Feeling like you’ve been wrapped up in the whirlwind of Spring? The days are getting longer as the sun shines a bit more each day, but those minutes seem to be instantly filled with more and more activities and the general need to be “out and about.” As feelings of having too much on our plates begin to overwhelm us, I can almost hear the soothing voice of this month’s feature Runit Mom, Nancy Murray, encouraging a visit to the Copper Beech Institute. What is that, you ask? How can that help me, you’re thinking? Take a deep breath, quiet your mind, and read on to find out why classes and retreats are filling up months in advance.
Nancy’s Runitlikeamom Run-Down:
* Two kids – Helena and George and they are 20 and 17!
* I work for myself as a yoga teacher and teach public and private classes. In addition, I work as a volunteer many hours as the board chair starting up the Copper Beech Institute.
* It seems like I am always moving somehow! I love to walk and hike, and do so at any available opportunity. When the weather is better, I like to bike. Basically, anything outside. However, I also love to dance, and I confess that I like to play Just Dance on the playstation!
* What are my short-term and long-term fitness goals? Ooh. That’s a tough one. I would love to get my full body strength back (was in a car accident 4 years ago and still working on healing my shoulder). I have a new bike, and I have a goal to bike frequently this summer – trying not to get too aggressive on a goal so that it’s not achievable. And, finally, I am leading a walking pilgrimage down a portion of the Camino de Santiago in September 2016, so by then I want to be able to walk the 15 daily miles with ease.
* Oh, how I wish I had written things down when they were said. Both of my kids have always been funny, and so I can’t really isolate just one thing!
* If stranded on an island with my family I would want to have a camera and a really good book to read aloud if we got bored. Maybe a deck of cards. Would love to be in that situation and can’t imagine needing anything else.
* Favorite indulgence…We have a hot tub and I love to spend the end of the day catching up with my husband out in the tub – year round, rain or shine, unless the rain is really torrential.
Can you tell us a little about the Copper Beech Institute? Who do you work with and where is it located?
I work with Brandon Nappi, the executive director of Copper Beech and the associate director at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center (where we share space on their campus). He’s very creative, has a great open brain, is thoughtful, kind, and encouraging. I have my MBA and was a CPA (before I became a yoga teacher 10 years ago), so I’ve got the business side. We’ve made a great team.
We are on the grounds of Holy Family, and the campus is big and unique. There’s a beautiful labyrinth and the grounds are open to the public…it’ a beautiful place. For some retreats we have lit the labyrinth with luminaries and then walked through by candlelight. For purposes of getting started, being on the grounds also meant the infrastructure was already there. We were lucky we could just “open and go.”
In terms of what we do, we practice and provide retreats and trainings in mindfulness and contemplative practice. For those who are familiar with it, we’re similar to Kripalu, but smaller and more personal. We only host one retreat at a time. We do weekend sessions where participants can stay overnight or locals can commute. We do yoga in the morning and afternoon, and a concert on Saturday night.
We really apply to a wide range of people and professions. We’ve done workshops specific to social workers, teachers, and they even count as continuing education credits in some cases (nurses, social workers, life coaches for example).
Can you give us an example of how you implement mindfulness and contemplative practice?
We offer an 8 week, mindfulness based stress reduction class through a partnership with the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness. The course was founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and includes guided, sitting meditation and yoga, among other things. We also offer full day, half day, and overnight retreats.
Who do think would benefit the most from visiting Copper Beech?
Those who don’t feel like they have time to come. There’s a saying, “If you’re too busy to meditate, meditate twice as long”…I’ve really found this to be true; things will fall into place and you feel like you have plenty of time to do anything after you have taken the time to pause.
We’ve done a leadership retreat for business people, and have some upcoming as well. We also teach a class at the Hartford Correctional Center. Miranda (our program director who also leads yoga and meditation sessions and groups at Copper Beech) recently wrote about her experience leading a group of men at the correctional center on our blog.
That’s actually what called me to be a yoga teacher; I really believed it would benefit the prison population. We’ve also worked with the girls at Grace Academy. The girls were selected from Hartford public schools as “girls of promise,” and we trained them in mindfulness. Now they are teaching their peers. That is our hope; whether it’s the prisoners, girls in school, or people who come to us….to be able to share their mindfulness and contemplative practice with others. I wish we could do more….
“I have giant ideas, but I tell myself to be patient.”
So what do you recommend as a practice for someone out there who wants to make mindfulness a part of their life? Is there something in particular you think anyone do?
The practice I recommend is the one that resonates with you- there are many ways to become calm and peaceful. It could be through singing, or art or needlework, or sitting or jogging. The most important thing is to just be consistent, and do it with the intention of creating space for yourself.
“Don’t limit yourself.”
As described on their website, the copper beech tree is an image of mindfulness practice whose growth “expands outward even as it sinks roots downward.” This image speaks to the movement of being more connected to each other and the world around us. The Copper Beech Institute is helping us get “there” (to a place of connected mindfulness) both as individuals and as a society. Many thanks to Nancy for sharing her time, her wisdom, and her amazing energy with our Runitlikeamom community. Namaste.
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