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‘Present in the moment’

Maris Grove’s Evy Jacobs leads her neighbors in meditation

Created date

April 16th, 2015
Attendees in Evy Jacobs’ weekly meditation class at Maris Grove participate in a tapping exercise. The group meets in a space just off the main worship area in the community’s nondenominational chapel.
Attendees in Evy Jacobs’ weekly meditation class a

Once considered a weird and far-out practice, meditation is now endorsed by mainstream medicine. Studies show that mindfulness meditation—being in the present moment—can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and might even guard against Alzheimer’s disease.

Evy Jacobs, who lives at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., has known that for years. 

Benefits to body and mind

An early adopter of yoga and meditation, she started meditating 30 years ago when she led movement and music programs for adolescents at an accredited school in a psychiatric hospital. 

The two disciplines both relaxed and energized her. They were antidotes to the sometimes stressful work environment. 

Evy later added certification as a Feldenkrais practitioner; Feldenkrais is a program of movement exercises to benefit the body and the mind. 

Five years ago, she and her husband Al moved to Maris Grove. Self-described inner-city people who grew up on the same Philadelphia street, they liked Maris Grove’s proximity to cultural attractions and its location in an area of rolling hills. 

Evy’s philosophy meshed with Maris Grove’s mix of creative people and diverse activities. “I meet each experience with curiosity and enthusiasm,” she says. “I don’t want to fade into aging. I want to feel mentally and physically strong.”

She and Al dance in Maris Grove’s plays and Follies productions. She’s also active in Maris Grove’s Jewish community, does tai chi chih, takes painting lessons, and teaches line dancing. 

And with help from Maris Grove’s community resources staff, shortly after moving in, Evy launched a meditation class. 

Mindfulness at Maris Grove

About 25 people gather each week in the community’s beautiful nondenominational chapel, close their eyes, and focus on their breathing. “Be present in the moment,” Evy whispers.

When their minds inevitably stray to new thoughts, participants simply refocus on their breathing. “If your mind wanders 100 times, be kind to yourself and bring it back 100 times,” says Evy. 

As participants relax, Evy cues Al to play one of her guided meditation tapes or CDs. As the class absorbs the soft music and calming voice, their stress and cares recede. 

Evy also integrates new modalities such as body-tapping to simultaneously relax and energize participants for their after-class activities.

“Helping others makes me feel well and healthy,” she says. 

Evy believes people attend her class because it makes them feel good. To gain optimal benefits, she encourages them to do as she does—meditate every day.