Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community
Tomorrow, December 21 will be the fourth meeting of a weekly event called Midweek Meditation that I guide. It is held at the Paragraph Gallery across the street from the residency studios, which is also run by the Charlotte Street Foundation. Onelife Fitness, located just around the corner sponsors the event, making it free and open to the public.
Anyone interested is welcome to join. No experience is needed.
My intention in providing the class is to make meditation accessible to anyone interested in the practice, particularly people who live and work downtown while bringing more exposure to the exhibitions being held at the Paragraph Gallery. The class is held over the lunch hour, from 12:15-12:45, giving people time to get to and from work.
Participants are invited to sit in chairs or on blankets laid on the floor, with blocks available. The last few weeks we’ve been fortunate to have this lovely piece by Rachel Hayes in the background from the Invest: The Bank Studio Residency Alumni Exhibition.
As people trickle in, I invite participants to select 5-10 swatches of fabric from a pile of many different colors, textures, and patterns that I have serged into round shapes from clothes and other repurposed fabric. After making their choices, each person adds the swatches to a community mandala in the center of the room. This serves as a transitional meditation before practicing silent, seated meditation.
Week 1 Mandala
Week 2 Mandala
Week 3 Mandala
The fabric swatches serve as a focal point for the attention, engaging the senses of sight and touch. This is what I consider a form of external meditation. Sensory engagement is utilized as a tool to bring the attention to the present time and space. It also serves as a ritual connecting people to the community they are practicing with, the space they are occupying, and their own goals or intentions for the practice. We then transition to internal meditation, bringing one’s attention inward.
Each class, before we begin, I offer some advice on finding a posture that is conducive to meditation. I discuss varying approaches and ideas around the practice of meditation: what to use as a focal point, what are the goals of meditation, what are some traditions around meditation. Participants are encouraged to contribute their own knowledge and experience, which I feel creates a more interesting and complex dialog. I usually give a suggestion for the practice, such as a focal point for the mediation (the sensations of the breath, repeating a word, using a visualization, etc.) but I also like people to be aware that they are welcomed to practice any form of silent, seated meditation that they like if they already have a practice that they find effective for them.
We typically spend 15-20 minutes in meditation. So far, I remained silent during that time after initially guiding people into a state of focus. In upcoming classes, we will also experiment with guided meditations to bring awareness to the many different methods available, in which I will periodically speak – guiding the meditation.
Afterward, we take a few minutes to stretch out after a long block of sitting still (usually a lot of numb legs) while participants are invited to share their experience, such as what people found frustrating or difficult, what sort of thoughts repeatedly came up, or what it felt like to intentionally do nothing for a few minutes of the day.
For anybody who is even curious about the practice, I really encourage you to try it out. You won’t ever feel like you’re missing something because you weren’t there the week before. When I first started practicing meditation, meditating in a group was the only way I could get myself to sit still even for 15 minutes. If I tried at home by myself, my mind would always start jumping around, and within 5 minutes I would abandon the practice, feeling too overwhelmed to continue. Meditating in a group, you have other people holding space for you. Setting aside time and having a dedicated place gives you permission to put away your impending to-do list for a few moments.
Hope to see you there. Thanks for taking the time and interest!
You can find out more about me and my work here: http://monicajdixon.com