Meditation studio opens in downtown Elgin
Elgin's first dedicated meditation studio is open and ready to welcome people in all its serenity and mindfulness with an open house Friday.
Still Life Meditation, on the top floor of the downtown Burritt Building at 25 S. Grove Ave., "is designed to be a haven apart from the stressors and concerns of busy daily life," its website says.
Owner Rachel Elizabeth Maley, 28, said she's excited at opening her first business, which she wanted to launch in April but had to delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "There was so much uncertainty and, kind of, trepidation about what was happening ..." she said. "Now it's here and I'm excited, but I'm also like, 'Oh my gosh, it's here. It's happening.'"
There are a few dedicated meditation studios in Chicago and the suburbs, although many yoga studios, churches, temples and other places offer sessions or courses. Maley said she's been particularly influenced by Zen philosophy but her studio isn't associated with any one school or religion.
Her studio has a variety of offerings: free morning practice; meditation classes at $16 per class, with discounts for packs of five and 10; and workshops at various prices such as Saturday's "sound bath" with singing bowls, drums and gongs and Sunday's "introduction to mindfulness."
People must take off their shoes and place their electronics in lockers before entering the meditation room. Face masks covering nose and mouth are required.
The room has high ceilings and natural light from expansive windows facing west, with sheer blinds to dim the ambience if needed. The decor is sparse, simple and streamlined and the place is quiet, with the HVAC system softly humming in the background.
There is a small retail section with a focus on local and sustainable products such as house plants, incense and beeswax candles. Maley plans to launch a book club, with the first title to be announced next week, and the books will be available for purchase at the studio.
Maley grew up in Aurora and lives in Hoffman Estates, but has strong ties to Elgin.
She played the French horn with the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, for which she later worked for about five years. She's also an artist, mostly in abstract painting and water colors, and lived at Elgin Artspace Lofts and was artist-in-residence at Side Street Studio Arts in downtown Elgin, she said.
"I have a lot of affection for Elgin," she said. "I think it's really exciting to be creating something at a time when Elgin is going through a revitalization."
Maley said she started practicing meditation at about age 15 while attending Catholic school and after learning more about religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. On her 20th birthday, she spent a week at the San Francisco Zen Center, her first exposure to formal meditation.
"You may really enjoy going to yoga class and find that very fulfilling and calming, but if you don't have that sense of calm every other time in your life, what are you really getting out of this?" Maley said. "Zen is really interested in taking those principles and those insights that you gain while meditating, and saying, 'How do I really live a life that embodies all those principles?'"