Category Archives: Yoga

‘Jesus Culture’ in the sand

Tony Soto, 21, and Bonnie Cambron, 19 try out a few yoga poses at Wrightsville Beach. Photo by Christine Moughamian

Christine Moughamian

By Blogger Christine Moughamian
One Yogini, Many Paths

On Tuesday (April 10), I went to the South Point at Wrightsville Beach.

I needed to take a long walk to the jetty. At a turn around the dunes, I noticed a young couple practicing what looked like a yoga posture. They were struggling in the sand, trying to tackle “The Crow,” a difficult arm balance, with both knees bent above the elbows.

I came closer, gave them tips on how to get in the pose and hold it. When they succeeded, I gave them two thumbs up and continued on.

Upon my return, half an hour later, they were still “playing Yogis” in the sand.

When the young woman stood up, I noticed her T-shirt. It read: “Jesus Culture.”

This Yogini thought it rather sweet for two young Christians to embrace yoga.

I asked them if they were practicing for a yoga class, but the young man said: “We’re just playing around.” His girlfriend said she’d taken only one yoga class before, “but that was a long time ago.” They didn’t even know the names of the postures they’d gotten into.

I told them: “Yoga teaches itself, just follow your breath and steady your gaze.” Then, I taught them another balance posture, “Tree Pose.”

Before I left, I took their photo. I asked their names, but no one had pen and paper. So I told them to write in the sand: “Tony Soto, 21” and “Bonnie Cambron, 19.”

What a serendipitous moment of “Jesus Culture” and yoga on the beach!

Tony Soto, 21, and Bonnie Cambron, 19, wrote their names in the sand. Photo by Christine Moughamian


Wilmington Med Mob plans sound bath for Sunday

A flash mob meditation gathered in front of the Federal Building on N. Water St in Wilmington Saturday, October 29, 2011. This was the first meditation organized by the group Medmob. Photo by Matt Born/


Usually, flash mobs are associated with a sudden group of people flooding a public square or even a library to play music or dance to Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller.”

But this weekend Greenfield Lake Park will host a flash mob of quiet meditators.

The Flash Mob Silent Meditation and Sound Bath will be at 11 a.m. Sunday (April 15) at Greenfield Lake Park (not the amphitheater) at 421 South, Burnett Boulevard.

“A large group of sitting meditators will exude an inner peace, strength, and happiness intended to brighten the day of every observer,” said Wilmington Med Mob’s web site. The mediation should be about an hour with about 10 minutes of “sound bath” or continuous Om meditation sounds. There will also live drumming and dancing at the conclusion of the event.

The group’s goal, according to its web site is “to expose the world to meditation through public display of meditation, to create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation and to come together as a global community to create and expand positive intention and action.”

Watch this video of a sound bath and meditation in Texas.


Amanda Greene: 910-520-3958 or on Twitter @WilmFAVS

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 34, The fountain of eternal bliss

A quote from Christine's date book from one of her favorite spiritual masters. Photo by Christine Moughamian

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

Today’s scripture turned this “brave Christian” back into a “brave Yogini.”

First, I read the words of Jesus as they applied to me, a woman:

I thought it especially important to change the gender since Jesus, sitting by a well, was talking to a woman.

“But whoever drinks of the water which I give her shall never thirst; but the same water which I give her shall become in her a well of water springing up to life everlasting.” (John 4:14).

Second, I remembered what Jesus meant when he said “I give”:

“My own peace I give you; not as the world gives, I give to you.” (John 14:27)

It was clear to me that Jesus gave his disciples nothing tangible or material. As a teacher, Christ gave them the teachings of Spirit, indwelling within everyone.

Third, I was reminded of an inspirational quote by one of my favorite spiritual masters, Paramahamsa Yogananda:

“The wellspring of undiluted joy of Spirit lies buried within your soul. Dig with the pickax of meditation until you discover it, and bathe in that fountain of eternal bliss.”

And so it passed that, sitting at the well of “life everlasting” in me, I also drank from “the fountain of eternal bliss.”

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 18, Tango with a prophet

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

Read scripture. Write post. Tango!

To stick with this schedule, I started my “brave Christian” prayer and meditation practice early this morning. I was tired but excited about taking a tango class at noon with my boyfriend.

After I read Isaiah, chapter 1, my mood went from love and joy to gloom


The Prophet Isaiah (Photo credit: Missional Volunteer) via Wikipedia

and doom.

– Isaiah 1:11

“Of what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? says the LORD.”

– Isaiah 1:13

“Bring no more vain offerings to me… I do not eat that which is obtained wrongfully, and taken by force.”

– Isaiah 1:15

“And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.”

The old prophet had a way with words.

By the time I finished reading Isaiah’s exhortation to Israel, I was overwhelmed. It seemed to me that everywhere I looked, I saw nations engaged in war, people worshiping the false idols of money, fame and material possessions.

“Didn’t the whole world turn the clock back 2,000 years?” I asked myself.

I couldn’t help but feeling like a little girl unable to enjoy her birthday cake because of all the starving children in the world.

I couldn’t distance myself from the intensity of the scripture. I couldn’t follow Sam Teague’s instructions to “Write out in less than fifty words how this passage applies to your life.”

I decided to sit in silent meditation, eyes gazing at the candle flame on my altar.

After a while, it came to me.

My job was not to fix the problems of the world. My job was to write out how the scriptures applied to my life right now. Before I could do that, I had to go on with my Saturday morning practice: Kundalini and Ashtanga yoga.

My body felt heavy, my mind cluttered. My stomach was growling.

I couldn’t imagine turning my body upside down in Downdog, let alone achieving lift-off to jump between postures. I considered skipping yoga to eat and write sooner.

“No, I’m not going to give in to temptation,” I told myself. “There’s always going to be another excuse. Breathe, move and let yoga do the rest.”

Breath by breath, I stirred myself out of inertia. Stretch by stretch, I stood up, turned my body upside down in Downdog. Still, lift-off seemed a far, remote possibility. I was about to rule out jumping through when I remembered yesterday’s scripture: “I will.”

“I will,” I said out loud. “Lift!”

With a breath in, I lifted my body off the floor and jumped through my arms. I landed lightly, then shouted with joy “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

And then, I knew.

I saw how the scriptures applied to my life.

Before I’d even started my practice this morning, I’d worshiped the false god of self-doubt and defeat. My hands were stained with the blood of hopes for a better world sacrificed on the altar of guilt.

From then on, I stayed focused on my breath. I finished my practice in a breeze. I felt light as a bubble, strong as a mountain.

Afterwards, I went back to Isaiah:

– Isaiah 1:16

“Wash yourselves clean.”

– Isaiah 1:17

“Learn to do good.”

Then I realized I had not even come to the selected scripture of the day, Isaiah 58:9:

“Then you shall call and the LORD shall answer you; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am.”

Tango Boca

Tango Boca. Image via Wikipedia

So in fifty words or less, this is what I write out about how this passage applies to my life:

“I believe in God the Good expressing through me today as dancing with my boyfriend.

I’ll even play prophet and make a prophecy: we’ll have fun with tango!”

My solution to family tragedy: Mindful Writing

By Contributor Jennifer Johnson

I began an in-depth exploration of various writing practices years ago following my mother’s suicide attempt.

I had studied a number of writing practices, but I hadn’t found one in which I could find an ease, a resting place.

So I created my own practice I call Mindful Writing based on a blend of

Writing illustration by Jennifer Johnson

my study and practice of Insight Meditation, various writing techniques and therapeutic writing.

Writing about my experience mindfully helped me to make order from the chaos and make meaning from the tragedy that had occurred in my family.

Mindful Writing involves the writer entering the practice with mindfulness meditation, listening to her/his thoughts and writing what she/he hears.

Unlike most practices that encourage the writer to write as quickly as possible, I encourage the writer to write slowly, so it becomes a mindfulness practice of being present with what arises in the writer’s thoughts in each passing moment.

The practice is most powerful when undertaken within the support of a facilitated group. I participated in a weekly facilitated writing group for a number of years similar, in some regards, to this practice. The very act of writing what wanted to have a voice within me and then reading it aloud in a group while receiving guidance and feedback from the facilitator provided an experience of learning to trust my own voice.

It offered a warm environment in which I could express anything that arose in me in response to my family’s tragedy and feel a sense of connectedness, belonging and acceptance by a group of fellow writers on the path.

Writer's desk illustration by Jennifer Johnson

Week by week, the writing helped me to transform the suffering in my experience and helped me to heal. The writing, along with my own mindfulness practice, was such a powerful experience I became passionate about creating a Mindful Writing technique, combining the two things most healing for me: Insight Meditation practice and a healing writing process.

This practice isn’t about building one’s writing craft. It’s about accessing the inner well of creative flow, learning to trust one’s authentic writing voice and healing.

In addition to my Mindful Writing: The Path to Creative Freedom workshop and daylong retreat, I offer an online therapeutic writing workshop called Mindful Writing for Transformation.

This transformative workshop provides an individual interaction with me in which beginning or experienced writers receive a text-based lesson weekly and then email me their writing for guidance and response. People come to this workshop in transition or dealing with suffering of some sort, such as anxiety, depression, grief or loss, war, accident, abuse-related trauma, stress or illness.

Participants learn mindfulness skills for managing the difficult emotions related to the painful events, and through their writing, they begin to transform the suffering.

With a mindful approach to writing, we can heal this world one story at a time.

My next Mindful Writing for Transformation online six-week workshop is March 23 – April 27, 2012. Cost is $125. Please email to register.

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 14, Physics Catches up with Metaphysics

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

What do 100 monkeys, two disciples and one meditator have in common?

Even if you’re not good at math, you may find the

"The Exhortation to the Apostles" by artist James Joseph Jacques Tissot from The Brooklyn Museum. Image via Wikipedia.

answer in Matthew 18:19 where Jesus tells his disciples:

“Again I say to you that if two of you are worthy on earth, anything that they would ask will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Sam Teague’s selection for today’s meditation resonated with me. It brought back references to “The Hundredth Monkey” story and the “One Percent” study I was familiar with.

The next verse tied it all together:

“For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”


The story of “The Hundredth Monkey” was made popular in the USA when Ken Keyes used it as a title and opening to his 1984 book on social change.

Macaca monkeys in the Jigokudani Hotspring in Nagano, Japan. Image via Wikipedia.

In 1952, on the island of Koshima, Japanese scientists observed a change in the behavior of wild Macaca monkeys. It all began with a dirt-sensitive 18-month-old female. Unlike the other monkeys, she washed her sandy sweet potato in water before eating it.

A social trend was born.

By 1958, when the hundredth monkey adopted the trend, the behavioral change spread across the water to affect monkeys on other islands and even on the mainland.

Keyes concluded: “The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough.” Keyes used this “Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon” to propose that “When a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.” (Bold words are in the original text)

Although the “Hundredth Monkey” story was later criticized, the point it made was validated by subsequent scientific studies of – not monkeys – but HUMAN behavior.

When critical mass is reached, behavior is modified across distance.


In the 1970’s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a colorful Hindu master, talked

An early morning group meditation in Sri Lanka in 2005. Image via Wikipedia.

about the practical benefits gained from having a critical mass of the population engaged in regular meditation.

“Through Transcendental Meditation, the human brain can experience that level of intelligence which is an ocean of all knowledge, energy, intelligence, and bliss.”

He said that one percent of the population would have an impact on themselves and the people around them, but also “on the collective consciousness of the society.”

He predicted that “practicing Transcendental Meditation would result in reduced violence in the community and increased positive, cooperative behavior.”

It wasn’t too long before the master’s predictions came true.


John Davies, an internationally recognized expert in conflict management at the University of Maryland, conducted an experiment during the 1983-85 Israeli-Lebanon war.

In an interview titled “The Real War on Terror” published in June/July 2005 Yoga International, Davies said they brought “a group of more than 200 experienced meditators to Jerusalem from all over the world who were trained in the Transcendental Meditation tradition.”

Results showed the level of violence in Lebanon went “down by 40 to 80 percent on average.” They were “replicated seven times from 1983 to 1985 with seven different groups of meditators.”

Davies states “the quantitative 66 percent increase in cooperation into real-world terms indicates a huge change, resulting in major breakthroughs for peace.”

Based on this and other scientific studies, a group of meditators called “When One Percent” formed in Raleigh to promote meditation for peace. Their site says “This internal peace comes about through coherence of mind, heart, emotions and body. Research shows that when one percent is coherent, the effect ripples through the whole community.”


In his 2005 interview, Davies put this spiritual truth in scientific terms:

“When the unified field from which all phenomenal fields emerge is in its ground state, by definition, there is no distance between the observer and the observed.”

Isn’t that what the Yogis experience as “union” and Christians call God?

Two thousand years after Christ’s message, physics catches up with metaphysics.

And it’s no “monkey business!”

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 3, Meditation

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

You’d think my first couple of days as one brave Christian would have unfolded in divine harmony: set intention, pray and meditate, write post and cruise control.



Day One was mostly spent trying to remain gracious on two hours of sleep.

Day Two slipped away from me between errands and appointments.

Day Three: all of the above?

No way!

It’s taken me years of assiduous discipline to practice yoga first thing in the morning; then sit and meditate for a few minutes. After two failed attempts at observing Sam Teague’s meditation time between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., I have to admit the obvious. Today, that last discipline will have to come, well, last.

Photos of Brown-headed Nuthatch. Photo by Jim Downer

Upon awakening this morning, I listened to my motivational tape, then practiced one hour of Kundalini Yoga, meditated for a few minutes, had breakfast, showered, checked my e-mails and oh yes, lovingly interacted with my boyfriend who’d already counted nine bird species in our front and back yards.

Which explains why it was 11:26 a.m. when I finally got to meditate as one brave Christian. I pick up my Bible to find an appropriate scripture. But I don’t even need to open it. As soon as I hold my Bible in my hands, I hear quite clearly:

“Be still and know that I am” from Psalm 46.

I light the candle on my altar, sit cross-legged on the floor and affirm out loud Unity’s Prayer for Protection:

The light of God surrounds us,

The love of God enfolds us,

The power of God protects us,

The presence of God watches over us.

Wherever we are, God is

And all is well.


Then I read Psalm 46. The old English of the King James Version gives it a quality both raw and immediate. I’m particularly taken with Psalm 46:3-4:

“Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof

Shall make glad the city of God,

The holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”

On my spiritual path, I encountered Bible study after I’d already read

Three translations: Bhagavad Gita As It Is, a ...

Three translations of the Bhagavad Gita. Image via Wikipedia

the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras and been educated about the Chakra system. I cannot help but hear those two biblical verses in a metaphysical context, which I would translate as follows:

“Though the waters of my emotions may be troubled,

Though the mountain foundation of my existence may shake,

There is a current of Divine Energy

Which shall brighten the Crown Chakra with Divine Bliss.”

In the same way, verse 10, “Be still and know that I am God” means to me:

“Meditate and know that I am God in you, as you.”

When I am done reading and studying Psalm 46, I prepare for meditation. I focus my gaze on the candle flame and repeat internally “Be still and know that I am.”

Immediately, I feel a sense of peace settle down in me. My breathing slows down, thinking disappears. When I check the time, nine minutes have elapsed. I turn my gaze back to the candle and meditate some more.

After my practice, it’s time to write.

I can tell I will benefit from daily prayer, scripture study and meditation, both as a person and a writer.

Later this afternoon, I’ll interview Stowe Dailey Shockey, whose book “Flying High” introduced me to Sam Teague and his “Ten Brave Christians” experiment. I make a mental note to ask her how she fared with the early morning meditation requirement.

Do you engage in a regular prayer and meditation practice? And if so, what kind of schedule seems to work best for you?

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 1, Diary of a Sleepwalker

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

10:30 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 21)

I go to bed excited to begin my “One Brave Christian Experiment.” I call Silent Unity, our 24/7 telephone prayer service.

First, I offer blessings of gratitude for answered prayer. Second, I ask for a prayer of support for my Lent experiment. Then, I turn off my cell phone, smile in the dark and wait for sleep.

And wait. And wait some more.

11:52 p.m.

Words scroll by, at the edge of consciousness.

“Christian… Christ-ian… put Christ back in Christian… Christine…”

Strange, I was raised in a non-religious family; yet given a name which means “anointed by Christ.” I wrote a poem titled “I am a Christian also,” and a Buddhist also and a Taoist and a Sufi. Yet, in observance of Lent this year, I challenge myself to be one brave Christian.

I wish I could fall asleep.

DAY ONE: Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22)

1:07 a.m.

I get up, have a toasted waffle and a cup of hot linden tea, which usually makes me feel sleepy. But not now. “What if I go to sleep and don’t wake up at 5:30 a.m. for prayer and meditation?”

I can’t miss my first discipline.

I pick up my book, finish reading it right there, in my robe, standing at the counter in the kitchen, aided only by a flashlight. Maybe I’ll start feeling goosebumps and be inspired to write non-stop for 20 minutes, like Sam Teague. That’s how he created “The Ten Brave Christians experiment” in March 1965, from material he felt was practically “dictated” to him by God.

2:14 a.m.

I go back to bed, hum “OM” in an effort to make myself sleep.

“OM, OMmmmm.”

Similar to the Christian “Amen,” “OM” is the seed mantra from which all other sounds come. After they chant “OM,” it is not uncommon for people to hear a vibration within.

I often do, like the soft purring of a generator. But not tonight.

I chant “OM” because I believe it is but one of the thousand names of God. But it is not my sleep mantra. Not tonight.

5:28 a.m.

I’m going upstairs to pray, meditate and write goals.

I will not miss my first discipline.

I strike a match to light the candle on my altar. But the match breaks. And so does my resolve to sit up for half an hour. Sam Teague did not say one had to be seated to pray and meditate.

Good. Draped in my robe, I grab my yoga relaxation blanket, my Krishna meditation pillow and lie down on the carpet.

I haven’t received Sam Teague’s practice booklet in the mail yet. So I don’t know the first scripture to meditate on. The question “Which scripture?” barely forms in my mind. The answer comes on its own.

“I am that I am.”

I internally repeat “I am that I am,” vaguely wonder what goal I could write down first (sleep?), then merge with the Presence, the Great I AM.

6:59 a.m.

I wake up – so it is true, I did fall asleep – eventually. I wash up and put on my yoga clothes. Yoga is usually the first thing I do in the morning. But today, yoga can wait. First, I complete my diary entry. I clean up, then I’ll declutter my desk, my mind.

And prepare sacred ground.

Today is Ash Wednesday. My Lent experiment has begun.

What will I pray for, meditate on, set goals for? And what will you, on this first day of Lent?

Is mindfulness spiritual or secular or yoga? Yes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Contributor Jennifer Johnson

Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgment. It involves slowing down and focusing the attention on the body, feelings and mind.

It is an invitation to be in the present moment with our sensations, thoughts and feelings and to acknowledge them, without judging them as good, bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Maintaining attention on the present moment prevents us from becoming lost in regret about the past and worried about the future, thus allowing us to experience a state of calm and peace.

Mindfulness meditation is most often associated with Vipassana, or Insight meditation. Its origins can be traced back to the Siddharta

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Image of Buddha via Wikipedia

Gautama, a prince who taught 2,500 years ago. He said meditation was a path to enlightenment, the alleviation of suffering and ignorance. After his own experience of enlightenment, Siddharta Gautama became known as the Buddha, a title that means “one who is awake.”

Contrary to the beliefs of some, those who practice mindfulness meditation are not worshiping Buddha as a god but are following a spiritual path toward enlightenment and the alleviation of suffering and ignorance. Persons of all religious faiths can practice mindfulness meditation, and people find it complements their own religious practices and beliefs.

For a number of years, scientists have utilized modern medical technology to study the brains of Buddhist monks. They found increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex of experienced Buddhist practitioners. This area of the brain is associated with empathy and happiness or pleasant feelings. Studies also documented changes in brain wave activity, with increased brain waves that produce calm and peacefulness.

Mindfulness meditation has become a common practice in America, both as a spiritual practice and a secular practice. Many yoga studios across the country offer classes in mindfulness meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course at University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 as a secular practice to alleviate suffering among patients in the hospital. The program is offered at hundreds of locations internationally, including Duke Integrative Medicine and Stanford Hospital and Medical Schoolin Durham, N.C. MBSR teaches meditation and gentle yoga for stress reduction and cultivating a sense of peace and ease.

MBSR has been well researched during the past several decades and has been shown to reduce anxiety, panic and depression. The practice can relieve symptoms related to a variety of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, headache, fibromyalgia, Diabetes Type I, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and more.

Whether practiced in a spiritual or secular way, mindfulness meditators are generally interested in alleviating suffering, and most report increased feelings of peace, ease and wellbeing.

An eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course will be offered in Wilmington at McKay Healing Arts on Thursdays, Feb. 2 – March 29 with a day of mindfulness from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.  on Sunday, March 18.

Jennifer Johnson is the instructor for the course. For additional information, visit and to register email or call 910-208-0518. Also watch for Jennifer’s upcoming weekly class on Meditation and Gentle Yoga at Organic Yoga in Wilmington.

What to expect in 2012 from Religion News Wilmington

Dear readers,

Thank you for reading Religion News Wilmington in 2011!

In 2011 we gave you:

  • Non-sectarian news of faith issues through the winter holiday seasons
  • 15 community contributors on many areas of faith including Catholicism, Judaism, evangelical Christianity, Humanism, world faiths and more

But hold on to your seats, folks, because 2012 is going to bring amazing things to this venture.

In 2012, get ready for:

  • A spiffy new magazine-slick site launching in the spring (our national template from Religion News LLC) with daily quotes, featured stories and bloggers, a community religion calendar, community church/faith organization listings, opportunities to advertise, fund-raising events and so much more!
  • At least 30 community contributors writing about the faith issues and intersections of public life and religion today
  • More media partnerships in radio, online and more
  • More local faith news (I hope to get to write much more frequently as the new site launches.)
  • A community speakers bureau. Need an interesting speaker about the faith news of today for your next community organization meeting? Call on Religion News Wilmington.
  • More multimedia slideshows and locally-produced videos of faith events and views in the Wilmington area

So please keep reading and *Like* us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @iwritereligion.


Amanda Greene, Editor