When you wander into one of Chelsea’s upscale art studios you should expect nothing less than a captivating display of artwork. But on this Tuesday evening, a mysterious circle of chairs underneath soft lighting took the stage at Gallery 151.
Every week, Center of the Cyclone holds a group meditation at a local art gallery integrating the beauty of art into the practice of mindfulness. Founder and meditation instructor, Biet Simkin, created a unique meditation technique merging several systems that guided her own path of effectively shifting the mind.
First, Biet led the group through a chanting meditation. In unison, we repeated three syllables form the word Om (A, U and M). With my eyes closed and both feet deeply rooted into the floor, the room began to vibrate with an invigorating and heating energy. After a few minutes like this, our voices faded into silence and Biet reminded us to return to the one place we can always come back to: the breath.
We continued with some breathwork exercises including one instruction to close off the senses - thumbs plugging the ears, index fingers placing pressure on the eyelids and ring fingers closing the nostrils - then deeply exhaling. “This practice,” Biet explained, “is a way for you to shut off the sensory overload and go deeply inwards.”
Biet next guided us through a traveling mind meditation slowly making our way up an imaginary mountaintop. On our journey up the mountain, we discovered a few kings each symbolizing one of our many emotions such as the king of strength and compassion. The characters, beautifully created through Biet’s descriptive imagery, were there to teach us a lesson and then give us their blessing to be on our way. Her meditative storytelling was an esoteric voyage through the many faces of emotions we carry.
Coming back to our breath (again), Biet asked us to pair up with the person next to us. I turned to my left and introduced myself to the 30-something woman sitting beside me. She extended a handshake, and then we both moved our chairs to face each other. We were instructed to stare into the left eye of our partner and settle into sharing silence for the next few minutes. With a ball of anxiety sitting in my core, I began to deeply stare into this stranger’s eye eventually seeing well past the hazel tones and straight into her soul. As I continued to focus, her luminous beauty became almost too hard to hold.
A lovely song from Biet’s new record (soon to be released) played over the speakers, but any sound seemed miles away from my steady concentration. As the song ended, everything in my peripheral vision began to blur so the only thing remaining visible was a floating eye. My heart began to beat heavier as the blurriness amplified. But as I continued to breathe through the anxiousness, I realized the rays of beauty I saw expand through this woman’s eye was merely a reflection of my own radiance.
Biet gently brought us back to the room and explained that she finds it remarkable how so many of us are only able to recognize our own beauty within someone else.
To close the meditation each person in the room received an individualized blessing equipped with chimes and a feathered aura-cleanser. Biet advised the group that we might feel the effects of these meditations carry over into the next few days. I wondered what she meant by this, but the minute I stepped outside I got it.
What was once an average street I had strolled down hundreds of times was now a radiant canvas of color and liveliness that could only be appreciated while standing in the center of divine presence.