I Am Here ... Finally
Making time for a meditation intensive in the midst of daily life
This blog post was written by author and poet, Amy Lee Kite.
For many months, I had been wanting to visit Chill, a modern meditation studio in the city of Chicago. As a North Shore resident with three kids, three rescue dogs and more than three jobs, I was slow to get myself to this oasis in the middle of bustling River North. Yet, when I read about the weekend meditation intensive that they were having, I signed up without hesitation. The irony with me having not made time to get to Chill was exactly what motivated me to sign up for this weekend: I was in need of a reminder, a boost and a focused weekend of breathing and being.
Coming from the burbs, I had to battle heavy traffic and then rush to find a parking spot. I was hustling down the sidewalk, with my new books that had been suggested in tow (“How to Meditate” by Pema Chodron and “Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn). I was grateful that I was carrying these books as they reminded me to just be where I was … even if I was about to be one minute late!
When I walked into the studio, I was greeted with a warm hello and an offer for water or tea. Then, I was shown to the area where I could leave my belongings and take off my shoes. As I was led to the room where the workshop was being held, I walked along dark hardwood floors and gazed at the white brick walls, which had some sayings on them such as “Chill. It’s good for you.” There were fountains in an open waiting area with inviting chaises that beckoned me to take a rest. Yet, I had work to do. And already my breaths were deepening.
The studio itself was beautiful. Its simplicity was so welcoming. I sat down at a mat, which had a grey meditation cushion, a leather notebook and a cozy blanket beside it. The two leaders, Darrell Jones and Kimberly Dunn, sat at the front of the dimly-lit room. Even before they spoke, something about their presence was comforting.
Our group consisted of about 12 women and men. We all sat comfortably on our cushions, seemingly ready to absorb whatever was coming our way. We ranged from young adults who had never practiced meditation to seasoned yoga teachers who wanted to heighten their practice. I fell somewhere in between. I have meditated on and off for years, mostly during times of stress or discomfort. But, I was eager to incorporate a daily practice into my life — one that was as routine as brushing my teeth (an example that Darrell actually used).
We met for four hours each day, as we talked, listened, stretched and tried a few different types of meditation practices. From guided, sitting meditations to a gawky-turned-graceful walking meditation, I quickly realized that meditation was going to be a regular part of my life. There was nothing preachy or heavy. Everything that we discussed was light and easy, even if we were philosophizing a bit. It all was effortless. Darrell and Kimberly shared their stories, insights and beautiful energy with us all weekend. They appeared to be as happy as we were to be a part of this intensive.
I left the weekend with more than my original goal being accomplished. Not only was I now going to incorporate a daily meditation practice into my schedule (even if that meant a one-minute walking meditation from my driveway to my front door on extra-busy days), but I was going to look at each day differently. I was going to be more aware, more present, more relaxed and more grateful.
During the second and final day of the workshop, Darrell and Kimberly had us consider the question “who am I?” by asking us to journal a brief response. Had they asked us that question when we walked in the previous day, my response likely would have included details about being a loving mother, a loyal friend and an inquisitive spirit. However, after being enveloped by the leaders’ words all weekend, by the quotes they shared from our suggested readings and by the nurturing that I felt from my co-participants and even from the lovely space, I was led to write from a deeper place.
I am grateful to Chill and this weekend intensive for enabling this response to flow:
Who Am I?
I am energy.
I am love.
I am the vibrations that emanate from my body,
traveling into the Universe.
I am that radiating energy that dances with others.
I am here.