Rothko Chapel issues a meditation challenge, with prizes on the line

Look in the mirror. You have changed, haven’t you? Look around. Do you recognize the world that you live in?

In an era where Facebook and Twitter have infiltrated our vernacular and in some ways taken over certain routine activities, it is no wonder that sometimes we reject the land of hyper-information in favor of a much simpler existence.

The way we communicate has changed. The way we relate to each other has changed. The intricacies of everyday life, from the banal to the unique, have the potential to consume our attention.

A brilliant friend explained that we live in a time ruled by the remote control. When our attention span gives up, we simply click off and away we go. We are used to this contemporary convenience.

And then there are our overactive brains. Sleepless nights rule when overcrowded inward conversations fail to quiet into what we hope transitions into sublime bliss.

Can we challenge you to turn it all off? If only for a little while?

It was during a highly stressful time in my life that I discovered the solace of the Rothko Chapel. I participated in their meditation series, incorporating the practice from diverse entry points.

Laughter yoga exercises left me elated, high on life, surprisingly calm and ready to conquer anything that came my way. The Buddhist chanting meditation’s open sonorities — chanting in open fifths is quite a reverberant experience — left a perpetual calming resonance between my temples. The walking meditation focused me spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Although I should work on making meditation, in any form, a common practice, as a part of its 40-year anniversary celebration, the Rothko Chapel issues you — yes you — a challenge.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to meditate 40 minutes everyday for 40 days.

Starting Monday through Feb. 25, spiritual and religious leaders from diverse faith traditions will lead 40-minute silent meditations as a way to renew the Chapel’s mission while fostering contemplation, interfaith dialogue and understanding.

“Over the years, spiritual leaders from the world’s faith traditions have blessed the Chapel with their presence and invited people to reconnect with the healing and transformative power of silence, prayer, and meditation,” Emilee Dawn Whitehurst, executive director, explains. “We invite the public to sit in silence for 40 minutes daily starting at noon and to allow the quietude of the Chapel to inform their daily lives.”

In Dominique de Menil’s words:

It is a place where a great artist, turned towards the Absolute, had the courage to paint almost nothing — and did it masterfully. It is a place blessed by the many people who gather there to meditate, to find themselves and to go beyond themselves. It is a place that was solemnly dedicated to love, to God, to the absolute truth you are after

Aside from the self-implied benefits and perks of such a practice, our friends at Rothko sweeten the pot.

Those who complete the cycle receive the following package, valued at $750:

  • Member Benefits for Life
  • 10 percent discount in Chapel store
  • Subscription to Members newsletter
  • Invitation to annual Members’ program and reception
  • Copy of The Rothko Chapel – An Act of Faith by Susan Barnes
  • Copy of The Artist’s Reality by Mark Rothko, edited by his son, Christopher Rothko

Are you up to it?

[Joel Luks, CultureMap, Houston, Texas]

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