For Immediate Release                      Contact:   Gail Towns              or           Tara Strickland
                                                                                   732.987.2266                          732.987.2291
                                                                                    gtowns@georgian.edu         tstrickland@georgian.edu

Japanese Calligraphy: Writing for Mind, Body, and Soul Offered at GCU

Lakewood, N.J. Apr. 12, 2010—Japanese calligraphy is more than a pretty art form. It’s also a way to move past the stresses of daily life—snarling traffic, never-ending bills, and family demands—into mindfulness, the practice of giving your undivided attention to what you are doing right now, moment by moment.

Sachiko Komagata, Ph.D., a Georgian Court University assistant professor of holistic health, has seen what happens when newcomers to the ancient writing technique put brush and ink to paper.

“Even though they have never learned Japanese writing before, once they start to draw on a white sheet of paper, they center themselves and are less distracted with usual, daily thoughts,” says Dr. Komagata, who will teach Japanese Calligraphy as Mindfulness Practice at GCU, beginning April 19. “I usually don’t need to instruct people to be mindful; the activity itself somehow puts them into the moment.”

The five-week course, offered through GCU’s McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning, meets each Monday through May 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The class is one of seven offerings this spring hosted by the McAuley Institute, a new GCU program tailored for participants ages 50 and over who enjoy college-level learning. Course registration is $120 per person and is open only to members of the McAuley Institute. The class will meet in the Wellness Center on GCU’s Lakewood campus.

Dr. Komagata will offer students a brief history and teach calligraphy’s major stroke styles, phonetic letters, and ideograms. Participants will learn to use all of their all senses as they experience calligraphy as a whole. Supplies are provided for class use, but students may purchase their own shodo (Japanese calligraphy) set after the course.

Although mindfulness dates back to the era of Buddha, the age-old technique has found new popularity in health and medicine, academia, and in business settings. Proponents say mindfulness reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces aches and pains, and improves our mental health and emotional disposition.

“Being mindful is a good practice because you may be able to learn how to shut down the learned habits and experience something as if it is new to you,” says Dr. Komagata, who has taught other McAuley Institute classes. “Those who practice mindfulness may also develop better sense of empathy and centeredness. Even a brief moment of mindfulness practice will make a person’s day go much smoother.”

The McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning, which launched in the fall of 2009, continues to attract area residents interested in non-credit courses taught by experienced professors. An annual membership fee of $25 opens the door to thought-provoking topics for members who take classes, enjoy select meet-and-greet events with headline speakers and entertainers appearing at GCU, and attend two social networking events each year.

To register for “Japanese Calligraphy as Mindfulness Practice” and any courses offered this spring, contact GCU’s Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263 or specialevents@georgian.edu. You may also visit our Web site at www.georgian.edu/mcauley/index.htm for a printable registration form.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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