Tag Archives: meditation

Retreat Favorites: Kale Salad & Meditation

Kale Salad

  • 1 bag of kale (cut out large stems)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed)
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
  • Orange, yellow or red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • Himalayan salt
  • Turmeric
    (use organic ingredients when possible)


Place kale in a bowl.  Pour extra virgin olive oil over kale. Squeeze lemon juice over kale (1/2 or whole lemon (taste). Using your hands blend oil and lemon juice until liquid is equally distributed over kale. Using a garlic press.  Press 2 – 3 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle Himalayan salt and turmeric. Chop bell pepper.  Again blend all together.


Be mindful as you are preparing your kale salad. Feel the textures as you blend the ingredients with your hands. Smell the aromas of garlic, lemon, olive oil and bell peppers. Also see the colors of the ingredients. Taste the flavors and feel the textures as you enjoy eating your salad. Most importantly feel the love you put in to preparing this salad for yourself and or for your loved ones.


2015 Winter Retreat

from our Winter Retreat 2014

Winter Retreat 2015
“Silence and Simplicity”

February 20-22, 2015
Chicot State Park
Ville Platte, La.

Our 2nd annual Winter Retreat will be an opportunity to more fully engage simple daily tasks like breathing, walking, drinking tea, and eating mindfully, as well as exercises in journaling, nature walks, and yoga. The retreat will be held at Chicot State Park in Ville Platte, La. beginning on Friday, February 20 at 6:30 p.m. and end on Sunday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m.

The cost for the retreat will be $50 per person and will include two nights lodging. Retreat attendees will coordinate to provide vegetarian meals for the weekend. No meditation experience or religious affiliation is required to attend. Available space is limited. For more information or to reserve a space contact Lyndon Marcotte at (318)229-3811 or email: info@cenlameditation.org.

Learning to Live in the Moment

Michelle ChevalierI had read about the healthful benefits of meditation for several years, but it always seemed so foreign to me. I also didn’t know of any place locally to learn more. I have always preferred human connection to internet chat rooms, so I never sought out support or information online.

About a year ago I saw a Facebook ad about CENLA Meditation Group and was pleasantly surprised to find there was an active group in my proverbial “backyard.” I really had no idea what to expect, but I had a desire to try and balance my life, so I decided to see what it was all about.

Everyone was very kind and welcoming, and as I took a seat on the back cushions I felt a nervous kind of excitement to be trying something new. I found the relaxed environment very comfortable and, as someone who had never “sat” before, I was happy to hear it was okay to fidget, lie down, or shift positions if needed. Some visitors even sat in chairs if they were physically unable to get on the floor.

What I have gained from coming each month is a supportive community, free of judgment, whose desire is to learn more about themselves and help others. I am forever grateful for the new friends and practices I have learned that help me live in the moment & enjoy my life to the fullest.

Michelle Chevallier

Michelle is a social worker (MSW, LCSW) with a local hospice, wife, and mother of a sweet little boy. They live in Pineville, LA.

Tuesday Night Practice

We will begin a study and practice of The Four Foundations of Mindfulness this evening at 7pm. A few of us meet at 6:20pm to begin with yoga. You are welcome to join us for either.

We meet at 3500 Hwy 28 East in Pineville at First Christian Church across from Johnny’s Pizza. Beginners welcome. No meditation experience or religious affiliation needed.

The group functions on the basis of “dāna,” or generosity. The instruction is offered at no charge, but donations are welcome to cover expenses and offer a way to express support for the practice.

Tips for Developing a Regular Sitting Practice

A personal sacred space

Choose a space that is dedicated just for your practice.
Select a place in your home that you will only use for your practice. Choose a space that will be relatively quiet when you practice and where you can be alone. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A corner of the bedroom or a large closet would even do. Place a cushion there and something meaningful to you, such as a candle or a picture that inspires you. You don’t balance your checkbook in this space. You don’t play on Facebook here. You turn the ringer off when you’re here. You just sit. Treat the space as sacred and only use it for your practice.

Practice at the same time every day, as much as possible.
It can be very helpful to begin your day with meditation, but if that doesn’t fit your schedule right now, find another time that works for you. Perhaps it will be easier for you to end your day and unwind with your practice, or you may find a 15 minute window of time during the day that works for you, perhaps when you first get home or when you put the baby down for a nap. The important thing is to practice at the same time of day, as much as possible. It sets the expectation in your mind and a makes that time for yourself a priority. Put it in your calendar and set an alarm in your phone if you must. No one else will make your practice a priority for you, if you don’t.

Create a meaningful ritual for your time in that space.
Find a way to make your practice your own using a simple ritual that is meaningful to you and sets your intention for your practice. Maybe you can light a candle and take a moment to express gratitude before you begin. Maybe you can include a picture of someone who is especially endearing to you that inspires you. Maybe it’s a simple mantra practice like loving kindness meditation that helps you begin your practice. Do whatever works for you that helps you to shift gears from the busyness of your life and into your practice.

Set reasonable goals for yourself.
If you’re not a morning person, it will be very difficult to suddenly try to get up at 4:30 am to meditate every day. Be realistic. Don’t try to sit for an hour any time soon. Even 5 minutes a few times a week is a good way to begin a new practice. If all you do is sit down on the cushion and put your body there in that space in that posture for a few breaths a day then get up and go about your day, it can be a very healthy way to begin creating a meaningful practice. Set small reasonable goals for yourself and make them a priority.

Be accountable to others.
The practice of meditation may seem like a lone ranger mentality, but the truth is that we need a safe supporting community. Even if it’s just one friend that we can share about our practice with, it really helps us to know someone else is on a similar path as ours. We all need encouragement and the opportunity to offer encouragement to others. Find a local yoga class or meditation group that you can practice with on occasion, or join an online discussion group on meditation. Even using an app on your phone like Insight Timer will put you in touch with other people who are engaged in similar types of practice as yours.

The bottom line is you just do it. You set your intention, you make it a priority, and defend that time in your day as a way of giving back to yourself and cultivating the enormous potential that is in you. Sometime you have to be a little selfish in order to be more selfless for everyone else in your life.

Feelings Come & Go

When we just sit with our feelings and bodily sensations in meditation, we don’t have to understand or fix them. We just have to watch them. With equanimity and awareness they reveal themselves as they are.

With mindfulness we realize that those feelings, like everything else, are impermanent. They will pass. Right now, it may be like this, but in time how you feel now will change. In the mean time just practice cultivating loving awareness. Don’t judge yourself or add to the narrative with every thought that arises.

Finding your balance on the cushion

Some rights reserved by Beautiful Insanity PhotographySiddhartha Gautama was born a prince and lived in luxury. His father the King sheltered him from religious influences and the realities of poverty and suffering outside the palaces. Later in his life when he finally saw the enormity of suffering present in the world he left the privilege of royalty and became an ascetic monk.

In addition to discovering higher states of concentration he also adapted the ascetic practices of self-mortification and rejection of all worldly comforts, even to the point of living on a grain of rice or one nut per day. Upon his awakening Buddha realized that there is a Middle Way between indulgence and depravity.

The book of Ecclesiastes teaches, “Don’t be overrighteous. Don’t be overwicked. The man who fears God avoids all extremes,” (7:16-18). Religion and politics can both be loony or dangerous when practiced at the extremes. Contemplative practice of all kinds has pitfalls at the polarities, but a life of balance and moderation is where happiness, contentment, and well-being can be realized.

Most people who come to meditation are all too familiar with living on autopilot in this fast paced rat race we call Western life. We have come to know that having more stuff doesn’t satisfy, but the antidote is not found in rejecting our lives and replacing them with Eastern imitations. If you’re new to meditation practice, you can commit to sitting for hours everyday for the rest of your life, but it’s very unrealistic that you will be able to live up to that goal, especially when the realities of work and family interrupt the new spiritual life you’ve planned. There has to be a balance between spiritual ambition and apathy.

Buddha used the illustration of a stringed instrument. He told his student that if you tighten the string too much it will break. If you make it too loose, it will not make music, but if you tune it somewhere in between, the string will sound just right. Whether in our meditation practice, our yoga practice, or our work and family life, we need balance. Take it serious, but not too serious.

It would be better to start out small and slow than to blow your engine out at the starting line. The tortoise proved to the hare that “slow and steady wins the race.” If you’re just starting out, why not make a small commitment to spend just 5 minutes a day in meditation or whatever your practice is. In time you can increase it when you’re ready. It’s best to find a healthy balance between what is challenging and what is realistic. Yoga instructor Travis Eliot tells his students that “full effort always equals full benefit.” How we engage our practice is the key to finding the middle way in every other area of our lives.

Going to a meditation meeting for the first time?

  • We meet for group practice on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • We meet at River Oaks Square Arts Center on the 2nd floor at 1330 Second St. in Alexandria, La.
  • The meeting usually lasts about an hour.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes
  • Most sit on cushions but you can lay down or sit in a chair if you prefer
  • Cushions are provided, but you’re welcome to bring your own
  • We usually begin with a few minutes of a centering meditation
  • There will be a short talk about meditation usually about 15 minutes
  • There will be 20-30 minutes of silent group meditation
  • Meditation instruction is offered, but everyone is welcome to do their own practice
  • You’re welcome to linger after the meeting to meet people or ask questions
  • There is no charge, but donations are welcome.
  • No religious affiliation or meditation experience is required to attend.
  • We’re really laid back. Some have had active meditation practices for several years. Many are new to the practice. All are welcome.