Colette M. Jenkins


CUYAHOGA FALLS: The Akron-Canton Shambhala Meditation Center is dedicated to helping people find enlightenment.



“Our goal is to provide a place where people can come and relax and find inner peace,” said Dan McCune, director of the center. “We are working to provide programming and tools that will help strengthen people by helping them understand how they fit into the world.”



One of those tools is the retail store – Windhorse Imports and More – that opened this month to offer Buddhism and meditation-related supplies.



The store, which has an entrance at 1707 Front St., is stocked with fair-trade products, including Tibetan singing bowls, books, prayer flags, origami cranes, wall hangings, greeting cards, journals, incense, incense burners, Dharma bags, meditation cushions, statues and mala bead necklaces and bracelets.



Mala beads are traditionally used in prayer or meditation to help calm the mind, body, and spirit. Some of the beads are made from seeds that are believed to embody peace and love. Others include gemstones that are believed to offer different healing qualities – like turquoise, which is believed to increase love and destroy hatred and lava, which provides strength and clarity.



The traditional Tibetan incense stocked in the store is made from natural substances, including some recipes that are recorded from the time of Buddha. It is typically used to create a calming ambience for meditation, relaxation or purifying. Some of the aromatherapy incense for healing is handmade, under the supervision of Tibetan doctors.



“The singing bowls all come from Nepal. They are made from different metals and make different sounds,” said Janet Stavole, store manager. “They are used to enhance meditation by helping create balance. They are also used for reducing stress and holistic healing. Some people play them for music.”



Most of the items sold in the store are supplied by United Kingdom-based Windhorse Imports, which was founded in 1987 to provide hand-crafted Dharma goods from Nepal and India to schools, museums and retail stores. The supplier is devoted to providing items that are produced without the use of child labor and that help producers in developing countries.



The store also sells goods that are produced by local jewelry makers and artists. One of those artists, Jeff Pasek, recently earned his graduate degree in fine arts (painting and drawing) at Kent State University, where he will begin teaching illustration as an adjunct professor in the spring.



Pasek, of Cuyahoga Falls, practices meditation daily at home and goes to the center periodically for group meditation. He said he wants his paintings, which come from a body of work that he calls “Intuitive Landscapes,” to inspire those who see them. His acrylic paintings on canvas are displayed throughout the center.



“Painting for me has always been meditative, even before I became aware of the sitting practice taught at the center,” Pasek said. “It is my hope that by sharing my work, I can add to the calming atmosphere and portray a sense of space and openness, which those particular landscapes try to elicit.”



The meditation center opened in April 2009 in office space on Portage Trail. Before opening the center, its founders had been meditating together for years as a branch of the Cleveland Shambhala Meditation Group.



Earlier this year, the nonprofit organization moved to its current location on Front Street, which provides quadruple the space of its former home. It includes a Shambhala meditation hall, a kitchen, a nondenominational meditation hall, several meeting spaces, four bathrooms, a child-care area, an area for mindfulness-based therapy and Shambhala art therapy, a library and the retail store.



The Akron-Canton Shambhala Meditation Center (which includes a satellite center in Stark County at 2401 Whipple Ave. NW) has its own teaching staff and shares resources with other groups, including those in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus. It is part of an international community of urban meditation and rural retreat centers founded by Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and headed by Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche.



Shambhala is rooted in the teachings of Buddhism but is open to practitioners of any faith or nonfaith tradition. Its basis is that every human being has a fundamental nature of goodness, warmth and intelligence and that nature can be developed through meditation and further enriched in daily life.



Meditation instruction is offered, at no cost, at the Cuyahoga Falls site at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m. Fridays and in Canton at 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.



For more information about the local center and its programs, go to http://akron.shambhala.org or call 330-459-0320.



Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com. She can be followed at www.twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.