For four New Canaan residents, finding the perfect meditation group in Fairfield County was anything but relaxing. Unable to find a local, secular mindfulness program that fit their needs, Will Heins, Erika Long and Michelle and Nick Seaver decided to do the next best thing: start their own.
What eventually became know as the Community Mindfulness Project -- or CMP -- began in May 2014. Having benefitted from meditation in the past, the group began a small, informal gathering in New Canaan at the former space of Pryority Fitness. Three years and hundreds of sessions later, CMP has become one of the largest mindfulness programs in the county.
Today, CMP hosts 400 community meditation sessions annually, and has developed more than 50 outreach initiatives with organizations including Silver Hill Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, New Canaan Country School and others.
"At its core, mindful meditation wakes us up to our present moment experience, allowing us to become more attuned to ourselves and the world around us," said Will Heins, co-founder of CMP. "We are looking to provide local residents with the opportunity to build gratitude in their lives through regular practice.”
As CMP grew from small weekly meetings to its current status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the organization found a partner in New Canaan-based Bankwell, which has provided the group with financial and community support since its early days. "Bankwell’s contribution to CMP reflects our commitment as a community partner to supporting organizations that serve others and are attuned to real life values," said Diane Knetzger, director of marketing for Bankwell. "The engagement that CMP has seen over the last few years is a testament to the value they provide to the community.”
Currently, CMP's meditation sessions are held in New Canaan on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at Sama Yoga in the Halo Studio, on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. in Stamford's Ferguson Library and on Wednesdays at noon at the New Canaan Library. All sessions are free and open to the public.
"Core to our sessions is our commitment to building a sense of community among our members," said co-founder, Erika Long. "It brings us great joy to see the friendships that have developed and the open, engaged community of people supporting each other at each of our locations.”
Those interested in attending CMP sessions, becoming a facilitator or having CMP work with their organization can visit CMP’s Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.