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‘Main Street Buddha’ To Teach Qigong In Wyckoff

Melissa Canter. Photo Credit: Karen Sabath
Melissa Canter. Photo Credit: Jacqueline Rothman

WYCKOFF, N.J. – Melissa Canter will lead a class in qigong, an ancient Chinese moving meditation, at the labyrinth at Wyckoff Public Library.

The former Wall Streeter who worked in investment banking for 20 years said the practice helped changed her life.

“I worked harder and harder,” Canter said. “I was making millions of dollars. I was like a baseball player. But I knew I was making a dying, not a living.”

Sixteen years ago, she quit that life after her mother was killed in an accident and her father passed away.

Today Canter calls herself “a Wall Street guru turned Main Street buddha” and she helps others discover the same peace she found by teaching classes such as “Qigong on the Labyrinth.” She also teaches “Yoga for the Rest of Us,” which has a following of 200 students, at the Glen Rock Community School and the Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church.

From firsthand experience, Canter understands the vice of stress and speed in which many people are living.

“I didn’t understand that emotions and thoughts are not permanent parts of your body,” said Canter, who doesn’t like how some yoga is taught in the U.S.

“If I’m holding tension because I’m trying so hard to perfect a yoga pose,” she said, “what’s the difference between that and what I did on Wall Street? Have I not learned anything?”

She prefers the soft, flowing movements of qigong, which quiet the mind, reduce stress, and promote health. Mostly, Canter has discovered that people come to her classes because they need permission to slow down and breathe.

Life, she tells them, is not an emergency and they don’t have to answer every email they’ve received right now.

Last fall, Canter taught qigong in Beijing to Chinese people who didn’t know what qigong was.

“The younger generation there has become exactly like us — chasing the American dream,” she said. “They don’t value what the ancients already knew, what their grandparents know.”

For more about Melissa Canter, visit

To register for Qigong on the Labyrinth at 7 p.m. May 17 at Wyckoff Public Library, visit .

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