DRIFTING AWAY: Chris Owen (centre) takes time out with meditation instructor Jacinta Harding (right) and Ray Ward.
DRIFTING AWAY: Chris Owen (centre) takes time out with meditation instructor Jacinta Harding (right) and Ray Ward. David Nielsen

It's lunchtime, so chill

WHEN I nervously joined Ipswich's newest meditation circle, I half expected to be asked to sit on the floor, cross my legs and chant some ancient Tibetan mantra.

But it was nothing like that when I ventured along to Optimum Health's new facility in Sadliers Crossing to see what lunchtime meditating was really all about.

Instead I was seated in a room and taught to calm my mind to the soothing sounds of flowing water and meditation music.

The last time I'd done anything like this was during "relaxation time" in Year 4 at primary school.

Venue owner and meditator Jacinta Harding said she had established the circle following public demand.

"We don't chant 'ohm' and people are encouraged to sit comfortably," she said.

"A lot of people believe with meditation they have to completely turn off their brain and are not supposed to think about anything.

"That is a falsity. What you are really turning off are your stressful thoughts such as the pressures of work, to what you're going to make for dinner."

When the meditation circle began, I was one of a group seated in a room scented with aromatherapy oils.

Ms Harding explained the session was a non-guided meditation.

She said she would lead us into the meditation, which would last about 45 minutes.

"The aim is to focus on your breathing," she said.

"Try and concentrate on the music and find yourself drifting away from any stressful thoughts and focus on the sound of water heard in the music.

"When you do the breathing exercises, you are breathing out the garbage you don't want, and breathing in nice thoughts.

"At the end - as we come out of the mediation - I will talk again, to ground you so you don't walk out feeling like you are completely out of it."

Now my job isn't as stressful as, say, an air traffic controller or a front-line soldier - but it has its moments.

So, when the tranquil sound of trickling waters and relaxing music began, I enthusiastically began the breathing technique as instructed.

And it seemed to work.

I could feel the stresses melting away with each deep breath.

At the end of the meditation, we were asked to open our eyes and speak amongst ourselves about the experience.

This apparently is the key difference between meditation sessions and meditation circles and helps set intentions for what people would like to work on.

When I left Optimum Health I felt more relaxed than I had in years - maybe since Year 4.

Meditation circles were introduced at Optimum Health about a month ago, and take place each Tuesday at 5.15pm and Wednesday at 12.15pm.

The one-hour sessions give people the chance to calm their mind before they start, or finish, their job - or even during their lunch hour.

Optimum Health is located on 10 Burnett St. For more information, phone 3812 2806.

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