Queens Scene

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Kimberly Brown

 

 

Kimberly Brown’s experience with a painful childhood led her to discover healthy ways of dealing with anxiety, feelings of unworthiness, panic attacks, sadness, and anger. She recovered her natural state of well-being by practicing both traditional Buddhist techniques and modern psychotherapeutic modalities, and now leads others through meditation and mind-body therapy to deeply engage with all aspects of their experience for integration, wholeness, and authenticity.

Her background includes training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at Washington Square Institute. She teaches public classes regularly at The Interdependence Project, Mindful Astoria, Shanti deva Meditation Center, the Rubin Museum, and others. She also works privately with individuals, couples, and groups, and to help business leaders and teams become more connected, kind, and resilient.

Kimberly’s new book, Steady, Calm, and Brave (Publishing with Heart) offers simple and accessible ways to help readers during a pandemic and beyond. This is an accessible and down-to-earth guide to navigating difficulties with patience, clarity, and mindfulness, incorporating practical techniques that provide on-the-spot support.

 

 

QG: What do you love about Buddhism?

KB: I love that even after 2,500 years it continues to be an effective and relevant path to steady your mind and reconnect to yourself and others. And that its methods of mindfulness, wise action, and compassion cultivation can be practiced by anyone, anywhere.

QG: Can you tell us more about how mind-body therapy has helped you?

KB: As an anxious person who suffered from panic attacks, I tried to cope with them by distracting myself (with Netflix, white wine, or working too much) or by becoming impatient and frustrated that I couldn’t make them go away. After learning mind-body techniques like boxed breathing, loving kindness meditation, and body awareness practice, I’m no longer overwhelmed by my anxiety, and while I still have panic attacks sometimes, they are less frightening and more manageable to me.

QG: What are the hardest parts about silent retreats and Vipassana?

KB: For me, the hardest part of retreat is the first three days. Without input like conversation, books, news, movies, social media, or texting, I feel sluggish and tired, though my mind races with super busy thoughts trying to fill up the now-empty space. After a few days I feel more grounded – almost like when you let a cup Turkish coffee sit and the grounds settle to the bottom of the cup. Developing concentration and working with boredom are challenging for me with any meditation. Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, is a type of Buddhist meditation which I practice on retreat, and the other is metta, or loving kindness meditation. Both lead to recognizing the truth of our experience – that everything is constantly changing and impermanent, we’re connected to all other beings, and each of us have joys and sorrows.

QG: What are your favorite places to meditate in Queens?

KB: Socrates Park is an amazing place to practice, and so is Flushing Meadows Corona Park, next to the Unisphere.

QG: What are some of the best Buddhist temples in Queens?

KB: Wat Buddha Thai Varanam in Elmhurst, though I believe it’s closed due to COVID. Mindful Astoria is a wonderful meditation group in Queens which now offers online programs through the pandemic.

QG: Who are some of your favorite therapists and meditation teachers with a Queens connection?

KB: Emily Herzlin, the founder of Mindful Astoria and an MBSR instructor and mind-body therapist, and Ven. Chiang Zhai of Chan Meditation Center in Elmhurst.

QG: What advice do you have for someone struggling with meditation?

KB: Don’t give up! It’s no different than learning any new skill – how to play a violin or throw a ball – it just takes patience and diligence. Be kind to yourself, and have trust and confidence that you can do it. I know you can.

—Nicollette Barsamian

For the full interview, visit QGazette.com.

This column was originated in July 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian

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