If you go
What: Guided meditation and centering class
When: 6 p.m. Thursdays
Where: Holistic Health & Fitness, 420 Breeze St.
• The class is free and open to the public
Craig At Holistic Health & Fitness there's a steady level of noise. The speakers pump out music while weights clink together.
But, not in the back room.
In the backroom, it's quiet - shockingly so.
A small group of people sit against the wall, legs folded, palms outstretched and eyes closed, just breathing.
As part of the free guided meditation and centering class offered by Holistic Health & Fitness, the people in the room are participating in an ancient Buddhist ritual that has recently found its way back in to the mainstream, teacher Steven Walls said.
Walls, along with Anthony Noble, of A&S Counseling, will be presenting different types of meditation at Holistic Health & Fitness to anyone who is interested.
Walls, who has been meditating for 10 years, said he started presenting meditation to the community as a way to deal with stress and keep it from piling up.
"It's considered cutting edge and modern therapy, but, in truth, it's been around for thousands of years," Walls said. "It's one more tool to have in your bag of tools."
And that tool can be used in many different ways, Walls said.
"It helps in multiple ways," Walls said. "It helps physiologically, by slowing down your heart rate and relieving stress found in muscles.
"And it helps to get rid of some of the clutter in your mind. It keeps you present in the here and now, not focusing on the future or on something that happened five minutes ago or five years ago."
Walls said the meditation is a part of emotion regulation, and being more mindful about one's surroundings.
Karrie Booth, Holistic Health & Fitness co-owner, said the meditation sessions fit in with the entire-body approach of health.
"Whether it's someone wanting to lose weight or any type of physical activity, there needs to be that mental push," she said. "It's about having the mind connected with the body."
Somewhat ironically, Holistic Health & Fitness also sponsors cage fighting events.
While fighting inside a cage might seem like the exact opposite of meditation, Booth said the two are connected.
"A lot of those guys meditate or do yoga," Booth said. "There's so much focus and discipline, just like any other sport - even more than other sports.
"Hurt on one end of the building, healed on the other," she said, laughing. "We can break them and fix them, all in one building."
But, the meditation serves a different purpose for everyone, Booth said.
"There are lots of different techniques - some people will focus on a word or the flickering light of a candle," she said.
"It's not about focus; it's about letting go. It's about getting in tune with your body and your energy and just letting go."
One of the reasons Holistic Health & Fitness decided to have the program is to help participants reduce stress.
"People tend to focus on stress too much," Booth said. "Meditation helps to let it all go, even if it's just for 20 or 30 minutes, then after you realize life's OK, and I'm OK."
Different portions of the meditations focus on different aspects of the mind and body.
During one week, the class may just focus on breathing or breathing into one part of the body.
The classes, Booth said, depend on the participants.
"Last week, it was focused on relaxing one part of your body," Booth said. "But, the sessions can be focused on pain management, or anything the class wants to explore."
The classes are free and open to the public. There will be a meditation class at 6 p.m. every Thursday at the fitness center.