New class times for taiji, qigong and meditation @ Calm Chicago


Thank goodness practice teaches us that change is a fact of life. As conditions shift so can the center without any fuss or muss.

To allow all students the chance to deal with their own variable timetables, the center has updated the schedule of classes so that everyone will have the best chance to make it in for all the various classes here, even if they have to work late at the office some days.

You’ll also see updated pricing for private lessons for students who become member of the center. Now, instead of hour-long sessions being $60, members can take one-on-one classes for just $45!

The whole point is to be flexible, accessible and be of benefit. Let us know what you think.

Calm Chicago Meditation/Taiji retreat a real vacation for the mind and body


As usual, I forgot to take pictures. The irony never fails. After years in photojournalism and advertising photography, now that I run a meditation center, I nearly always forget to bring a camera!

So, here we were today at Calm Chicago –  Six people in the house for a half-day retreat, our first of the summer. We had a full range of experience; a few folks had never tried any meditation at all before or maybe just once or twice. One with six months under his belt. A melange of meditators if you will. Thankfully the day was not too hot and pretty quiet. Perfect. We had one wicked downpour. Cue the soothing rain sounds. Excellent.

In planning I’d been concerned about not throwing people too far into the deep end their first time out. So the day was structured so give participants enough time (hopefully not too much) with their butts on benches but alternating with dynamic forms of meditation as well. A little qigong, some Chinese health exercise involving movement coordinated with breathing) a little walking meditation.

People are routinely amazed at how much effort it takes to just sit still, breath and keep the mind focused on just the body and the breath. Suddenly you feel itchy or terribly sleepy when just a few moments ago everyone was wide awake. What the heck is going on with that? Or the spine hurts. A cramp in the foot. That weird new pain between the shoulder blades. And that’s just the body part. The mind rebels. “What’s this baloney about making the mind heel like a dog? What utter nonsense!” The mind whines like a petulant child. It prattles on producing artifacts of long-lost memories. Things that happened when you were five years old. Analyzing sounds coming up from the street below. Is that a police car or a fire truck? Maybe I should get up and look. And on and on.

But slowly over the course of the four hours, the minds began to fall in line bit by bit. The room grew quieter. Earlier fidgets gave way to soft breathing. The room wasn’t just quiet. It was full of the sounds of practice – that lovely refrain from restive twitching and a rising tide of mindful stillness.

We closed with a little beginning taiji, a good dose of movement to balance out the stillness. And here is where I was most surprised. I figured adding the taiji in after everything else was going to be just too much. But in fact it was just the opposite. (Thanks Scott for saying something to me.)

I was amazed at how much I could throw out there for brand new people to try and discover that it was just fine. It wasn’t too much it was just right. Lesson learned: once again I have to let go of my own notions, concerns, concepts about creating the perfect experience, about what people can do and roll with changing conditions. The great thing was…we just did it and it was really terrific.

And the day ended up being just what I’d wanted for everyone; a chance to have a taste of what Calm Chicago offers, the opportunity to enjoy a real vacation for the body and mind. To open the door for more people to discover what I already know, that meditation in its various forms, from sitting to walking and taiji and qigong is a real antidote to “civilization” and the various woes that seem to come with it. It’s nice to know we have a choice in how we live each day and to be able to share that choice with as many people as possible.

Thanks to all of you today for coming in and practicing together. I hope to see you all again real soon.

Hillary

A new look for the face of stress-reduction in Chicago


Our new logo designed by David Eastman

I’m pretty excited to announce that we’re really close to nailing the new logo for the center. It’s been really interesting to work with David, who brought a lot of sensitivity and insight (and determination) to getting the job done. I wanted to move away from the yin yang that it seems every taiji school on the planet uses, as being a little cliché. But, I still wanted to maintain some representation of it since it is such a deep and central concept to taiji practice. There was also a desire to keep the look simple. Additionally, I wanted to try to convey one of the other ideas at the heart of our practice and teaching- that is a notion of single pointed mind. So, all together wanting a clean look that would also have a touch of the energy and determination that is also an essential part of developing daily meditation and taiji practices.

I’m very grateful to David for his great work. So, we may see some final tweaks before we call it done for sure. But right now, here it is.

Let me know what you think. And of course, we hope you’ll come visit us and get your own practice started. We all know there is plenty of stress in Chicago and no time like right now to start getting rid of it. You can learn more about Calm Chicago: the mind & body center at our website. http://www.calmchicago.org

Half-day meditation,taiji, qigong retreat


Sunday June 13 1-5 pm Calm Chicago invites you to join us for an afternoon of extended meditation. We’ll practice alternating periods of sitting, standing and walking meditation with qi gong and taiji for a more dynamic meditation.

Both beginners and experienced meditators are welcome. The afternoon will be structured so that you can leave your stresses and worries outside the door and enjoy a time of pure, focused practice, giving your mind a true rest.

Light refreshments, water and tea will be served.
Donation: $25
Please silence all cell phones, pages etc. before your arrival.

Advance registration required.
RSVP via web site: http://www.calmchicago.org
The center is located at:
2147 S Lumber Street Suite 504 Chicago, Il 60616

I look forward to seeing you there.

Hillary

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