Mystic Heart Meditation Program leaders this week come from different spiritual backgrounds, but their mission is the same.
Teachers Rebecca Cole-Turner, United Church of Christ minister and spiritual director, and Ron Cole-Turner, H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, will join Subagh Singh Khalsa, director of Mystic Heart, in leading participants in Christian and Sikh Dharma Meditation during Week Two.
Khalsa prefers to operate on spontaneity. He chooses a technique, such as a mantra or meditation practice and leaves the rest up to the mood of the audience in the moment.
“As far as what I talk about or what the conversation around the meditation is, (it) is more or less dependent on who’s there, what their questions might be, how I read what their need might be,” Khalsa said. “It’s a matter of being responsive rather than instructive.”
Both Cole-Turners are passionate about participants giving to others through “a wonderful practice (that) helps people find their centering source,” Ron said. Their primary structure is a focus on the development of inward peace, which will be found through receiving-oriented meditation.
What matters most to Khalsa is the confidence boost people feel at the close of the meditation service.
“I guess what I intend is that people get a sense that they are able, they’ve been encouraged and maybe equipped and they’ve been maybe supported in their ability to find their own most true self,” Khalsa said.
Those who are doubtful about their feelings post-meditation, Khalsa said, might just need a push in the right direction.
“Maybe they just need a little help to get over some sort of an obstacle or what seems like an impediment to their practice,” he said. “In every case, I hope that people come out of it better able to maintain their own practice — whether they do it at home, do it in a group that they’re just better able to enter into what I call ‘that sacred space.’ ”
In the Chautauqua community, events are planned far in advance in order to ensure an optimal schedule for the season, so Khalsa instead emphasizes impromptu circular communication.
“So much of what we do in a place like Chautauqua has a presenter or an entertainer in front of a group or an audience, and they do what they were planning,” he said. “Our communication (is) in all directions at once. It’s a mosaic of people rather than a linear arrangement.”
The Cole-Turners want to act as tiles in that mosaic.
“How many of our world’s worst problems would disappear if more of us opened ourselves to the embrace of love and passed on to others the joy we receive as we meditate?” Ron said. “I hope that those who join me will discover and deepen their consciousness of ‘the peace that passes all understanding’ which is from our Christian teachings.”
Christian meditation with the Cole-Turners is at 7:15 every weekday in the Presbyterian House, and Sikh Dharma meditation with Khalsa is at 8:15 a.m. every weekday. Additional Sikh Dharma sessions at 4:45 p.m. in the sanctuary of Hurlbut Church.
“Sometimes it’s amazing stories of transformation and other times, it’s maybe more a story of frustration,” Khalsa said. “My teacher said often: ‘The great mantra of our time is “keep up.” ’ Sometimes that means just try again, just try again, just try again. I like to tell people, ‘Forget the trying part. Just do it, and see what happens.’ ”