How to Get Quiet in Chicago
There are some new, and not so new, offerings in Chicago to facilitate us getting quiet. I love the hustle and bustle of living in the city, and having some support to stay centered and feel connected to myself and to the ones most close to my heart is crucial.
Here are some favorites (please enjoy and share!)
Breathe Bar: Getting to a meditation class shouldn’t be stressful or add to your to-do list. To remove that barrier, breathe bar comes to you when and where it works in your schedule. Like the “Uber” for meditation, breathe bar offerings, including customized meditation classes & workshops and 1-on-1 privates, literally and figuratively, meet you where you’re at. Areas of focus include cultivating well-being, managing stress, and improving focus. Sounds good to us!
From their FAQ’s:
- What is meditation, and what type do you teach? In short, meditation means focused awareness. We like this definition from Psychology Today, “Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.” The meditation we teach is not affiliated with any particular faith or belief system. Our sessions encompass breath work, body awareness, mantra, visualization and affirmations. Meditation is a practice, not a belief, that we believe is an essential tool to foster well-being. To read more about the science of well-being and meditation, we highly recommend the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Incorporating a meditation practice into an already busy routine seems to be a common topic across national news programs and publications. It sounds easy enough in theory… but really, how and where does someone start? What does it really take? illumine sat down with Andrew Shykofsky, founder of Meditate Chicago, to discuss this and his experiences since opening his doors in July 2013.
Shykofsky has practiced meditation since 1985 and received eight years of personal instruction from two Christian master teachers about meditation and inner healing techniques.
Check out this article about how meditating and visualizing are great ways to attract a new romance.
Newest in Chicago’s meditation offerings, Chill offers meditation and chair massage, in a lovely River North setting, across from the Merchandise Mart. Two mediation studios offers drop in classes through the week for guided meditation and yoga, lounge chairs with the sound of calming waters to chill and hangout, and a curated boutique with products that encourage a more mindful approach to the everyday.
One of the oldest and rooted in Shambhala Buddism, this center recently relocated from Rogers Park to the West Loop. A beautiful and bright space, they are equipped for the newbie as well as the long time practitioner. The Shambhala Meditation Center of Chicago offers several entrances to the path of meditation: daily free meditation from 12-12:30pm, multiple classes, discounts and scholarships, niche opportunities for women, women of color, queer dharma, and social engagement, this is a rich, established and impactful community.
“It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don’t we think about training our mind?”
-Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Getting quiet, reducing the stimulus to our brain specifically, and our nervous system in general, allows for our system to relax deeply. As a result, we may experience some or all of the many benefits, including noticeable reduced stress and/or pain, increased creativity, enhanced recovery, immune response, and “de-automatization” or a reset, rather than the always-on, reactive head space that may have become our normal. No need to feel anxious if you can’t swim. Flotation tanks are not deep, just enough to let your body float inches off the bottom and feel completely weightless.
Located in River North, this modern floatation studio offers session beginning at $60, with shareable packages available.
Without gravity pushing you down all the time, your spine lengthens an inch, chronic pain is relieved, and your muscles get to fully rest. Unlike lying on a mattress, lying in water allows blood to flow freely all throughout your body. There’s no need to readjust your position to get comfortable.
About 40 minutes into your float your brain stops producing its normal Alpha waves and starts churning out Theta waves. These are responsible for that ‘between-waking-and-sleeping’ state, and you make them naturally every night before you conk out. While it only lasts for a few sparse moments in your bed, you can achieve a prolonged Theta state in the tank, a state of consciousness that is usually only seen in children and people who have spent years practicing meditation.
Floatation therapy is a preventative and therapeutic health care practice that consists of floating on your back in a highly concentrated magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) solution.
During the session, which lasts about an hour, incoming stimuli including light, sound, and the sensation of gravity are reduced.
The unique conditions of the floatation therapy environment, which includes reduced external stimuli and reduced pressure on the musculoskeletal system, have been shown to bring about positive physiological, psychological, behavioral, and neurocognitive changes.
These include reduced stress, reduced muscle and joint pain, improved mood, improved sleep, and improved athletic and cognitive performance.
This occurs, in part, because floatation therapy reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest-and-recover response).
Over the years, Gong Baths have graced Chicago yoga studios for special events. Now it’s available several times a week at Anatomy Redefined, and other locations that are finding the interest more consistent. A study shows a change in blood cell shape and density. But see for yourself. Because our ears are used to hearing words, music, and other familiar sounds, the planetary gongs will be unfamiliar at first. Give it a few tries. Arrive with plenty of time to get settled, and plan long bath or chill evening following the experience.
Anatomy Redefined is a well appointed space in the West Loop. Sound meditation used to be a special event, and now it is generously available several times a week.
With “large Planetary gongs vibrating to the orbital properties of coordinating planets and quartz crystal bowls are played as you simply lie down and allow of the sound waves to soothe your body, mind and spirit. The calming sound of these therapeutic instruments will carry you into a deep state of relaxation while encouraging a meditative state. Many find this is a wonderful way to assist with stress reduction, release tension, enhance creativity and gain personal insights… This class is the perfect way to unwind. No movement at all is utilized, suitable for all ages and abilities.” (Anatomy Redefined)
For the newbie to sound meditation, trusting that vibration and sound is soothing is all you need. If that’s a stretch, remind yourself of hearing music you love and the way it can transport you to another time and place, or the shift in mood by simply hearing a song. Because our ears are tuned to hear words, harmony and and familiar rhythms, it will take a few session to get comfortable to this different kind of sound.
From their website: Sound meditation offers unique and deeply effective approach to helping you relax, re-harmonize and re-connect. Blending soothing sounds from therapeutic instruments with a holistic approach to self-care, you will be taken on a journey to help discover inner-peace.
The studio itself is a sensory journey offering an escape from the stresses of daily life. Enjoy a group sound meditation, private tuning fork session, sound immersion, private event or studio rental to help you redefine your mind-body connection.
Our reader, Gary Alexander addedL
Yoga at St. James. It is amazing how quiet it can be right in the middle of the bustling North Michigan Avenue/River North neighborhood, with only the occasional sound of the cathedral bells marking the time and the Angelus at 6. Stop by yoga any Monday at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron, to experience this unique setting for a class. Mondays at 5:45 p.m.
What’s your favorite way to get quiet? We would love to hear from you in the comments or send a private email to firstname.lastname@example.org