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Bringing a small flavor of the East to UConn

By Zarrin Ahmed
On April 24, 2014

If you missed out on Fresh Check Day at the Student Union on Thursday, check out The Conduit vibration meditation at Hillside Road where the program will run again on Saturday.
Walking through the lobby of the Union, there usually aren't five people blindfolded and reclining in zero gravity lawn chairs with gongs surrounding them. The workers from The Conduit Center in East Hartford operated other instruments to create a zen-like meditation space.
Though the four large gongs that surrounded the participants provided deep sounds and vibrations, Tibetian singing bowls are also used to create a state of relaxation. The set up included Persian floor rugs, and a table decorated with an Indian tapestry, on which there were fliers for events and pins that read "I Got Gonged At Fresh Check."
Seeing the set up and the participants is a different story from experiencing the meditation. Led by Owen James, participants are asked to put "mindfolds" over their eyes while workers recline them in the chairs. James gave some information about the Conduit Center and about Fresh Check Day, where we are encouraged to "check in with ourselves." He assured the participants that there are many resources available for ourselves and for others, in order to achieve peace by checking in and relying on ourselves and others. The purpose, James said, is to "connect to a place neither here nor there - just a state."
The sounds from the Student Union were loud, but soon accompanied by the first rattles of a gong. Owens and the other workers did not speak a word as they created more sounds and vibrations, often having to reach for other instruments while keeping the one in their hand close to the meditators.
"We try to create a landscape of sound," Owens said. Halfway through the meditation, he brought in the ocean drum, which imitates the sounds of rolling waves. "Vibrations are our paint and we try to layer with texture."
The collection of vibrations from the gongs and instruments drowned out the sound of the crowd. The meditation took participants out of their present surroundings into a new one, perhaps one filled with sounds of the ocean and chimes from a bungalow.
"We all go to a different place," Owens said, "It may be different next time. The point is to step our of ourselves."
As the last chimes of the gong and the ocean drum faded away, the noise from the Student Union filled the space that was once created for meditating sounds.
In a culture where people are constantly thinking and not feeling, it's important to step out of ourselves and detach, Owens believes. This ensures a good relationship with ourselves and with reality.

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