An informal book study group started in 2011 and met for over a year discussing authors of various genres of religion and spirituality. During that time we discovered there was an unexpected appetite in our conservative community for a more open, affirming secular spirituality, and secondly, a community of common interests and mutual respect began to develop.
In an attempt to go beyond a purely intellectual understanding of mindfulness, Cenla Meditation Group began meeting in September 2012 to provide opportunities to practice meditation together in a safe space with others who shared an interest in an experiential approach. Uncertain whether anyone would show up or come back if they did, nearly 11 years later we are still meeting weekly for meditation practice, having reached hundreds of people, partnering with diverse organizations in our community, and holding various workshops and retreats every year throughout Central Louisiana. The book group that started it all has also covered dozens of books since they began and still meets in the same coffee shop downtown.
Here’s an article that The Town Talk did for the group’s two year anniversary: Cenla Meditation Group seeks ‘mindful living.
The mission of Cenla Meditation Group, Inc. is to promote well-being through mindfulness education and practice opportunities while building a diverse nurturing community of support.
Cenla Meditation Group, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax-deductible. Our EIN is 46-3227450.
Since early in it’s beginning the group has established some great relationships in our community which have strengthened its impact. Among them are:
- One of the founding participants of the group was the President of our local United Way of Central Louisiana, which helped to open doors to meet other leaders and organizations in the community.
- Several professors from LSUA, our local state university have participated in our weekly meetings and workshops. This opened networking opportunities on campus, including leading workshops each year for new nursing students to help them manage the stress of nursing school, as well as supporting the LSUA SAGA (Sexually and Gender Alliance) group to promote diversity and LGBTQ inclusion on campus and in our community.
- Providing continuing education for social workers at our local Veterans Administration Hospital on using mindfulness practices in patient care as well as self-care of the clinician. Also leading supervised group therapy in the PTSD Clinic on mindfulness-based coping strategies for stress reduction.
- Participation in CENLA Pride Weekend’s Interfaith service for several years to promote diversity and inclusion of our LGBTQ community.
- Started a local chapter of Refuge Recovery, a Buddhist/mindfulness alternative to traditional 12 step groups
- Working with C.L.A.S.S. (Central Louisiana AIDS Support Services) to help develop and implement their new Balance program using acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness approach to recovery and well-being, as part of their grant program through the Rapides Foundation.
- Partnering with other meditation groups like Refuge Meditation Group and Spirit Path Meditation and Spiritual Enrichment Center in neighboring Shreveport and Lafayette to learn from their experience and work together to provide regional workshops and retreats.
- Participating in our local PFLAG Alexandria group’s health fair and other activities that support diversity and wellbeing in the LGBTQ community.
- Hosting workshops and film nights in our local Rapides Parish Library and presenting in their healthy living classes.
- Partnering with our local Hindu community at Gayatri Parawar of Alexandria to offer a community-wide event bringing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, and Atheist/Agnostics together for an evening of meditation, yoga, Kirtan, and chanting.
- The Blue Cliff College Massage School instructors and students regularly participate in our weekly meditation group and recently their massage therapy students provided free chair massages for the participants of our last event.
- Establishing relationships with local yoga and meditation teachers to increase community awareness of the group’s mission and broaden and diversify the number and styles of teachers in our workshops and retreats, including Kundalini yoga, Qi Gong, Kripalu yoga, Baptiste Power Yoga, and even a Chinese tea ceremony.