“In this class we are all teachers, and we are all students. Together we both model and promote unity. I find that a very exciting and life-giving notion,” said Ed Merck, co-convener of the upcoming “Exploring Unity Consciousness” series at the West Tisbury library. The six-week series begins May 15 for the second year, after an enthusiastic response from participants last spring. Classes offer an inspiring mix of meditation and movement, with group discussion and sharing.
Held each Wednesday morning, the gatherings offer a peaceful and uplifting oasis in the midst of a busy late Vineyard spring. Class members can set aside the pressures of work, summer home, and garden preparations, increasing traffic, and rapidly expanding calendars, to breathe and turn focus at once inward and outward to encompass others and the wider world.
Joining Merck as co-convener is Ty Romijn, who practices zero balancing and acupuncture at Vineyard Complementary Medicine, and is a longtime teacher of tai chi and chi kung. He will guide the group in these meditative movements, which lead to a sense of fluidity, groundedness, and serenity.
“I’m highly grateful to have someone of his caliber doing the tai chi and chi kung piece of the classes,” said Merck.
Simple yoga postures are included. Movements are accessible to those of every experience level, none physically strenuous or demanding.
“We take the point of view that you can’t know unity intellectually or with your analytical, strategic mind, you can only be it, or experience it,” Merck explained. “Meditation, tai chi, chi kung, yoga bring us into deeper wisdom places within.
“So our class sessions include very little talk, and lots of action and experiencing. The class is about doing and experiencing, not knowing and thinking, much like the difference between expressing love verbally as opposed to through touch.
“The course is to have you experience unity. We do that through these modalities because through them we access the deeper wisdom of the body, without even talking about it.”
“Unity consciousness is an experience,” said Romijn. “Ed and I enjoy dropping into meditation with the group. We are leaning in together, creating an experience where unity, connection, and stability are simultaneously possible.”
Merck said he believes the class is the first of its kind to combine several modalities from meditation to movement, with the goal of transforming and opening the participant’s experience to unity and connection.
Challenging though it may be to articulate what participants experience, both Merck and library programming director Olivia Larsen said members of last year’s classes appeared strikingly happy. “Signup filled up, and people really loved the series,” Larsen recalled.
Merck, a lifelong musician accomplished in performing early music on historical wind instruments, mused that music is another means of reaching a meditative state, connecting with inner wisdom nonverbally. He is considering adding a musical component to this course.
Retired from a career as a strategic planning and finance executive in higher education, Merck for several years has led a weekly meditation at the Unitarian Universalist Society.
With his passionate belief in the power of unity consciousness and his meditation experience, it was a natural step to develop this course. “The most important thing I want to address is to do whatever I can to offer happiness to others and myself, and to make some contribution to world peace, harmony, and connectedness,” said Merck. “And it’s my belief that living out of the posture of unity consciousness is at the heart of it all.
“For me, individual happiness and harmony, as well as world peace, connectedness, and survival all have at their roots living out of unity consciousness.”
Merck explained when individuals not only see and understand intellectually but experience themselves connected to others, the illusion of separateness disappears. He believes that shift of perception can make a critical positive difference. The clear knowing that we are essentially connected and no different from one another engenders mutual respect and caring: “What leads to the countless drastic problems like climate change, male domination, violence, is a fascination with separation. I see the capacity to live out of unity consciousness as an antidote to unhappiness and all the ugly, nasty things going on in our world today. The lifting of consciousness is the only thing that will save us.
“Besides speaking to the state of our world, I believe very deeply that happiness for each of us is rooted in our capacity to live out of a posture of interconnectedness.”
Merck is quick to admit he cannot change or save the world, but at least hopes to make some small, local impacts that can have far-reaching effects.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I hope I’m not the only one,” he added with a warm chuckle and admiring nod to Beatle John Lennon. “It’s not much, but this is something I can do to make a contribution to world peace and individual happiness.”
“Exploring Unity Consciousness,” Wednesdays, 11 am to 12 noon, May 15 through June 19, West Tisbury library. Signup required; space is limited. Call 508-693-3366 to register.