Wonderful, cooler weather feels pretty great.
I‚Äôd love for you to meet one of my favorite people. We‚Äôve enjoyed sharing his news for many of our Corners.
Please welcome Dr. James Keolker, certified master meditation teacher.
Happily, we always enjoy very interesting conversations. Recently, Dr. Keolker shared with me the fact that, ‚Äú Meditation is a 2,500 year old mental discipline that modern science has validated to have many health benefits. Among these are lowered blood pressure, lowered heart rate, as well as releasing a number of neuro-chemicals that can result in a less-stressed, more positive frame of mind, heightened thinking and awareness, emotional steadiness, and general well-being. That‚Äôs a lot great return for a practice that takes as little time as a few minutes per day.‚ÄĚ
Rianda House Senior Center recently announced its Fall Meditation classes featuring Dr. James Keolker, now in his fourth year of leading Napa Valley‚Äôs only meditation classes specifically for seniors.
‚ÄúSo, how will these classes differ from your earlier ones?” I asked.
‚ÄúWell,, the series is built on that most asked question, ‚ÄėWhen is the best time to meditate?‚ÄĚ‚Äô James answered.
‚ÄúHow you start your day is really important, setting goals for a positive attitude, strategies for the challenges ahead, even planning a day of happiness can be achieved through meditation, so we‚Äôll be teaching classic breath meditation. We‚Äôre calling this class ‚ÄėThe Wisdom Of Morning Meditation‚Äô and will be held on Friday, Sept. 7:30 a.m.
But that‚Äôs not all. According to James there will soon follow “The Pleasures of Afternoon Meditation.”
“How does afternoon meditation differ?” I asked James.
‚ÄúPretty significantly,‚ÄĚ he replied. “We all reach a low-energy ebb mid afternoon, so we‚Äôll learn how to rebuild that energy by focusing on our higher emotions, such as loving-kindness, compassion for others, and how to value the remains of the day. We‚Äôll be doing centering and grounding exercises to re-awaken our joy and learn he benefits of mantra meditation. We‚Äôre calling this class ‘The Pleasures of Afternoon Meditation‚Äô and it will be offered on Friday, Sept. 14 at 9:30 a.m.‚ÄĚ
As we know, seniors often experience difficulty sleeping, so I asked James if meditation is a good idea before bed.
‚ÄúFunny you should ask,‚ÄĚ he smiled, ‚ÄúFor we are also offering a class called ‚ÄėThe Fulfillment of Evening Meditation.‚Äô How you finish the day is as important as how you begin, so we‚Äôll discuss our circadian rhythms (how and when we become sleepy), relaxing mindfulness exercises and learning calming body-scan meditation. These should help for a good night‚Äôs rest.‚ÄĚ
This final class in the series will be given on Friday, Sept. 21 at 9:30.‚ÄĚ
Dr. Keolker‚Äôs meditation classes are offered free of charge as a gift to the senior community and are held at the Rianda House Senior Education Center, 1475 Main St., St. Helena. Reservations are requested by calling (707) 963-8555.
I asked James how he became interested in meditation and he said he began some 45 years ago with transcendental meditation.
‚ÄúI was going through an emotionally stressed time and I fell into meditation like falling into a pool of clear water. It was so refreshing, so supportive.‚ÄĚ
TM as it was called was a popular mantra or sacred-word meditation.
But soon James found himself wanting more depth, he began years of study and practice, especially in mindfulness and Vipassana or insight meditation.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve had a master‚Äôs degree in teaching for several years, so I became additionally certified by the two-year program at the Mindfulness Teaching Institute headed by the well-known masters, Mark Coleman and Martin Alyward. That certification will now become international.‚ÄĚ
As a result, James has taught meditation studies at Spirit Rock Meditation. ‚ÄĚIt‚Äôs really rewarding for me, Center and Ratna Ling Retreat Center, among others.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really rewarding for me to teach seniors at this age of my life,” he added. “We all share the same concerns and stress of how to be happy and fulfilled, so I‚Äôm honored to be able to contribute in some way to helping those needs.‚ÄĚ
Thank you, James. You have helped so many of us to see the value in meditation.
Remember those dates and time. You‚Äôll be so glad you did.
Until next time, give the practice of meditation some serious consideration. You‚Äôll be very glad you did.