CHQ Mystic Heart Meditation Program
We serve Chautauquans by providing opportunities for the study and practice of meditation and contemplation practices drawn from many religions and wisdom traditions. We do not promote any one faith or path but practice in the spirit of inter-spirituality, introducing the essential truths and practices of many paths. Our mission is to help participants discover and manifest peace, compassion and kindness in themselves, their relations with others, and their communities.
We offer a full schedule of meditation practice sessions and classes throughout the Chautauqua summer season.
In 2024, we will offer:
- Morning sessions (Monday–Saturday) that allow participants to practice meditation under the guidance of experienced teachers.
- Morning sessions (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) Guided moving meditation.
- Afternoon sessions (Wednesdays) Therapeutic Gong meditation.
- Afternoon seminars (Tuesdays and Thursdays) that include a meditation practice presented by the guest meditation teacher of the week.
- Afternoon sessions (Sunday) “Church of the Wild” outdoor meditation.
Everyone is welcome. No prior experience is necessary, and newcomers will be comfortable in these sessions. No pre-registration is necessary, and no fees are charged.
If you have any questions, please contact Kim Hehr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2024 Guest Meditation Teachers of the Week
7:45–8:30 a.m. • Monday–Friday Morning Sessions • Presbyterian House Chapel
12:30–1:30 p.m. • Tuesday and Thursday Afternoon Seminars • Hall of Missions
Zen Buddhism with Venerable Jissai Prince-Cherry
Week One • June 22–29
Teacher Bio: Venerable Jissai Prince-Cherry began practicing Zen in 1994. Since then, she has maintained a daily personal practice and regularly participates in group sittings, intensive Zen meditation retreats, and periods of residential training including at a Zen monastery in Japan. She works closely with her teacher, Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, successor to Roshi Philip Kapleau, the founder of the Rochester Zen Center. With her teacher’s on-going guidance and support, Jissai began instructing others in Zen meditation in 1999. In 2022, she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and received the name “Jissai” (pronounced JEE-sigh), which means “true encounter.” Jissai is delighted to serve both the Rochester Zen Center and the Louisville Zen Center.
Theravāda Buddhism-Mindfulness Meditation with Bhante Chipamong Chowdhury
Week Two • June 29–July 6
Description: Theravāda Buddhism is the oldest of the three major living Buddhist traditions. Originating in South Asia, it later became the predominant religion of Southeast Asia. As it has also taken root in the West, Theravāda is no longer an Asian religion, but a transnational religion practiced by global spiritualists and health practitioners. The roots of Theravāda are preserved in the Pali canon. The fundamental teachings of Theravāda include spirituality, psychology, philosophy, ethics and monasticism. Mindfulness is the practice of intentional awareness that wakes us up from functioning on automatic pilot. It is an open and allowing attitude that includes all experience. When practicing mindfulness, one remains aware of what is happening here and now inside the mind and body. The art of mindfulness involves curiosity, kindness and even a sense of humor. With mindfulness we experience freedom in the body, heart, and mind. The wisdom of practice is simple: Remember that the Presence is always here.
Teacher Bio: Originally from Chittagong Hill Tracts (Bangladesh), Bhante (Chipamong Chowdhury) is a contemplative teacher, researcher, storyteller and monastic activist. He became a monk at the age of six and received traditional Buddhist education, monastic training and meditation in Sri Lanka and Myanmar (1998–2006). He also studied at the University of Toronto, Canada; Naropa University, Colorado; Arizona State University; and was a Fellow at Columbia University, New York. He taught courses on Contemporary Buddhism Universities in Europe and the U.S. He is a co-editor of the book Human Dignity: Practices, Discourses, and Transformations. His essays and writings have appeared in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Journal of Contemporary Buddhism, Buddhist Studies Review, and Journal of Religion and Popular Culture among other publications. Defining himself as a nomad monk or a global citizen, he travels extensively in North America, Europe and Asia, teaching nomad mindfulness, inner resources, active care and human dignity. Bringing his experience as a Theravāda/nomad monk in South and Southeast Asia, besides daily mindfulness meditation, Bhante will be offering various aspects of Theravāda Dhamma reflecting on empathy, hopes, loves, forgiveness, healings, emotional intimacy, anger and compassionate actions, among other topics.
Mahanaya Buddhism-Mindfulness Meditation with Sharon Wesoky
Week Three • July 6–13
Description: Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes how the meditative path can lead to awareness of our own suffering and that of others, connecting to our own fundamental wholeness as well as awakening compassion and wisdom. Meditation teaches us to return to the present moment, again and again, and through that process to become less attached to our own mental habits and concerns and to live with greater awareness and mental clarity. Essential to the Mahayana are the twin principles of compassion and wisdom. Both emphasize that turning toward difficulties can provide a door to this liberation, through greater care and love for oneself and others in the circumstances of our lives as they actually are in any given moment. Central to the Mahayana is the figure of the bodhisattva, someone or anyone who resolves to live through the principle of compassion to meet and embrace beings at the place of their suffering, and to seek to help in any way they can. It also embraces wisdom as a way of existing beyond the ego-self, to look at it but not linger, to hold it more lightly, and even perhaps to laugh at it. The Mahayana, or “Greater Vehicle,” came to being in India around the 1st century BCE and is now the dominant Buddhist school in East Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam. It thus encompasses both Tibetan and Zen Buddhism and so can feature both rich visual symbolism and spare meditative silence.
Teacher Bio: Sharon Wesoky has been practicing Buddhist meditation for over 15 years. Born and raised in a Reform Jewish tradition, she regards Buddhist practice as a way to connect with an open heart and to consider how spiritual practice can help address questions of daily meaning as well as social and political belonging across different faith traditions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from Brandeis University, a doctorate in government from Cornell University, and is Professor of Political Science at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching is centered on Chinese feminism and comparative political philosophy. She is the editor and chief translator of the recently-published Chinese Modernity and Socialist Feminist Theory, a collection of writings by contemporary Chinese feminist theorist Song Shaopeng. A Dharma student of Lodro Rinzler since 2014, Sharon has been a long-time member of his Buddhist Community and a graduate of his Mindfulness and Lovingkindness Teacher Trainings. Along with her husband, Jim Fitch, she has organized numerous retreats with Buddhist teachers for the Allegheny and Meadville communities and is also a discussion facilitator for the Ontario-based online group Community Meditation. Sharon is currently a student in the Buddhist Chaplaincy training program, class of 2025, at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a program that combines academic study, Zen Buddhist practice, and socially engaged activity. As part of this program, she is a chaplaincy intern at the Pennsylvania state women’s prison SCI-Cambridge Springs, where she has taught meditation and mindful communication to groups of inmates. Sharon looks forward to leading meditation at Chautauqua that is centered on the teachings and practices of Mahayana Buddhism, and emphasizes the cultivation of compassion and wisdom both on and off the cushion.
Jewish Mindfulness Meditation with Julie Newman
Week Four • July 13–20
Description: Using the methods of Vipassana/Insight meditation for “polishing the lens of the attention,” we will draw on the deep wisdom of Jewish texts, particularly the Psalms. We will practice meeting each moment with chesed v’emet, that is, meeting each moment with both lovingkindness and truth.
Teacher Bio: Cantor Julie Newman founded and serves as president of the Tiferet Project. Tiferet has been a source for Jewish spiritual practices in Pittsburgh such as twice weekly Jewish mindfulness meditation groups. She has been crafting and leading innovative Jewish worship services in the Pittsburgh area for 25 years. Passionate about heart-opening Jewish contemplative practices, she has been an active participant, worship leader, yoga teacher, and consultant with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality since 2004. She received Cantorial ordination and earned a Master of Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Boston in 2017. She is a member of the New Community Chevra Kadisha of Pittsburgh. Raised in Southern California, Julie originally came to Pittsburgh for graduate school where she received her MBA from the Tepper School of Business in 1982 and met her husband of 37 years, Bill Klingensmith, a third generation Chautauquan. They raised their kids, Jake (31) and Ben (25), in Pittsburgh where Julie and Bill still live with their rescued greyhound, Yogi.
Week Five • July 20–27
Teacher Bio: TBA
Hindu Meditation with David Gluck
Week Six • July 27–Aug. 3
Description: The meditation practices grounded in Hinduism came out of the rich culture of the Indus Valley and are woven into the very fabric of that culture. The practices of meditation (and the related practices of Yoga) pervade everyday Indian life and belief but also stand apart from strict Hinduism. They exist as philosophical disciplines and rigorous practices with the ultimate aim of pure transcendence or enlightenment. The emphasis of our week on Hindu Meditation is on experiential practice, as with all the Mystic Heart programs, rather than lecture or discourse. Instructions are given, we practice together, and we finish out each session with time for questions.
In our time together we will cover:
• Japa or the repetition of a mantra — a syllable, word or words repeated over and over to generate focus and stillness of the mind. Repetition will be both whispered (Upanshu) and silent (Manasik);
• Bija, the practice of experiencing the sensations associated with each chakra and using them to become aware of the subtle energetics and healing capacity of the body;
• Pranayama, or deep breath and energy practice, linked to meditation;
• Nada Yoga, or the use of sound to delve deeply into the energetics of the body; and
• Shushumna Nadi and breath: quiet meditation with visualization of the body’s central energy channel.
Teacher Bio: David Gluck began his study of meditation and yoga in 2001, with Jivamukti Yoga. He received accreditation as a certified yoga teacher in 2003, directly from Jivamukti founders, Sharon Gannon and David Life. Shortly thereafter, he began formal studies in the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, primarily under the tutelage of Douglas Veenhof, current resident teacher at B. Alan Wallace’s Center for Contemplative Research, Miyo Samten Ling, in Crestone, Colorado. In 2022, he became an accredited mindfulness teacher, studying with David Nichtern and the Dharma Moon community. David has taught classes, workshops, and teacher training both nationally and abroad. In 2013, David developed and led the Yoga Philosophy, Training and Certification course at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition, he served as faculty for the Yoga Sanctuary Teacher Training program as director of philosophy, from 2013 until 2017. In 2017, David transitioned to working with children. Currently, his dharma teaching consists of private sessions wherein he helps practitioners develop and deepen their practice, and his annual participation in Chautauqua’s Mystic Heart program. In addition to his work in the meditation world, David has worked consistently as a professional musician since 2001. Recent projects have seen him performing with electronic musician and composer Kip LaVie, and Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn W. Clarke. David has had the honor of receiving teachings from many tremendous teachers. Highlights include: Ram Dass, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Robert Thurman, Dharma Mitra, David Nichtern, B. Alan Wallace, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Geshe Michael Roach and Douglas Veenhof. He is grateful for the tremendous wisdom they have shared, and for all those who have guided him along the way.
Sufism with Kainat Norton and Muinuddin Smith
Week Seven • Aug. 3–10
Description: The word Sufi, often seen as derived from the Greek word Sophia, means wisdom. Sufism, called “the religion of the heart,” emphasizes the realization of wisdom and beauty in every dimension of life. Sufism is non-dogmatic, seeking to rise above the distinctions and differences that divide us. It is often recognized as the mystical dimension of Islam, but also has ancient roots connecting it to the light and truth found in all the world’s spiritual traditions. The Sufi recognizes life itself and nature as holy books, as sacred manuscripts offering clear guidance towards the essential Reality that transpires through existence. Sufi meditation practices help cultivate the heart, unfold the light of the soul, and clarify perception. We share meditations with light, sound, breath, movement and teaching stories including the Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz.
Teacher Bios: Kainat Felicia Norton and Muinuddin Charles Smith are senior Sufi teachers, retreat guides, and interfaith ministers within the Inayati Sufi Order. Together they founded and facilitate the Light of Guidance Center for Sufi Studies in New York City (NYC). Charles teaches leadership and sustainability studies at Hofstra University and Felicia teaches at the United Nations International School. They are married and live in NYC. Felicia has been touring the solo dance/theatre piece “NOOR,” depicting the life of Noor Inayat Khan, Sufi WWII heroine, in London, Edinburgh, UK, France, and NYC. Together Felicia and Charles co-authored the book, An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in Our World. Their book offers basic practices, poetry, and wisdom teachings from the Sufi tradition with the theme of joining inner cultivation and sacred ecology. They travel and offer retreats and workshops throughout the U.S., Canada, Asia and Europe.
Judaism/Kabbalah with Larry Terkel
Week Eight • Aug. 10–17
Description: The Torah contains many stories of mystical experiences, from visitations by angels to prophetic dreams and visions to wandering souls and reincarnation. The Talmud contains hints of a mystical school of thought that was taught only to the most advanced students. In the Middle Ages, many of these teachings were committed to writing in books like the Zohar. Like most aspects of Jewish belief, the area of mysticism is open to personal interpretation. Some traditional Jews take mysticism very seriously. Mysticism is an integral part of Chasidic Judaism and passages from Kabbalistic sources are routinely included in traditional prayer books. Other traditional Jews take mysticism with a grain of salt. One prominent Orthodox Jew, when introducing a speaker about Jewish mysticism, said, “it’s nonsense, but it’s Jewish nonsense, and the study of anything Jewish, even nonsense, is worthwhile.” The mystical school of thought came to be known as Kabbalah, meaning “to receive or accept tradition.” This body of wisdom has been developed over the centuries by people of many faiths and beliefs and its universal applicability gives the Kabbalah continued power and relevance today.
Teacher Bio: Larry Terkel, along with his wife Susan, founded The Spiritual Life Society, an inter-denominational center for spiritual and holistic studies, where he teaches yoga and meditation and gives weekly talks. As its licensed minister, Larry has officiated at over 2,000 weddings for couples of all faiths. He is also the founder of Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, Ohio. Larry and Susan are co-authors of the book, Small Change: It’s the LITTLE Things in Life That Make a BIG Difference! (Tarcher/Penguin) a finalist for the 2004 National Books for a Better Life Award.
Zen Buddhism with Dhara Kowal
Week Nine • Aug. 17–25
Teacher Bio: Sensei Dhara Kowal is co-director of the Rochester Zen Center, one of the oldest and largest Buddhist centers in the U.S. As a Zen teacher and priest, she provides spiritual guidance and training in integrating one’s meditation practice into daily life.
Weekly Events (Weeks One–Nine)
Centering Prayer with Carol McKiernan
7:15 a.m. • Saturdays • Hall of Philosophy
Description: Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to experience a divine presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer or meditation. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all practice and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive practice of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.
Teacher Bio: Carol McKiernan grew up at Chautauqua and says that her love of mystical practices began here on the grounds. She was formally introduced to meditation many years ago at an off-season yoga and meditation retreat led by Subagh Singh Khalsa and has been practicing Centering Prayer daily ever since. She has attended many seminars, workshops, and retreats offered by Contemplative Outreach, founded by the late Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist Monk who was instrumental in the creation of Centering Prayer. Carol practices Centering Prayer with weekly groups in Campus Ministry at Villanova University and at St. David’s Episcopal Church outside of Philadelphia. She has led and participated in many Centering Prayer workshops and groups in the areas surrounding her hometown of Philadelphia. She is a member of the Augustinian Affiliates, the lay order of the Augustinian Friars and volunteers for the Friars in the Villanova Province. Carol is a past board member and treasurer of the Chautauqua Catholic Community.
Therapeutic Gong Meditation with Kim Hehr
4:45–5:15 p.m. • Wednesdays • Hurlbut Church Sanctuary
Description: The vibration of the Gong strengthens the nervous system, generates healing energy, and helps to expand consciousness. Kim performs a weekly Therapeutic Gong Meditation, during the Chautauqua season, sometimes referred to as a “Gong Bath” a form of vibrational sound healing. The sound and the vibrations of the Gong can help to clear subconscious blocks and bring deep healing to the mind and body.
Teacher Bio: Kim Hehr is a lifelong Chautauquan and a certified level 2 teacher of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. She has been a yoga and meditation practitioner for 30 years and has been teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation for 25 years. A retired hospice nurse, she is presently the coordinator of the CHQ Mystic Heart Meditation Program. Kim specializes in healing addictive patterns through yogic technology. Passionate about teaching meditation, performing Gong Baths, and pranayama (breath work), her objective is to help others with their anxiety and everyday stress. Her goal is to facilitate bringing more peace and self-acceptance into people’s lives.
Movement and Meditation with Monte Thompson
8:15–8:45 a.m. • Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays • Hall of Missions Grove
Description: Movement and Meditation is easy, joyful and enlivening! It begins by simply standing, breathing, quieting the mind, and filling the body with breath. We then use gentle circular movements to help prepare for the day.
Teacher Bio: Monte Thompson was a professional dancer who also spent years as a restauranteur. His life was spent on his feet. Now retired, he is interested in continuing to be able to move easily and gracefully, while using breathing and stretching techniques to help quiet his mind and prepare him to face each day with purpose and joy.
“Church of the Wild” with Kriss Miller
4 p.m. • Sundays • Burgeson Nature Classroom
Description: Church of the Wild is a weekly gathering in the wild spaces of Chautauqua, born out of the 2022 Interfaith lecture by author Victoria Loorz, Wild Church Network co-founder and author of Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred. We invite you into intimate relationship with the lands, waters, plants, and animals with whom we share our world, by wandering among them. By actively engaging the more than human world and holding sacred our reciprocal existence, we build connection between all beings. In this gathering, there is space for you to actively reconnect to the sacred wild Earth and to re-member yourself in your place within the great circle of life. While many who attend may consider themselves spiritual but not religious, any faith or no faith, all are welcome, children included.
Teacher Bio: Kriss Young Miller and her husband Gary manage the Quaker House. Kriss graduated from Earlham School of Religion in 2022 with a master’s degree in peace and social transformation. Kriss is currently a student of Victoria Loorz in the Seminary of the Wild Earth at the Center for Wild Spirituality. She has completed Wild Church Leadership training and is deeply grateful for the opportunity to work to build connections with Chautauquans in the sacred wild.