February 13, 2019I'm there a little early, but I prefer it that way so I can get a feel for the room and the atmosphere.
It's the first ever Chinese New Year celebration in downtown Imlay City and wearing my Peaceful Moon Yoga hat, I decide to take part. The event was the dreamchild of Julie Welch and Margaret Hubbard of A Million Dreams Studio. The dynamic duo are dedicated to fostering all things art, creativity, happiness, health, wellness and culture in Julie's hometown of Imlay City.
I'm hoping for just that, too. I'm offering mini-guided meditation sessions featuring the glorious crystal singing bowl that was gifted to me by my beloved aunt. Tuned to the heart chakra, the bowl's vibration creates an ethereal sound that I can only liken to the sound of heaven. The first time I participated in a sound meditation workshop, it felt like being with God—or whatever Divinity that feeds your soul. I just knew I had to share this gift, and began sharing the singing bowl with students at the yoga studio.
On Tuesday, I'm assigned to a back room at Family Hair Care, a block or so down and across the street from Million Dreams. The room's a small studio apartment and the tenant has just moved out. I'm awed when I see the empty space, knowing that bowl will really sing and reverberate there.
Artist, hair stylist and fellow participant Stephanie Morgan sweeps and mops the room—she does so with loving care, a meditation in itself. We open the doors to release the odor of Pine Sol, and once the floor is dry, I do my thing. It takes several trips to and from my jam-packed vehicle to create the perfect meditation space. Little lotus flower cutouts made lovingly by my friend Lydia Imori create a circle. Strings of white Christmas lights create intimacy and a border. The mini-fireplace from the studio makes things cozy, and the Mexican blankets that will double as meditation cushions dot the room.
I spray a citrus aromatherapy blend around the room, and wait—somewhat nervously—for someone to come in.
Turns out, the wait is not long. Before the opening ceremonies I have two participants. Later, they come back to experience the meditation again. In the meantime, I offer at least eight ten-or-so-minute sessions to a few dozen people in the two-hour timeframe. The last session of the evening is packed. The 16 blankets I brought with me weren't enough for everyone to sit upon! It was nothing short of miraculous. Just when I think it can't get any better, Hong 'Anh' Nguyen offers to sing the guided meditation we just participated in called 'Flower, Fresh.' A Vietnamese exchange student, Anh is very familiar with Zen Master Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, whose teachings I used to model the meditation sessions. Participants stay to listen as her clear, angelic voice resounds through the empty room.
When she's done, she asks my permission to 'awaken the bowl,' and of course I say yes. She strikes it with reverence and vigor, and I learn a new skill by watching her.
Turns out, I had nothing to be nervous about. People are obviously hungry for a chance to sit down and sit still. To unplug from all the devices, busy-ness and worries, and to tune into the present moment, and touch the spirit inside and all around us.
To that end, here are some excerpts from the second half of the mini-meditation. It's called 'A Blessing for the Journey,' written by Leslie Davenport.
When days rush past in a blur, may you pause to receive the simple gifts that life generously offers.
When you are overwhelmed, may you rest in the gentleness of your own heart.
When you are feeling hopeless, may your imagination hold a torch to unseen possibilities.
When your mind is drowning in details,
may spaciousness arise, connecting you to the sacred mystery that you are.
When you are exhausted, may you be refreshed by vibrant life forces always present within and around you.
When the world brushes you with harshness,
may you realize that we're all works in progress, and life itself is a learning curve...
...May you receive earth's bounty to nourish your body, kindness and wisdom to nourish your heart; and wonder to nourish your soul.
Yes, yes, yes!
Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.