Denise Baran-Unland, Herald-News, Chicago: A small, quiet flash mob assembled Dec. 22 at the New Lenox Public Library and, instead of singing, they mediated, leaving behind a spirit of calm, serenity and stillness.
The event was soothing and educational for participants and those spectators unaccustomed to the mechanics and benefits of meditation. More than 20 cities worldwide participated in meditation on the same night, said Michelle Ann Frank, founder of MedMob South Suburban Chicago.
“Some people think meditation is religious, that’s it’s about worshipping false gods or that it’s for pot-smoking hippies, but science has shown we’re wired for this,” Frank said. “I just want people to know all the good it can do. We’ve have the Occupy movement, but this is a way to change things without saying one word.”
The New Lenox Library will host a second MedMob on Saturday. Frank’s chapter is part of a worldwide movement to send positive energy into the world through meditation. Frank will offer meditation instruction prior to the event so even the uninitiated may participate if they wish.
The basic method Frank will demonstrate is a simple process of mentally tracking one’s breathing. Sitting cross-legged on the floor is not mandatory. One may successfully meditate from a chair.
“We want you to be comfortable, enjoy the experience and not have any goals in mind,” Frank said. “If you find yourself planning your grocery list, just come back to concentrating on your breathing.”
Frank understands the misconceptions surrounding meditation. She herself experienced them 10 years ago when she first began meditating. Then, Frank thought proper meditation meant ceasing to think. When that did not happen, Frank became frustrated until a teacher simplified the process for her.
“He explained how the act of the mind is thought, so meditation is not about shutting off all thought, because you are going to think,” Frank said. “You just don’t want to get wrapped up in your thoughts while you are meditation. From that point on, I meditated every day.”
Library welcomes group
Kate Hall, director of the library, said inviting MedMob South Suburban Chicago is part of the library’s overall mission: to provide a variety of educational resources to its patrons. Hall had even created a display of supplementary meditation materials for the December event, which she will repeat Saturday.
“So many people today are looking for ways to relieve stress and become healthier, more balanced and centered,” Hall said. “This fit in well with it.”
Dulcinea Hawksworth of Joliet, who attended the December event and plans to participate in the next one, feels the overall environment of the library prepares one to meditate.
“The coffee shop has cinnamon rolls and a lot of wonderful windows close to the landscaping,” Hawksworth said, “so you can sit down, enjoy your coffee and a good book while looking out a window at the beautiful scenery.”
Some people believe prayer and meditation are identical — because they both stress focus — but Hawksworth sees one distinct difference.
“When you pray, you are asking the universe for what you need,” Hawksworth said, “but when you meditate, you get the answer. If you are not meditating, you are not listening.”
The one-hour event concluded with an 11-minute sound bath, where those meditating chanted a single syllable — such as Om — or created certain tones with a singing bowl. At the sound bath’s conclusion, the mob was done.
“People chant at their own pace and men have different voices than women,” Hawksworth said, “but it all came together because it’s the same two or three sounds repeated.”