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Stay Calm: Meditate Yoga and Meditation Center is Here

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 Photo: Courtesy of Meditate Yoga and Meditation Center
Photo: Courtesy of Meditate Yoga and Meditation Center

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We're addicted to massages. We binge-watch Downton Abbey. But we're always looking for more effective ways to relax, and meditation is something we've been meaning to try. And then along came Meditate, now open on Lincoln Avenue. The yoga and meditation studio hosts its grand opening party on Saturday, and we're itching to get in there for some guided meditation and visualization. Trying anything new can be intimidating, so we asked owner Andrew Shykofsky to give us some beginning-meditator tips. Here's what he had to say about mantras, the Lotus position, and floppy sweatpants.

What are the benefits of a regular meditation practice, and how did meditation come into your own life?
Regular meditation is the most precise and versatile tool to process the day-to-day challenges, emotional issues, and conflicts with others, and also find inspiration for creative projects. The benefits of meditating regularly include a much calmer disposition, less emotional reactivity, more energy, and overall a more relaxed life. I felt drawn to meditation in high school, which was a surefire way to be labeled as 'weird.' But somewhere inside I knew it was right for me. I just kept plugging away until I got the hang on it.

What inspired you to open your own studio?
I opened the studio to offer a convenient place to practice yoga and meditation at the same location. Also, I was very frustrated by the stereotypical teachings about meditation, claiming it was all about stilling the mind and focusing on your breathing. Those aspects are rudimentary and at the same time, quite difficult. Meditation is to be used as a way to examine the deeper inner life consciously. Personally, nothing appeals to me more than that sort of exploration—first to understand myself, and secondly to understand others.

What's unique or different about the way that Meditate conducts classes and meditation sessions?
The most unique aspect of what we teach is that meditation is not about just sitting in Lotus position and stilling the mind. For us, it's about calming the three aspects of outer expression—mind, body, emotions—and exploring one's deeper inner self. This is where the soul is, so let's find it and see what's going on in there! Secondly, we wanted to combine yoga and meditation, since yogis often strive for a fuller meditation practice beyond just the physical postures. Those seeking to enhance the benefits of their yoga practice with a more integrative approach can do that here at Meditate.

What's your advice to a beginner meditator?
My advice to beginners wanting to meditate is to first off find a teacher that inspires you, since meditation will take work. Second, recognize that this is kind of like the equivalent of learning an instrument or even a second language. It takes time and dedication so set your expectations accordingly. Generally people experience some very cool unexplainable things early on. But like anything of real value, we do need to commit and stick with it at least for a few months to see if you like it.

How many times a week would you recommend meditating?
Personally it's a daily practice for me. In the beginning, I'd say take a class or two to get familiar with things and then aim for 15 minutes a day, ideally five times a week. The key is to develop the habit, so don't try to do too much too fast and make it so daunting that you want to give up. Make it doable in the beginning until you get hooked.

Is there a mantra or visualization that you can recommend people try first thing in the morning?
I'm not into the Mantra style. I'm not against it, but it has never resonated for me. If people want something to do first thing in the morning, I'd say sit quietly before your day starts and visualize the day going how you'd like it to. Keep it simple, and don't let your critical or rational mind get in the way. Create a movie for how you want things to go. This will move mountains actually.

Since we're a fashion site, tell us: what does one wear to a meditation class?
People should wear whatever makes them feel good about themselves and is comfortable. So probably no floppy sweatpants, since others will see them. And on the other end, don't dress like you are going out for a night on the town. That's not the vibe you're going for. Somewhere in between those two extremes.
· Meditate Yoga & Meditation Center [Official Site]

Meditate

4237 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL