping people have pretty smiles, as he puts it. Now in his 55th year of practicing dentistry, he also finds delight in speaking to audiences around the country on his philosophy, which includes trying to learn something new every single day. In 2008 he was a founder of the Destin Philosophical Society, which holds monthly meetings. Savage has one son, age 42.

October 03, 2013 What is life coaching all about? "Searching for Contentment" was the title of a talk by Dr. Mary Konovsky, a former professor and a life coach.

Dr. Konovsky explained what coaching is all about--and what it's not. She also delved into why someone might want a life coach and what that coach would actually do. And she compared coaching with meditation.

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 as Houston and New Orleans. In 2004 she received the Freeman School's Outstanding Service Award for her work from 1986-2004.

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 this summer, she is now working to build her coaching business. She and her husband live on the Bay in Santa Rosa Beach.

September 19, 2013 Mikael L'Andre, known to Seaside Farmer's Market-goers as The Greenman for all the fresh vegetables he brings to market, talked about “Life After the Fall”.

“The Fall” in the title refers to the fact that in June 2011 L'Andre was doing some work on a platform 24 feet high when he found himself lying on the ground, unable to move. “This was the beginning of my new life,” he says.

Doctors gave a grim diagnosis: he would probably be paraplegic. “They said it would take two years to find out if I would heal and to what level I would heal,” says L'Andre, who is 39.

A number of doctors who examined L'Andre “told me I should just be thankful to be alive, that I would never be able to walk again as I had before, and IF I did learn to walk I would surely never be able to jog or run.” He was sent home in a wheelchair on July 4, 2011, and told “to go to bed and rest and heal for 18 months.”

“I returned to earth with a healing inside which I was responsible for manifesting against all odds,” he says.

Anyone who sees the Greenman in action knows that two years later he is lithe, slender, and full of movement. He himself plants and harvests the crops he sells. How he healed himself was the subject of his talk.

A native of Walton County, he always loved gardening, having grown up in the country not far from the Alabama line. He attended a private school in Liberty, then was home-schooled from age 13 to 17. He once owned a business that offered landscaping and equipment services. He is married and has two children.

September 5, 2013 Pat Carlyle, a real estate broker and a Reiki master, spoke on "The Work of Byron Katie".

"Does your mind and your thinking sometimes get the best of you?" asks Carlyle. "The Work of Byron Katie is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the anger, fear, depression, addiction, and violence in the world," she says. She has studied The Work for seven years to become certified to offer it to others.

Carlyle, who has a master's degree in Organizational Development and Adult Education from Temple University, was the executive vice president of an international consulting firm with offices in 24 countries prior to moving to Santa Rosa Beach in 2002. Her area of specialization was executive education and strategic planning.

She has been meditating and following a spiritual path for over 40 years. She is also a yoga dance teacher and an outdoors woman. Most importantly she loves to share the things that made a profound difference in her path.

Carlyle says she believes wholeheartedly in living a balanced life. "I moved to the beach because I was a work-a-holic and was committed to changing my lifestyle. I took up Reiki, which is an ancient holistic healing technique, so I can weave together my coaching and counseling experience, my yoga dance and meditation practices, and my successful treatment of my own health challenges, to offer alternatives to my clients." Carlyle was born in Pittsburgh and moved here from Washington, D.C.

June 20, 2013 Dawn Dalili, a naturopathic physician and an eating-disorder coach, spoke on “Self-Esteem, Happiness and Health”. This was the last meeting of the summer.

“Having good self-esteem is the number one determinant of good health,” says Dalili, who discussed what good self-esteem is and isn't. “Having good self-esteem is all you need to cultivate the best health you've ever had,” she says. She also examined emotions and the role our beliefs about emotions play in our experience of health.
Dalili serves as a personal mentor, helping men and women overcome their weight and health challenges by exploring self-esteem and body image. She studied economics at Vanderbilt University, and rekindled her interest in medicine when she began to practice yoga while living in San Francisco.

Her love of body, health, and yoga led her to study at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona, where she holds a license to practice naturopathic medicine.

In Florida she is active in the Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association, dedicated to bringing the practice of naturopathic medicine to this state. Dalili has continued to explore ways of helping people create sustainable positive change and is now certified in the transformational coaching method and as an eating psychology coach. 

A native of New Orleans, Dalili attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville and also lived in San Francisco and Scottsdale. She has been living near her parents in Niceville for two years. She has an almost 4-year-old son, Everett.

June 6, 2013 Gayle Powers, a mediator and retired psychotherapist, spoke on "Using Mindfulness to Stay in the Present".

Says Powers, "In order to live in the present we need to be receptive to 'mindfulness.' This is something we cultivate with intention, which creates genuine curiosity and leads to awareness."

Powers retired from a private psychotherapy practice in Brentwood, Tenn., where she worked with adolescents and adults, primarily marriage counseling. Her mediation work was mainly with couples referred by the court over issues such as child custody.

Previously, at the Veterans Administration Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville, her work included domestic violence, anger management and PTSD patients. In an earlier position with Hospital Corporation of America, she was a trainer and did conflict resolution for their Employee Assistance Program.

She served as president of the Nashville Psychotherapy Institute and on its board of directors. She also was a lecturer at Vanderbilt University, conducted programs and workshops for the greater Nashville community and for the state of Tennessee, and developed a divorce adjustment series which she led several times a year for the community.

She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Kentucky and a master's degree in social work from the University of Tennessee. She and her husband retired in 2010 to Florida where they enjoy hiking, biking and sailing.

May 16, 2013 Dr. Sandy Frazer, a doctor of naturopathy and meditation student, spoke on "Insights From '12 Steps to a Compassionate Life,'" a book by Karen Armstrong.

Frazer says she first became aware of Armstrong when she discovered her 1993 bestselling "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam." Armstrong is a former Catholic nun who has written many books on religious topics, including the recent "Buddha."

A member of the Baha'i faith for 19 years, Frazer was drawn to the "12 Steps" book in which Armstrong shares her desire for the revival of "The Golden Rule," one of the commonalities within all major world religions. The Baha'i faith encourages finding and strengthening such commonalities.

Frazer holds a doctor of naturopathy degree from Clayton College as well as a master's in administrative science from Johns Hopkins and a bachelor's degree in health education from the University of Toledo.

May 2 , 2013

"Pursuing a Dream: A Journey to India's Maha Kumbha Mela 2013" was the title of a talk by Prudence Farrow Bruns, teacher of transcendental meditation.

Last winter Bruns was part of a film crew that went to India to film a festival that takes place for several weeks every 12 years, and attracts millions of visitors. She talked about this amazing event and some of her group's experiences there.

At the young age of 18 Bruns, the daughter of actress Maureen O'Sullivan and writer/director John Farrow, became interested in yoga and transcendental meditation, which she studied at UCLA. Two years later she went to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and was made a T.M. teacher. At that time her fellow meditators included the Beatles, who wrote the song “Dear Prudence” about her. Over the years Bruns studied with various noted Indian swamis.

From teaching T.M. in Manhattan and Boston in 1968, Bruns has continued to study and teach it in many places. She estimates she has taught T.M. to thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada.

Since 1980, Bruns has also been involved in various aspects of show business, including writing screenplays and producing movies. In 2007 she received her Ph.D. in South Asian Studies, Sanskrit, from the University of California, Berkeley. She has published a book on Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis along with articles on South Asian studies, world religions, Ayurvedic medicine and healthy living for academic journals and magazines. She founded the Dear Prudence Foundation in 2012 to create scholarships for the programs of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

In 1969 she married Albert Bruns, also a T.M. teacher. They raised three children and have four grandchildren, and now live in Seagrove Beach.

April 18, 2013 "Treasure Mapping Your Life" was the title of a talk by Glenda Wood, a real estate sales agent who also works at Gulf Coast State College as English Learning Manager.

Note the one-time change in location for this event: Nancy wrote: "Christ the King church has informed me it has a function taking place in the parish hall (where we usually meet) this Thursday night. So we will be moving to the John A. Horton Senior Center, on the same road (N. Hwy. 393) but very close to Hwy. 98. In fact any time you have gone to Christ the King, you undoubtedly passed it on your right. It's just past the Von Hoene law firm."

Wood's presentation was an interactive one on how to get the life you want. It dealt with choices as she asked: "See it to believe it, or believe it to see it?" Each person designed a small "treasure map." People were asked to bring a magazine to cut up.

A native of DeFuniak Springs, Wood says spending Sundays with her grandparents on their farm on what is now the Eglin AFB reservation, and going swimming in the Bay and Grayton Beach were a special part of her childhood. Both sides of her family have been Floridians since just after the Civil War.

Wood graduated from Okaloosa-Walton Junior College (now Northwest Florida State College) and earned a B.A. degree in Communication from Florida State University. She has worked for many organizations as a public information specialist and a director of public affairs, including three years in Guam and then in Washington, D.C., working for the Navy; and, after returning to Florida in 1980, for state government in the administrations of Lawton Chiles and Bob Graham.

In 1994 Wood formed her own consulting group, Capital PR, providing media, public affairs, and lobbying assistance to a variety of clients in Florida and nationally. Wood also owned a motivational training company, Success Seminars, offering motivation training and coaching to business and government clients. It was through workshops in personal development and motivation that Glenda become more aware of the choices we all have before us, if we are only able to believe that we do.

April 4, 2013 "A Rolfer's Story" was the title of a talk given April 4 to the Emerald Coast Meditation Society. Speaker was Nanette Savage, who has been doing this practice--manipulation of the body's connective tissue--for 20 years.

Savage told not only her own story of how she became a Rolfer but also the story of Ida Rolf who invented the practice. She also talked about some of the lasting results of Rolfing--or why someone might want to be Rolfed. She performs her practice in her Ft. Walton Beach home.

Rolfing, she says, is "a scientifically validated system of hands-on manipulation of the fascia," the body's connective tissue. In a sequence of 10 sessions, she moves the fascia "towards the symmetry and balance called for by the architecture of the body." The purpose is to help recipients achieve greater balance and mobility and relieve stress.

Savage, a 1992 graduate of the Rolf Institute, has been deeply involved in body work and meditation since earning her B.A. degree in 1984 from the University of Missouri. After receiving certification as a massage therapist, she broadened her understanding of the human body through studies in structural integration (Rolfing). These included courses in anatomy, psychology and kinesiology.

March 21, 2013 "Meditation On-the-Go" is the title of a talk given by Shantika Emker, an ordained Buddhist nun who studied in the Zen and Tibetan traditions.

Born and raised in Jackson, MS, Emker earned a B.S. degree in chemistry and mathematics from Jackson State University and began her career in nutritional chemistry. She later went into computer science.

But in the early 1970s, she says she "abandoned a promising career to begin Buddhist studies at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles." She says she had "too many questions...and I felt the Buddhist perspective could provide some answers." She was ordained as a nun and teacher in 1974.

After 10 years of practice and teaching in a monastery, Emker left the monastery and reentered the working world "with the intent to learn how Buddhist practices can be used on a moment-to-moment basis to enhance the quality of life for the average person as they go about fulfilling their life's responsibilities."

Emker says she thinks that many new practitioners "get lost in the rhetoric of ancient, foreign cultures and are discouraged by the many references to long, arduous practices that lead," years later, to "various vague Buddhist 'heavens.'" She will discuss ways people can "jump-start your practice and immediately gain experiences that will confirm the claims and benefits of meditation...and then begin to extend the initial experiences into everyday life."

March 7, 2013 "Encounters With the Eternal II" was the title of a talk given by Al Drucker, who also spoke to the group Jan. 17. He followed up with a description of a near-death experience.

Drucker, whose family fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, graduated from the Bronx High School of Science a year early, determined to join the U.S. armed forces before World War II was over. He saw active duty in Korea and China. After the war he did undergraduate and graduate work in electrical engineering and physics. After becoming a specialist on intercontinental ballistic missile systems, he was part of a team that managed all U.S. nuclear missile programs (Thor, Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, etc.). He also served on various committees with NASA, the FAA and the National Academy of Sciences.

While in Washington, he became active in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, which led him to rethink his societal aspirations and shift his focus to more humanitarian pursuits. After lengthy study, he became an acupuncturist, homeopath, herbalist, gestalt therapist and rolfer. He joined the staff of Esalen, a humanistic growth center in California, where he conducted a clinic utilizing natural healing modalities and taught a comprehensive course for health professionals on alternative systems of healing.

After having his life saved in a mysterious way, Drucker followed various clues that led him to India. There a great spiritual leader, Sai Baba, spoke to him and, without prompting, related all the details of the lifesaving experience, and told Al it was he who had called him to India. Subsequently, Drucker made more than 30 trips to Sai Baba's ashram and finally stayed for nine years immersed in spiritual studies, while at the same time teaching classes on astrophysics and aerospace subjects at a nearby university.

At the ashram he also gave talks on spiritual topics to hundreds of overseas visitors, and published a number of books. 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, Fla.

February 21, 2013 "Types of Energy Healing: How Energy Affects the Body in Positive and Negative Ways" was the title of a talk given by Kimberly Constance, a holistic health practitioner, reiki master, pranic healer and massage therapist.

Constance, who works at For the Health of It in Blue Mountain Beach, described how positive and negative energy can create healing or dis-ease in the body. She concentrated on reiki and pranic healing. She began her education in energy healing at the Holistic Life Institute in Oakdale, Cal., where she completed studies in holistic health, massage therapy and reiki. She also studied nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, herbal remedies, homeopathy, aromatherapy and more.

Reiki, she says, "is a spiritually guided life energy" with roots in Japan, where Dr. Mikao Usui started this healing practice in the early 1900's. "Reiki is best known for stress reduction and relaxation, which creates healing in the body," she says. She went on to study pranic healing, a type of energy healing created by Grand Master Choa Kok Sui, a Filipino of Chinese descent.

Constance also discussed other forms of energy healing and practices that people can incorporate into their daily healing rituals. See ECMS Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/136667963169277/

February 7, 2013 "Unity: A Unique Spiritual Path" was the title of a talk by the Rev. Darby Neptune, pastor of the Unity Church of Panama City.

Before becoming an ordained Unity minister, Darby Neptune was a successful business trainer and consultant. Her background in counseling, leadership development, team building and strategic planning helped prepare her for her role as a spiritual leader. She became the senior minister at Unity of Panama City in 2007.

From 2009 to 2012, Unity of Panama City was one of 10 pilot churches chosen to participate in the Transformation Experience with Unity Worldwide Ministries. As a result, the 10 have undergone significant changes in engaging more participation and development of leaders.

"Blending a variety of spiritual truths and practices, Unity offers a unique approach to creating a meaningful and abundant life," says Rev. Neptune. "Find out about this worldwide movement begun almost 150 years ago, Unity's core teachings and principles, and how its inclusive culture honors all paths to the Divine."

Neptune has recently had articles published in regional magazines. One article focuses on her passion for the new projected levels of consciousness that will help positively change both individuals and the world. Her personal mission is to facilitate transformation.

February 2, 2013 Sunrise meditation. , 6:15-6:45 am. See Facebook event for information.

January 17, 2013 “Encounters With the Eternal” was the title of a talk given by Al Drucker, who forsook a career in engineering and ballistic missiles to become a holistic health practitioner and teacher at Esalen Institute. He spent many years in India with his guru, Sai Baba, focusing on the nondual teachings of Vedanta, as well as the Course in Miracles and other spiritual paths.

Drucker came to America as a young Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science a year early, determined to join the U.S. armed forces before World War II was over. While he was too late for the war against the Nazis, he saw active duty in Korea and China.

After undergraduate and graduate work in electrical engineering and physics, he became a specialist on intercontinental ballistic missile systems, and part of a team that managed all U.S. nuclear missile programs (Thor, Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, etc.). He also served on various committees with NASA, the FAA and the National Academy of Sciences.

While in Washington, he became active in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, which led him to rethink his societal aspirations and shift his focus to more humanitarian pursuits. After lengthy study, he became an acupuncturist, homeopath, herbalist, gestalt therapist and rolfer. He joined the staff of Esalen, a humanistic growth center in California, where he conducted a clinic utilizing natural healing modalities and taught a comprehensive course for health professionals on alternative systems of healing.

After having his life saved in a mysterious way, Drucker followed various clues that led him on a metaphysical journey to India. There Sai Baba, a great spiritual leader, spoke to him and, without prompting, related all the details of the lifesaving experience, and told Al it was he who had called him to India. Subsequently, Drucker made more than 30 trips to Sai Baba’s ashram in India and finally stayed for nine years immersed in spiritual studies, while at the same time teaching classes on astrophysics and aerospace subjects at a nearby university, as a visiting professor.

At the ashram he also gave talks on spiritual topics to hundreds of overseas visitors, and published a number of books. 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, Fla.

Jan. 3, 2013 “Blue Sky Living!” was the title of a talk given by Terry Ingraham, a wellness life coach.

“We will delve into the meaning of ‘Blue Sky living’ as a group,” Ingraham said. “Blue Sky living demands an intensely curious, open approach to ourselves and our relationship with our world in a physical and mental way. The idea of limitations needs to be intentionally put aside in favor of absorbing the infinite power and endless possibilities that are ours for the taking.”

Ingraham, who last spoke to the ECMS in June 2012, has just returned from a 3-week trip to Canada with a focus on Nova Scotia, and says she was dazzled by the beauty of the natural terrain.

She has extensive experience in healthcare marketing, mind/body/spirit fitness, nutrition, writing and public speaking. As vice president of marketing and public advocacy for the American Heart Association for a decade, Terry championed Florida and national health issues such as “No smoking” legislation for public places and healthier eating programs for children.

She then turned her focus from crafting health policy to more hands-on help for people in need of guidance. “Optimal health is a great deal more than just trying a new food or exercise program by itself,” she says. As she customizes fitness and nutritional programs for people on all levels, her focus is on preventive wellness as well as rehabilitative healing. She is certified as a fitness and rehabilitation coach by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

2012

Dec. 22, 2012 Solstice Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat. Last in the series.

Dec. 21, 2012 Sunrise meditation, 6:15-6:45 am. See Facebook event for information.

Dec. 20, 2012 Caroling Geary presented a vision, acted it out with the group, shared a breathing visualization and encouraged people's own visions in a talk titled "Visions on the Night Before a New Era."

The evening was the first of three ECMS events surrounding the solstice, including a sunrise meditation on the beach near the WaterColor-Seaside border on Dec. 21, and a silent all-day retreat at the Coastal Branch Library on Dec. 22.

Geary says she paid attention to the 12/21/12 phenomenon for 15 years without much involvement until this year, when she unexpectedly entered a shamanic vision.

“Very real. Time dissolved,” she says. In 1981, following artistic visions, she had undertaken a trip to a remote area in the Peruvian Andes, found the site she was guided to, and completed her intended work there. Suddenly she was surrounded by eight farmers who seemed hostile, and she abruptly left. In her 2012 vision the eight reappeared in peace with a message. In the vision she was there in Peru and at the same time here in Florida now.

Geary led the ECMS group to reenact the vision and act on the message as an example of creative visualization. She encouraged participants to seek their own truth within.

In Minnesota, in 1954, Carol Lind (her birth name) wished to record exterior reality in art. In California, in 1967, she began to record what she saw with her eyes closed. She changed her name to Caroling. Honoring her intuition led her to guidance, spiritual healing and being open to visions (not hallucinations).

In 1980, having read "The Secret of the Andes," she was guided to go to Peru on a mission that initiated another big life change. “As if fully half my brain had been dormant,” she says, “it was now activated and I became interested in math, science, and especially everything about the computer industry.” She worked as an electronic technician, test equipment programmer and technical writer, in addition to continuing her mystic visions and art work.

Upon retiring in 1996, she has worked fulltime on her website wholeo.net, continuing after moving to Walton County in 2002. She enjoys daily yoga and walking, taking movies and photographs, and surfing the web.

December 6 Yaani Drucker, who has made more than 25 trips to India and a number of spiritual treks through the Himalayas, shared some of her experiences in a talk titled “Life’s Real Purpose: Awakening to the Truth.”

Drucker shared what led to her own awakening and how in that moment she realized that it was ego that conceals our true identity. “Using the power of our minds,” she says, “ego creates the illusion of separate existence, thereby seemingly shattering our oneness with all Reality.”

It is Drucker’s conviction that “nothing short of self-realization can give us the lasting peace and contentment we seek, while simultaneously rendering the greatest service to the planet.”

She has written a book titled “Not Guilty,” which is freely available on the Internet along with its associated course in enlightenment.

Drucker has a 30-year history with the late guru Sai Baba in India and has extensively studied “A Course in Miracles.” Born in San Diego, Cal., in 1956, Drucker was raised on a dairy farm in western Washington state. She graduated with a BA in psychology from Western Washington University and went on to do her post-grad studies at the John Bastyr School of Natural Medicine in Seattle. She has spent most of her adult life traveling to India on a quest for Truth. She is married to Al Drucker, with whom she lives in Wisconsin Dells, WI. They winter in Seagrove Beach.

November 15 Ted Henry, a former TV news reporter who now conducts video interviews with spiritually guided people all over the world, talked on “The All-consuming Pursuit of Spiritual Oneness.”

Henry and his wife, Jody Cleary, studied with holy man Sri Sathya Sai Baba for many years in India. A Cleveland TV journalist for 38 years, Henry also reported on various religions and wisdom traditions. After he met Jody in 1986, his interest in Sai Baba was ignited. Although Sai Baba died in 2011, the two will return to India shortly after Henry’s talk for a two-month visit to his ashram in the mountainous desert in the south of India. It will be their 15th trip to that country.

“Sai Baba says there is only one permissible addiction–the addiction to God,” says Henry, who pleads guilty to this addiction. Henry described the spiritual transformation of those who follow Sai Baba, the Eastern spiritual concept of nonduality, and what to expect when visiting one of the largest ashrams in the world. He also showed a short video that Jody wrote and produced about Sai Baba and his mission.

Henry spoke briefly about the hour-long interviews he and Jody conduct with spiritually guided people around the world—what he calls “the most important work of my life.” Nearly 200 interviews are posted on vimeo.com/souljourns, and receive weekly viewership in the thousands.

Henry was born and raised in Canton, Ohio, but spent most of his life in Cleveland. For two years he served in the Peace Corps in a tiny village in Paraguay. He earned a B.A. degree from Kent State University in 1968 and attended graduate school at Cleveland State University. He has two adult children, Joanna and Adam. He and Jody now live in Destin about half the time, with the rest of their time spent traveling or in India.

November 1 Michele Jorge, a yoga teacher with 15 years of holistic healthcare experience, invited us to “Balance Your Qi With Me.” Qi, also spelled chi, means life force.

Jorge taught what acupuncture is as well as explored the healing energy of hatha yoga. She suggested that those who attend bring a yoga mat if they can and wear comfortable clothing.

Jorge is a licensed acupuncturist as well as licensed massage therapist since 1997. Since 2007 she has been a licensed aesthetician. As a Level III Barkan Method Hot-Yoga teacher, she owns Sacred Space Hot Yoga, located in Dankel Plaza on Hwy. 98 in Santa Rosa Beach.

Her mission, she says, is “to support and encourage individuals to participate in their own health and well being while using ancient, drug-free medicinal practices to heal.” She offers acupuncture in a group setting at the yoga studio weekly.

Born and raised in Norwich, Conn., Jorge earned a degree in computer science at Thames Valley State Tech, followed by a four-year acupuncture degree from Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami. She attended several other schools to earn licenses in reiki and other holistic health practices. Previously, she presented to ECMS in May, 2010.

October 18 Dr. John Savage, who has been practicing dentistry along the Choctawhatchee River in Ebro for 28 years, spoke to the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on “Seven Universal Principles You Must Practice to Find Happiness.”

Dr. Savage was born and raised in Destin and has roots in this area from 1870. His great-grandfather was a dentist who traveled by horse and buggy to treat patients along the Choctawhatchee River in the late 1800s.

Savage earned a degree in dentistry from Emory University, and taught in the dental school while pursuing a B.A. in law. 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 longed for the Choctawhatchee River. “The emotional appeal to return here never left me,” he says. Eventually his father and he bought parcels along the river, setting the stage for one of the most remote dental practices anyone could imagine.

He has thrived in his specialty, which is cosmetic dentistry – or helping people have pretty smiles, as he puts it. Now in his 53rd year of practicing dentistry, he also finds delight in speaking to audiences around the country on his philosophy, which includes trying to learn something new every single day.

In 2008 he was a founder of the Destin Philosophical Society, which holds monthly meetings. Savage has one son, age 41, who lives in Atlanta.

October 4 “How I Came to Buddhism: a Spiritual Autobiography” was the title of a talk given by Susan Spencer of Sebastopol, CA., a long-time meditator and Buddhist student. Spencer began the practice of Zen Buddhism at Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul, Minn., in 1996. In 1998 she traveled to Green Gulch farm in Muir Beach, Cal., to do a three-month practice period there with Reb Anderson, senior teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center. Later that year she moved to San Francisco where she met her teacher, Darlene Cohen, and began to practice at San Francisco Zen Center. She continues her practice at Russian River zendo in Guerneville, Cal., and has done several periods of intensive practice at Green Gulch, city center and Tassajara. Located in Carmel Valley, Cal., Tassajara was the first Zen monastery in the west.

September 22 Equinox Silent All-day Meditation Retreat. (12th in series.)

September 20 "Being Gentle in Everyday Activities" was the title of a talk given by Marinella Monk, local physician and author of a book titled “Gentle Therapy.” The meeting was held at the residence of Robert and Marinella Monk in Santa Rosa Beach.

Dr. Monk’s book, she says, “is intended to elevate our life routines that at times can be stressful, boring, or mundane, to be happy and rewarding activities, more exciting, bringing more happiness and personal growth.” She has tried to bring together both scientific information and spiritual aspects of our lives, “as a harmonious blend of our physical and spiritual needs, as complex and evolved beings,” she writes. In a unique twist, for each chapter Dr. Monk suggests an original "therapy" consisting of a place to imagine visiting while listening to a specific piece of classical music that she describes.

Dr. Monk moved to the Emerald Coast in 2002 from Texas where she was medical director of the Houston Rehabilitation Institute for nine years. She practices medicine—primarily pain management—in the medical office building of Sacred Heart Hospital in Santa Rosa Beach. She is also the author of a book titled “You Are Not Alone.” She is originally from Paris, where she graduated from the University of Medicine in 1983. She married her husband, Robert Monk, from Birmingham, AL, in 1986 and they moved to the U.S. a few years later. Directions to the Monks’ home were given to meditators who indicated they wished to attend.

September 6, 2012 "Nutrition and Spirituality" was the title of a talk by Jenifer Kuntz, owner of Raw and Juicy, an organic juice bar and raw food cafe in Seaside, FL. Kuntz, who is a raw food chef and a yoga teacher, explained the importance of nutrition in a spiritual lifestyle. Since childhood, she says, she has been involved in alternative healing modalities. Continually fascinated by the body’s ability to heal itself when given the proper tools, she promotes wellness through balance in every facet of life.

She teaches raw food classes, an Ayurvedic Intensive with Prudence Bruns, PhD., and various food preparation courses in Florida’s Panhandle. She also co-hosts a retreat at Greybear Lodge in Tennessee each spring and fall. Kuntz, a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, lives in historic Pt. Washington in south Walton County.

June 23, 2012 Meditation retreat. See the schedule for the day-long silent events. (11th in series.)

June 21 "How does it get any better than this?" was the title of a talk given at the meeting after meditation. Speaker was Saramae Dalferes, a National Certified Counselor, Personal Coach and Mentor. This was its final meeting until September.

Dalferes discussed how she has learned to live by choice, not chance. “Each and every moment provides each and every one of us an opportunity to choose how we live,” she says. “The good news is that we can never get it all done and we can never get it wrong. We always have the opportunity to choose again.

“As life evolves and changes in one’s career, family, health, and relations, one can bob along like a cork on water or build a treasure chest of tools to help one navigate with focus and intention.”

In addition to her counseling, Dalferes is a reiki practitioner, an angel messenger and an artist. She has a B.A. in elementary education and an M.A. in student personnel services/counseling from The College of New Jersey. Her career in education at the elementary, middle and high school levels spanned over 33 years plus five years as a college consultant to high school students.

Dalferes also has co-led two Girl Scout troops and has held various leadership positions in professional teaching, counseling and volunteer organizations. Saramae and her husband, Bill Dalferes, have two daughters in their thirties. The couple moved from New Orleans to Seacrest, FL, in 2007.

June 17 - Sunrise meditation on the bay. Howls went up from the shore at sunrise. See video and photos on Google + ECMS page.

June 7 - “Fitness in Mind, Body and Spirit” was the title of a talk by Terry Ingraham, a wellness life coach. Ingraham led a discussion to explore simple, specific ways of recognizing and cultivating our own powerful life force. “We’ll have a rich opportunity to explore the details of what being fully alive really means,” she says.

Ingraham has extensive experience in healthcare marketing, mind/body/spirit fitness, nutrition, writing and public speaking. As vice president of marketing and public advocacy for the American Heart Association for a decade, Terry championed Florida and national health issues such as “No smoking” legislation for public places and healthier eating programs for children.

She says she was then “bitten by the healing-professional bug,” and turned her focus from crafting health policy to more hands-on help for people in need of guidance.

“Optimal health is a great deal more than just trying a new food or exercise program by itself,” says Ingraham. As she customizes fitness and nutritional programs for people on all levels, her focus is on preventive wellness as well as rehabilitative healing.

She herself has enjoyed a fully raw food plan for 10 years and uses her Pilates and yoga certifications to benefit her own daily practice. She is certified as fitness and rehabilitation coach by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

May 27, 2012 - Sunrise meditation started at 5:30 a.m. located at a private residence on the Bay. ECMS May 17, 2012 meeting

May 17, 2012 A change of scenery was in store for meditators who attended the May 17 meeting. The group was invited to the home of Dr. Marinella Monk and her husband, Robert Monk, in Driftwood Estates, south Walton County. The meeting started at 6:30 p.m. with a 30-minute meditation in an unusual setting. Meditators looked out onto Choctawhatchee Bay, sitting on benches on the Monks’ wide dock. Following the meditation period, the group was treated to flute music by Jimmi wZ as the sun set, followed by discussion and social hour with lavish food and drink hosted by the Monks, celebrating their 26th wedding aniversary. The ECMS was formed in March 2009 and thus is celebrating three years of existence. Click the small picture for a large version. Dr. Monk spoke on her first book, “You Are Not Alone,” in January 2012, and since then she and her husband have been regular attendees. She has also written a second book, “Gentle Therapy.” In 2002 Dr. Monk and Robert moved to Santa Rosa Beach where she practices medicine in the medical office building of Sacred Heart Hospital, specializing in pain management.

May 3, 2012 “Reflections on the Life of the Spirit” was the title of a talk given after meditation. Speakers were Drs. Ron and Sandy Frazer, longtime students of the Baha’i faith.

Their talk “explored the concept of life after death in the context of the Bahá'í writings, an Abrahamic religion that celebrates the common threads in all the great religions of the world,” explain the Frazers. “As God’s Word tells us, ‘I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve?’”

Bahá'ís believe that the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, is the latest in a series of universal messengers who are part of God's plan to elevate mankind to higher levels of civilization “until we achieve the Kingdom of God on Earth,” says Ron Frazer.

The Frazers have been studying the dozens of books that comprise the Baha’i Writings for two decades (Sandy) and three decades (Ron). From the Bahá'í perspective there is no conflict between the essential teachings of the great religions, say the Frazers. “They vary only in their social teachings and the man-made doctrines that have been added over the centuries.”

Sandy Frazer, a doctor of naturopathy, has five years of hospice experience in the Washington, D.C., area and four years of caring for the elderly on the Emerald Coast. Ron Frazer, whose doctorate is in natural health, is the author of “Healthier Happier Now,” a compilation of wellness articles, and three novels.

April 19, 2012 “Healing sounds…with Jimmi wZ” was the title of a presentation by James Wisniewski. Also known as Jimmi wZ, he is a long-time meditator, composer and musician, instructor, world traveler and maker of one-of-a-kind leather bags. He is recently back from several months of travel in Europe and Down Under, and told some stories from those adventures as well as played his flute and other instruments.

Jimmi first began meditating when he was 12 and has pursued meditation in various forms ever since. At 18 he put together his first flute and found he could play it instantly. He also plays piano, guitar and other instruments, and uses music to enhance the healing arts, including yoga, massage therapy and meditation.

Over the years he has studied with several flute masters, also studied voice, and has followed a career as a musician now in its third decade, with dozens of recordings. His latest creations echo ancient musicians as well as vibrations of the present, blending Oriental, Indian, Native American and South American sounds. He performs at healing arts centers, universities, churches, schools and festivals throughout the world. Jimmi wZ (James Wisniewski) is a return speaker.

April 05, 2012 Change of location for this evening only. It met at the John A. Horton Senior Center on Hwy. 393, Santa Rosa Beach, two-tenths of a mile north of Hwy. 98 on the east side of the road. “Living to Tell” is the title of a talk given by Laurie Beck, author of “Eight Little Lessons of Hope and Healing” after meditation. Beck, who designs Chi Bella jewelry and teaches Pilates, has written a memoir about the challenges of her life, including her recent experience in overcoming an “incurable” form of cancer, which is now in remission. Her talk explored that period of her life and lessons learned along the way. The memoir is due to be published soon, and “Eight Little Lessons” is a distillation of the lessons in pocket-sized format. Beck, who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, is married and has three sons.

April 01, 2012 Sunrise meditation at Eastern Lake beach access.

March 17, 2012 Meditation retreat. See the schedule for the day-long silent events. (10th in series.)

March 15, 2012 Anne Hornstein, who offers customized adventures for individuals and groups, lead the group in “A Taste of Brain Gym.”

“’A Taste of Brain Gym’ tunes up one’s meditation practice with simple movements that promote ease in the whole body system,” says Hornstein. Brain Gym, she explains, is a movement-based learning process that integrates the left and right hemispheres of the brain, to make it easier to do anything. “It’s known for enhancing activities such as reading, writing, math, spelling, test-taking, golf, staying focused, being organized, memory, comprehension, building self-esteem and many more. It can also make any practice easier and more balanced.” All ages may benefit, she says.

Hornstein, who has been a licensed Brain Gym consultant since 1989, guides adventures that empower individuals and groups, including corporate teams, athletes, artists and teachers, to access their own creative wisdom. In addition to Brain Gym, her adventure menu includes Labyrinth Lagniappe, Follow Your Heart Art, Glad Hatter Tea Parties, Matrix Energetics, Life Dancing, and Art and Drama Camps. She lives in Miramar Beach.

March 1, 2012 Deborah Merwin, an Isian Priestess, interfaith minister, and founder of the Isis of Philae Lyceum, was guest speaker, talking about “Spiritual Food for Thought.” A reporter from a local newspaper attended and interviewed Merwin.

“There are myriad ways to live a spiritual life and one of those ways is to be mindful that whatever we think, say, or do can have an impact on the world around us in ways we might least expect,” says Merwin. “In the process of becoming more self-aware we often discover new information that can change our view about familiar topics such as food.

“Because food is an essential part of daily living, all of us are constantly making choices about what we eat. Yet many caring, thoughtful people are clueless about how their food choices may be adversely affecting their health, the environment, and animal welfare. It is essential for us all to learn more about what is in our food, where it comes from, and who profits from the sales. This talk offered information about local organic food clubs, GMO's, seed confiscation, and factory farming.”

Merwin is a holistic health counselor, reiki practitioner and quantum biofeedback specialist who now offers “Quantum-wave Laser pain relief” sessions. She and a partner opened Destin’s Feelin’ Good Health Food Store in 1986, and she became director of the Feelin’ Good Wellness Center in 2006. She has been facilitating local spiritual drama groups for 25 years.

February 19, 2012 Sunrise meditation on the Seaside/Watercolor beach 6:15-6:45 a.m. We used the dune crossover at the spot where Seaside meets WaterColor. There is a big parking lot across the street (30-A). Since the sun rose behind the dunes and buildings we decided to change the location to probably the Eastern Lake beach access in the future, for a better view of the horizon.

February 16, 2012 Janet Bronstein, a senior teacher at the Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center, was the guest speaker, talking about “The Search for Contentment.” Bronstein’s talk focused on where and how people find contentment in their lives, and the role meditation can play in that process.

Bronstein has been a meditation instructor and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition since the early 1980s. She served as director of the Birmingham Shambhala Center 2006-2009, and has attended and staffed several international meditation programs. She is also on the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she teaches ethics in the School of Public Health. She previously presented on Oct. 21, 2010.

February 2, 2012 “You Are Not Alone” was the title of a talk given by Dr. Marinella Monk of Santa Rosa Beach, whose first book bears that name. “Dealing with life’s difficulties might be your opportunity to change for a better life,” she explains. Dr. Marinella, who primarily treats patients for pain management, grew up in Paris, daughter of a surgeon who was also an artist and art collector, and a mother who was an artist and musician. She says she lives by their legacy—and she also plays the harp, like her mother. In fact her first career was as a harpist for the Monte Carlo Symphony.

She had to give up the music, however, when she decided to study medicine, after she was married and had a child. Graduating from the University of Medicine in Paris in 1983, she continued with a fellowship in sports medicine/pain management. With a successful medical practice in Paris, she met her second husband, who was from Birmingham, AL, whom she married in 1986. After they moved to the United States Dr. Monk – who didn’t speak English at the time – quickly learned the language and eventually passed her board exams in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She then served as medical director of the Houston Rehabilitation Institute in Texas for nine years.

In 2002 Dr. Monk and her husband moved to Santa Rosa Beach where she practices medicine in the medical office building of Sacred Heart Hospital. In addition to “You Are Not Alone,” she has written a second book, “Gentle Therapy.”

January 29, 2012 Sunrise meditation on the Seaside/Watercolor beach from 6:15-6:45 a.m. See video.

January 19, 2012 “Tapping Into Your Healing Power” was the title of a talk given by Colleen Gay of Northfield, Minn. Colleen 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 talked about how to use tapping on acupressure points on the body to relieve a specific physical pain or illness, instill healthy habits, improve sleep, and infuse one’s daily spiritual practice with focused energy. She demonstrated the technique and taugh audience members how to do it on themselves. Gay and her husband formerly lived in south Walton County and now spend their winters there. Event website: https://www.facebook.com/events/217262335025888/

January 5, 2012 Dr. Diane Davis of Destin talked on the topic “Is Meditation Psychotherapy?” at the ECMS meeting.

“Many people know that meditation can help reduce stress by calming frazzled nerves and giving them a time-out from the pressures of life,” explains Davis. “But can there be other psychotherapeutic benefits of meditation?”

Davis answered that question by reviewing several psychotherapies used by psychologists and counselors: psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behavior, and person-centered. She compared the goals and outcomes of these therapies to the effects of meditation.

Davis, who has been meditating for over 20 years, holds a B.S. degree in math and education from the University of Cincinnati and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. She holds respecialization certification in clinical psychology from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, Springfield, IL.

She currently teaches psychotherapy and theories of personality at Park University in Parkville, MO. She is a professor emeritus of psychology at Oakton College, in Des Plaines, IL, and a past director with the Illinois Education Association.

2011

December 18, 2011   Sunrise meditation on the Seaside/Watercolor beach, started at 6:15 a.m. (Sunrise was at 6:34.) Nancy came up with a haiku:

We sat on the beach
Special moment
The sun came up
Nothing special

December 17, 2011   Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat for the December Solstice on Saturday, December 17. (9th in series.)

December 15, 2011   Dawn Brooks, a nurse and master yoga teacher in Panama City, talked on “Breathing: The Heart of Meditation.”

Brooks has been a registered nurse since 1984 and has practiced nursing in many different capacities. Most recently she has worked in outpatient care services in Panama City, working in surgery and with pain-management patients.

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 May of this year 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.

Brooks hails from Kansas, where she did her nurse’s training. Most of her classes are offered at the Yoga for You Studio on W. 23rd St., Panama City. She can be reached at presentmomentyoga@yahoo.com.

December 1, 2011  Meditation in Motion” was the title of a presentation by Barbara Rezmer. She explained chi gong, led some breathing and warmup exercises, and then took the group through one complete chi gong exercise. Upon request, she also demonstrated her tai chi practice. Download a PDF of the presentation.

Rezmer has been practicing chi gong and tai chi for more than a decade. She is a certified teacher of tai chi for arthritis, and currently teaches this at 9 a.m. Mondays at the Destin Library. 

She also is certified to teach the Eight Treasures: Energy Enhancement Chi Gong Exercises created by Dr. Maoshing Ni of California. He and his family founded the Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and he has appeared on the Dr. Oz show. He is the author of numerous books and videos on health. Rezmer, who has been practicing the Eight Treasures for over 10 years, teaches these movements at Shoreline Towers in Destin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

Rezmer and her husband lived in Shalimar, where they raised four children, from 1971 to 1993, when they moved to Destin.

November 24, 2011 6:00 a.m. Sunrise Meditation on the Seaside/Watercolor beach. See Facebook event for details.

November 17, 2011 Ken Roman, who has been studying and teaching the healing arts for more than 25 years, spoke on “Qigong, Meditation and the Energy Body." His presentation included some hands-on work.

Roman, who is a frequent speaker at The Center in Ft. Walton Beach, Destin and Crestview, began a meditation practice in 1973 with Dr. Deepak Chopra, a noted instructor and author. He also learned from Dr. Chopra a practice called primordial sound meditation. He teaches that and qigong plus body energy work, martial arts, hatha yoga and tai chi.

He holds a fourth-degree black belt in the martial arts and has studied tai chi for more than 10 years. He teaches from Pensacola to Panama City and facilitates workshops across the country.

On his website, kenromanyoga.com, he discusses the importance of meditation.  “(It) is one of the most powerful tools there is to help us restore the harmony within and to gain access to our bodies’ inner intelligence… we rediscover the silence in our mind and make it part of our life… Meditation is a journey to freedom and self-knowledge.”

He previously presented on March 17, 2011.

11-3-2011 “Letting Go Using the Ancient Art of Jin Shin Jyutsu” was the topic of a presentation on Thursday, Nov. 3. The talk and demonstration was given by Adele Leas, who has taught JSJ classes in many countries and is the author of Jin Shin Jyutsu for Your Animal Companion.

One of the basic truths of JSJ—a gentle, hands-on approach to harmonizing body, mind and spirit—is that we are never in disharmony because of what we lack but rather because of what we have not let go of, says Leas. She adds that harmony is accomplished through simple exercises combining conscious breathing and applying the hands to specific areas of the body where toxins and tensions are held.

JSJ uses 26 “safety energy locks” along energy pathways in our bodies. When a path becomes blocked, Leas says, “the resulting stagnation can disrupt the local area and eventually disharmonize the complete path of energy flow. Holding these energy locks in combination can bring balance to mind, body, and spirit.” It is a gentle art, she says, that “facilitates the reduction of everyday tension and stress.”

Leas discovered JSJ in 1989 when she experienced extreme disease and weakness, and learned how to heal herself with JSJ. She now divides her time between New Orleans and Destin.

She asks people to bring a blanket or sleeping bag to stretch out on. She previously presented to ECMS on 4/21/2011.

10-20-2011 Nancy James talked about a recent retreat she and 800 others attended with a world-renowned Vietnamese Zen Master. She called her talk, “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: My Five-Day Retreat With Thich Nhat Hanh.”

James began meditating in 1970 and in 1972 was a founding member of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. After earning a journalism degree in the 1950s from the University of Minnesota, she spent most of her career working in public relations, first for the university and then the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities Area. Retiring in 1991, she and her partner, Martin Duffy, moved to Seagrove Beach, in the area where they had vacationed for 10 years.

After serving with the Friends of the Coastal Branch Library, which raised $800,000 toward a new library, she became active in the South Walton Community Council, serving as president for two terms and helping start the group’s annual Back to Nature Festival.

In 2009 James sponsored a Zen Buddhist priest friend’s talk at the library on “How to Taste a Strawberry When a Tiger Is Chasing You.” This attracted more than 150 people, some of whom were interested in a regular meditation group. Thus the Emerald Coast Meditation Society was begun that spring.

10-6-2011 Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, also known as Swami J, talked on “Self-realization Through Meditation.”

Swami Jnaneshvara, who spontaneously began meditatiing and performing other yogic practices in early childhood, has been a student of the tradition of Himalayan masters since 1986 when initiated by Swami Rama, a world-renowned master yogi.

In 1993 Swami Rama ordained Swami Jnaneshvara as a monk in the Himalayan tradition and the order of Shankaracharya. Subsequently he spent years training in India with other master yogis and he returns to Rishikesh, India, twice yearly to lead three-week intensive meditation retreats.

Locally, Swami Jnaneshvara teaches meditation on a regular basis through Abhyasa Ashram in Ft. Walton Beach. Many teachings on meditation, as well as his calendar of activities, are on the ashram website at AbhyasaAshram.org and his personal website, SwamiJ.com.

He and his ashram are devoted to “training and nurturing those who deeply long for the direct experience of union with the eternal, pure center of consciousness, the bliss of being one with the absolute reality, as the wave that seeks to remember it is one with the ocean. One word for that union is 'yoga.'”

“Yoga is traditionally taught and practiced through a close relationship between the individual mentor and mentee, teacher and student, in a community of noble friends, known as kalyana-mitra. Guru is a force-field driven by grace, a stream of knowledge of direct experience which, though it may operate through a person, is itself not a person.”

Swami J was born in 1948 in Ohio, spent most of his youth in Florida, and has lived in several other states. He holds a B.S. in Management from FSU and an M.A. in Consciousness Studies, with emphasis in Transpersonal Psychology, from John F. Kennedy University in California.

09-25-11 Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat honoring the equinox September 23. (8th in series.)

09-22-11 "The Sacred Serpent and Her 7 Gates to Enlightenment" was the topic of a presentation by Deborah Merwin. Using crystal singing bowls, toning and story-telling, she explored the mystery of the life force within us known as kundalini and discussed the seven basic energy vortexes called chakras.

“Both the kundalini and the chakras influence the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our daily lives,” says Merwin. “When the kundalini and chakras are aligned and balanced consistently we experience good health and a sense of well-being.”

Deborah Merwin is an Isian Priestess, interfaith minister, and founder of the Isis of Philae Lyceum. She has been facilitating local spiritual drama groups for 25 years. She is also a holistic health counselor, reiki practitioner and quantum biofeedback specialist. She and a partner opened Destin’s Feelin’ Good Health Food Store in 1986, and she became director of the Feelin’ Good Wellness Center in 2006.

09-08-11 Meditative Art – Zen Ink Painting” was the topic. Caroling Geary of Wholeo.net discussed and demonstrated this ancient Chinese practice.

The group is meeting on the second and fourth Thursday in September, then will revert to its usual meeting days of first and third Thursday.

Geary told how she got into ink painting as a graduate student in art, writing an MFA thesis on the first Zen Buddhist painters. She then continued the practice as her artwork and meditation evolved.

Discussing the materials, process, mindset, culture, and goals of this art form leads to diving deeper to find the principles involved,” says Geary. “The basic relationship of simple ideas to meditation is the same whether the discipline is writing, music, yoga, martial art, flower arranging, archery or any creative endeavor, including math.”

To conclude the program, everyone will have a go with the brush, ink, and paper, getting a feel for it.

An artist, Geary has worked in the computer industry as an electronic technician and tech writer, and retired in 1996 to do web art. A lover of the outdoors, she is a friend of Deer Lake State Park, hikes, photographs, makes videos for the Florida Trail Association, and is becoming an expert on deer lichen. She is currently getting into high-definition video, and continues trying to communicate her visions. See notes for the talk at http://wholeo.net/Trips/Imagine/acts/ritual/meditativeArt/meditativeArt-ZenInkPainting.htm and related work at http://wholeo.net/Trips/Art/MN/ink/mnInks.htm.

06-18-11 Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat honoring the solstice June 21. (7th in series.)

06-16-11 “The Practice of Falun Dafa” was the topic presented after meditation. Adam Miller discussed and demonstrated this ancient practice similar to tai chi and qigong, often called Falun Gong. This will be the last ECMS meeting of the summer. Note there is a special event on June 18. The group will start up again in September.

“Falun Dafa is a high-level cultivation practice,” says Miller, “guided by the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It was passed down for generations from a single master to a single disciple. Then in 1992 Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced Falun Dafa to the public.” “Cultivation practice,” according to Miller, means continuously striving to better harmonize oneself through those three universal principles. “Practice” refers to the special exercises – five sets of easy-to-learn gentle movements and meditation. Practitioners “strive to cultivate their character and remove their attachments to become kinder, more honest and more patient people,” he said.

Miller, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from the University of Kansas, has practiced Falun Dafa since 2004. He had previously studied world religions and had practiced other systems. When he came upon Falun Dafa he was in search of a qigong practice. He says the five Falun Dafa exercises, as well as the enormous following of Falun Dafa in China, are what first hooked him. Miller will touch upon the current situation in China, where Falun Dafa practitioners have been brutally persecuted since 1999. He says, "There are no degrees, and no schooling is necessary. All types of people all over the world practice. You just have to have the heart for it." He now practices at the Gulfview Heights beach access in Blue Mountain Beach. He says if others become interested in practicing with him, he would be happy to work out a time and place that best fits everyone’s needs. Miller and his wife, Tracy, have a 3-year-old son, Solomon. He works in real estate in south Walton County, having moved from Kansas in 2009.

06-02-11 Instead of a speaker, participants took part in a group discussion about "How Meditation Has Changed My Life." Those attending brought their thoughts on that subject as well as readings on such topics as mindfulness, compassion, spiritual healing, a meditative practice, etc. The reading could be anything from a paragraph to a page long. In addition to personal testimony, some texts were read aloud and discussed.

05-19-11 “Reconnective Healing” was the topic of a presentation by Danielle Ekizian who described this recently discovered form of healing.

Reconnective healing, says Ekizian, is a new form of healing discovered around 20 years ago by Dr. Eric Pearl, a chiropractor. “He was given an axiotonal alignment,” she says, “which incorporates the transmission of light, information, and energy frequencies to elevate physical, spiritual and emotional functioning to optimal health.” Pearl wrote a book about it, “The Reconnection,” and it is currently practiced by some 60,000 people around the world.

Ekizian, who is a retired attorney and an ordained minister, has had a spiritual healing practice since 1982. A native of Boston, she worked her way through law school in Boston area hospitals. It later became her mission “to seek out the most effective alternative forms of healing to provide hope where traditional allopathic medical methods could not.”

She helped found and manage a charitable organization that has been providing therapeutic recreational therapy and education for disabled people for more than 20 years. In her nearly 10 years in the Florida Panhandle, she says she is excited to help introduce reconnective healing to this area. The method “has been widely tested by top scientists and proven to be consistently measurable and effective,” Ekizian says.

For more information, she recommends Dr. Pearl’s website, www.thereconnection.com. Especially interesting is the story of his introduction to this form of healing.

05-04-11 “The Mystery of the Labyrinth: Using Ancient Myth for Soul Searching and Self Discovery” was the topic. The speaker, Deborah Merwin, is an Isian Priestess, interfaith minister, and founder of the Isis of Philae Lyceum. She has been facilitating local spiritual drama groups for 25 years. She is also a holistic health counselor, reiki practitioner and quantum biofeedback specialist. She and a partner opened Destin’s Feelin’ Good Health Food Store in 1986, and she became director of the Feelin’ Good Wellness Center in 2006.

“For thousands of years the language of symbols has been taught in the esoteric Mystery Schools for the purpose of achieving spiritual insight and self awareness,” Merwin says. “The initiates study and enact both classic and modern mythology with the understanding that within every dramatic plot there is a deeper, richer meaning that the soul responds to. These spiritual symbols speak beyond the intellect and communicate directly to the heart.”

04-21-11 Adele Leas described and demonstrated Jin Shin Jyutsu. This “ancient art of harmonizing the life energy in the body,” in her words. JSJ, as Leas calls it, “brings balance to the body's energies, promoting optimal health and well-being, and facilitates our own profound healing capacity.” She calls it “a valuable complement to conventional healing methods, inducing relaxation and reducing the effects of stress.”

JSJ uses 26 “safety energy locks” along energy pathways in our bodies. When a path becomes blocked, Leas says, “the resulting stagnation can disrupt the local area and eventually disharmonize the complete path of energy flow. Holding these energy locks in combination can bring balance to mind, body, and spirit.” It is a gentle art, she says, that “facilitates the reduction of everyday tension and stress.”

Leas taught some of the basic JSJ principles, “to bring harmony into your body/mind/spirit,” to those who attended April 21. She asked people to bring a blanket or sleeping bag to stretch out on.

Leas has taught JSJ classes in the U.S. and many other countries and is the author of “Jin Shin Jyutsu for Your Animal Companion,” now in its fifth printing. She discovered this practice in 1989 when she experienced extreme disease and weakness, and learned how to heal herself with JSJ. She now divides her time between New Orleans and Destin.

04-07-11 “The Baha’i Faith, Unity in Diversity” was the title of a talk given at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on Thursday, April 7. Two long-time Baha’i practitioners, Drs. Ron and Sandy Frazer, were the speakers.

The Baha’i faith, say the Frazers, is the newest Abrahamic religion and the only one that celebrates the essential unity of all the world’s great religions. It says that the apparent differences came about simply from the social needs of the people and places to whom the various messages were given.

Baha’is believe that God is resurrecting mankind from its worldliness through thousands of groups in all religions around the world who celebrate the unity in human diversity and who work toward a world of cooperation and respect.

Sandy Frazer, who has been a Baha’i for 19 years, holds a doctor of naturopathy degree from Clayton College as well as a master’s in administrative science from Johns Hopkins and a backelor’s degree in health education from the University of Toledo. Ron Frazer, who holds a Ph.D. in natural health from Clayton University, has been a Baha’i for 32 years. He has undergraduate degrees in math and mechanical engineering from the University of the State of New York and Purdue University. For more information on the Baha’i faith, see www.bahai.org.

03-19-11 Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat honoring the equinox March 20. (6th in series.)

03-17-11 At the March 17 meeting, Ken Roman, who has been studying and teaching the healing arts for more than 25 years, demonstrated and taught qigong.

Roman, who is a frequent speaker at the Center for Non-Dualism in Ft. Walton Beach, began a meditation practice in 1973 with Dr. Deepak Chopra, a noted instructor and author. He also learned from Dr. Chopra a practice called primordial sound meditation. He teaches that and qigong plus body energy work, martial arts, hatha yoga and tai chi. He holds a fourth-degree black belt in the martial arts and has studied tai chi for more than 10 years. He teaches from Pensacola to Panama City and facilitates workshops across the country.

On his website, kenromanyoga.com, he discusses the importance of meditation. “(It) is one of the most powerful tools there is to help us restore the harmony within and to gain access to our bodies’ inner intelligence… we rediscover the silence in our mind and make it part of our life… Meditation is a journey to freedom and self-knowledge.”

03-03-11 “What Is Myofascial Release?” was the subject when Janet Hardy addressed the March 3 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society.

Hardy shared what she knows about the body's fascia and how it affects our overall body/mind health. She is a graduate of the Core Institute in Tallahassee and has been a Florida Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Caring Touch in Santa Rosa Beach for 17 years. She is also nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork.

In 1996 she became certified in neuromuscular therapy from the Academy of NeuroMuscular Therapies. To be able to offer another dimension to her work, she earned her first degree reiki in 1996, second degree in 1998, and in 2005 became a Reiki Master, enabling her to teach this energy technique.

In 2000, Hardy discovered myofascial release at a seminar given by John F. Barnes, P.T. This approach to bodywork opened up a new direction for her and, since then, she has completed eight of his myofascial seminars, including a Skill Enhancement Seminar where she spent a week training at his Treatment Center in Philadelphia.

02-17-11 “Beginning a Life in Zen” was the subject when Joen Snyder O’Neal addressed the Feb. 17 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society.

O’Neal is a Zen Buddhist priest who has been practicing and teaching for more than 40 years. She is the guiding teacher at the Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center in Minneapolis, which she co-founded along with her husband, Michael O’Neal.

She talked about what she calls “the wondrous beginnings” of her spiritual journey, which began in the late 1960s in Berkeley, CA. She also lived a year and a half at The Farm in Tennessee, where the first of her two daughters was born.

Her root Buddhist teacher was the late Dainin Katagiri Roshi of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. She has also done monastic practice with Thich Nhat Hanh, a noted Vietnamese Zen master with headquarters in France; with Achaan Sumedho in England, and with Narasaki Roshi in Japan.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in theater from Carnegie-Mellon University and did three years of graduate study in theater at the University of California, Berkeley. She had a career as a learning disability specialist working with disabled adults at the college level and above.

02-03-11 The program was a group discussion on “Everyday Zen”—or how to bring one’s meditation practice into daily life. Participants brought quotes or articles on this topic, as well as their personal experiences.

1-20-2011 James Allen of Ft. Walton Beach, who facilitates what he calls "heart circles" spoke. He told us what they are and why you might be interested.

According to Allen, "Heart Circle groups create an ongoing, enjoyable environment that supports each Circle member in awakening to unlimited creative capacities while connecting to others and to Life. While the Circle format can be adjusted to meet the needs of participants, the experience is one of a high-energy, uplifting circle of friends supporting each other in a journey of self-discovery to uncover one's true heart's desire."

For the past 12 years Allen has formed and facilitated small group events through the Unity Church in Atlanta's Conscious Living Circle program, Intenders Circles in Boulder, Col., and Heart Circles in Destin and Fort Walton Beach. He says his passion is helping provide "a place for friends to gather and explore together a path of self discovery."

Allen will discuss Circle history, formats and success stories. Heart Circles meet once a week for six weeks. He says benefits include an increased awareness of others and relationships, an awareness of being an important part of the whole, and an opportunity to identify and manifest personal desires through intention and the energetic support of Circle members.

Working with Swami J of Ft. Walton Beach and the Center for Non-Dualism, James studies Yoga philosophy, teaches Zumba Fitness, is a feng shui consultant, and facilitates Heart Circles. More about Heart Circles can be found at http://www.heartcirclenetwork.com

1-6-2011 “Rational Thinking and Meditation” was the subject of Dr. Rob Whitfield.

Whitfield, a psychologist, presented a brief overview of psychology from the time of Freud to current cognitive theories, and their relationship to Zen philosophy.

Whitfield holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Southern Illinois University, and earned a doctorate in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University. He also did a year’s internship in school psychology and additional coursework at the Alfred Adler Institute in Chicago.

He worked more than 30 years in school psychology and for 15 years as a member of the ancillary medical staff at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, in the Chicago area, conducting evaluations of patients in the adult psychiatric and geriatric units, and also in the adolescent and adult chemical dependency/substance abuse units. He and his wife, Gwen, have lived in Niceville since 2005.

2010

12-21-2010 Watched the eclipse of the full moon the night of the solstice on December 21, at fullest extent at 2:13 a.m. We saw part of the earth's shadow moving across the face of the moon from 2-2:30 or 1:30-3 or 12:30-4.

12-18-2010 Day-long Silent Meditation Retreat honoring the solstice (5th in series.)

12-16-2010 Robert Bartz and Joan Head discussed a special Vipassana teacher, Barbara Brodsky, with whom they have been studying since 1993. Their talk is titled “Meditating With an Amazing Woman.”

Bartz and Head, 10-year residents of Santa Rosa Beach, had been spiritual seekers for many years when they met Brodsky, of Ann Arbor, MI, who heads the DeepSpring Center for Meditation and Spiritual Inquiry. The purpose of the center is “to teach and support the deepening of awareness of non-dual reality and related issues through meditation.”

For several months each summer the couple attend Brodsky’s weekly talks as well as weekend and week-long retreats. Last year they were chosen, along with 16 other students, for a two-year deep spiritual program with Brodsky and other well-known spiritual leaders.

Bartz was a monk in a Trappist monastery near Dubuque, Iowa, for nine years, then a priest in the archdiocese of Youngstown, OH for six years. He taught college-level courses in theology and psychology for seven years. His profession was as a criminal psychologist in Detroit until he retired in 1992. He says “most of my adult life has been a search for a more humane alternative to traditional Christian spirituality/mysticism.”

Head was an elementary teacher and counselor in Michigan for 30 years, having earned a Specialist degree from the Michigan School of Professional Psychology. She has been meditating for over 30 years. The two talked about what Vipassana is, how they met Brodsky, and how she has changed their lives.

12-2-2010 Mindy Broadstone talked about qigong (chee-gong) and demonstrated some of its movements. She reviewed the history of this practice, which is similar to tai chi, and taught participants how to do some of the movements. Broadstone, who holds a BS degree from Cleveland State University, is an occupational therapist who also holds a certificate in massage therapy and is a certified lymphedema therapist. She is now a home health worker for Gentiva. For several years she worked at the Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center in occupational therapy following 18 years in that field in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She also does holistic health training and seminars, teaching patients and therapists how to work with the body to reduce stress. She is a longtime instructor of qigong and meditation. She describes qigong as "an ancient practice that translates to energy work. More than 30,000 forms have been documented, both quiet and active. We used focused attention, breath and movement to move energy through the pathways of the body to clear areas of restrictions that are distractions to meditation."

11-18-2010 “The Story of the Buddha and the Four Noble Truths” was presented by Felicia McQuaid at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Emerald Coast Meditation Society (ECMS). McQuaid shared the tale of the Buddha and his upbringing as Prince Siddhartha, into his first teachings on Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths. McQuaid has been teaching yoga for 10 years, meeting each individual where they are and challenging them to experience more. In addition she is a reiki master in the Usui and Karuna Reiki systems, working with clients and teaching reiki to others. She has recently become a massage therapist and is integrating this work into her practices and services. She has been studying Tibetan Buddhism since 2006. She is the mother of two and a director of the Center for NonDualism in Ft. Walton Beach.

11-04-2010 A group discussion of mindfulness was the focus when the Emerald Coast Meditation Society met on Nov. 4. People who attended brought articles, quotations and personal experiences related to the concept of mindfulness. Meditation is often believed to increase one’s awareness of immediate circumstances, state of mind, and actions--or mindfulness.

10-21-2010 Janet Bronstein, a senior teacher at the Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center, was guest speaker at the Emerald Coast Meditation Society on Oct. 21, talking about “Riding the Energy of Emotions in Meditation Practice.”

Bronstein has been a meditation instructor and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition since the early 1980s. She served as director of the Birmingham Shambhala Center 2006-2009, and has attended and staffed several international meditation programs. She is also on the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she teaches ethics in the School of Public Health.

Bronstein’s talk focused on how emotions can dominate us in obvious and subtle ways. “They sometimes feel like alien forces that take us over and cause us to think and do things that we find surprising,” she says. “Mindfulness meditation works with the energy of emotions directly, without suppressing feelings or acting them out. By taking a simple, neutral, straightforward approach, we create the space that allows us to experience emotions as channels of communication with the world.”

Following the talk and discussion, the evening concluded with a short guided meditation followed by posing for a group photo.

group photo 10-21-10
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