Verona woman brings Eastern practices to Essex County

VER-Miriam Shankman-WCEDAR GROVE, NJ — Each week, approximately 30 local residents show up at the Cedar Grove Public Library to practice qigong, which is described by as “an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises.”

Their teacher, Verona resident Miriam Shankman, also provides classes through the Montclair Adult School and the Wellness, Arts & Enrichment, or Wae, Center in West Orange. In addition, Shankman holds special classes for cancer patients and cancer survivors at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston.

According to Catherine Wolverton, director of the Cedar Grove Public Library, Shankman’s programs are always well attended. “Our patrons love them and her,” Wolverton said in a press release.

Yvette Lucas, Wae Beyond program coordinator for the Wae Center, says the program is appreciated there too.

“Our meditation students come back time and again for Miriam’s healing meditation class,” Lucas said in the release. “A mixture of meditation and qigong, this class addresses healing in both mind and body.”

Shankman, who has been studying these eastern practices for more than two decades originally learning from Master Jou Tsung Hwa at the Tai Chi Farm in Warwick, N.Y., says teaching is more than a job for her.

“There’s nothing more gratifying than when students approach me after class to say that practice has made a difference in their lives,” Shankman said in the release. “And I understand, because it has made such a difference in mine.”

According to an article called The Health Benefits of Tai Chi that appeared in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications, “Tai chi is often described as ‘meditation in motion’ but it might well be called ‘medication in motion.’ There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice … has value in treating or preventing many health problems.”

“Unlike some more aggressive exercises,” Shankman said, “tai chi and qigong are appropriate for people of almost any age and condition. So it’s never too late to learn and we can continue practicing for the rest of our lives.”

Suzy Kass, former supervisor of the Adult School Department of the Montclair Public Library, calls Shankman “a special and gifted teacher.”

“She exudes the peace and tranquility we all seek and gives us the key to find it for ourselves,” Kass said.

For information about classes, call the Montclair Adult School at 973-744-0500, ext. 2224; the Cedar Grove Public Library at 973-239-1447; St. Barnabas at 973-322-2668; or Miriam Shankman at 908-310-2106. You can also contact Miriam Shankman by email at