Hello friends. This is the story of Center Heart® but in order to tell it I have to begin with some of my own history because really there is but one story.
My parents were both physicists in Princeton, NJ when I was born, so it is not really surprising that I eventually became a focused seeker of Truth as well. Early on I discovered music. I was the youngest of 3 girls, and everyone in the family played an instrument. I found my voice through the cello. Every summer was spent away at music camps and soon it was clear that playing the cello was a very deep passion for me. When I left home I attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and then went on to get a Masters Degree in Performance from Ithaca College. I eventually became a cellist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, a job that I loved for 15 years. However, by 1994 I had a husband and a young family that really needed a full-time Mom so I resigned my position.
It was at this point that my mystical journey truly began, although one might say that through music I had been a seeker all of my life. At one point while looking for a better school situation for our 3 young children I was led to the Waldorf Schools and the work of Rudolf Steiner. Through studying Steiner’s work I began to get glimpses of the underlying nature of reality. I got into the habit of arising before dawn, before the children were up and about, so that I could meditate. At this point the Universe turned upside down, and I knew that all was not as it seemed. I understood that There is but One, that the true nature of reality is the Self. But I don’t live in that understanding. I just know beyond a doubt that it is true. Out of these early morning meditations the vision of Center Heart began to emerge. In 2000 my husband and I purchased a farm in Princeton, NJ and the journey began.
Before Center Heart even had a name, the farm seemed to be calling for some traditional Lakota sweat lodges. And while these felt important, after a while they no longer seemed to be needed. Then the name emerged and Center Heart started to define itself. The property was blessed by Shree Ma with a weekend retreat and fire ceremony, and Krishna Das came and, during a wild rain storm, performed an amazing Kirtan in the large barn. It was really just so much fun! At that point the Center Heart meditations began and the community started to grow. I met David LaChapelle, a wisdom teacher of the essential Self from the West Coast, and he brought our community even closer together with gatherings and retreats. I went through the lengthy process of getting a 501c3 for Center Heart, and we trademarked our name.
However, because the property was in a residential district, developing the full vision was hobbled by the process of getting a conditional use permit. We did continue to hold community events, like movie nights, and pot-lucks and our meditation continually deepened and grounded its form. Sadly though, by the time the permit was granted my husband and I had decided to go our separate ways and the property was sold so that we could pursue our dreams independently.
For 5 years I went through a dark night of the soul. I had so much to grieve for: starting with the end of my marriage, and the completion of my parenting years as my youngest child moved out into the world, the closing of the doors of Center Heart, ending at least temporarily what I knew to be my true heart’s work, culminated by the early death of my dear, dear friend David LaChapelle. I withdrew from the world as I wrestled with the belief that I had failed both my family and my community.
And yet all along I knew that There is but One so whom could I have failed? I had to just wait it out, wait for the concepts to release me, wait for the inner critic to withdraw, and wait for all of the pieces of my next step to fall into place.
I started to take pictures, slowly reemerging into the world through the small focused images on my camera screen. I began to feel a new passion for life and I knew that Center Heart was reawakening as well. And it found a home that welcomes the activities that were part of the original vision.
So what is Center Heart?
Center Heart has always been much more than just a name. For me it is both a location and a vibration, and as such it lies at the intersection of my commitment to serve in the world and my deepest knowing. It offers our community a place to sing and dance with a joyful abandon, and yet is simultaneously the silent, non-judgmental witness to not only our sorrow and tears but our laughter, our connection, and our love. Center Heart is a vibration that has always existed. It goes beyond time and space, existing in non-duality as a vibration that has shown up in the world in a multitude of forms. It is an expression of the true Self, the Oneness that is everything.
All are welcome.
Patricia Weimer, Founder and Director