Fitness: Close to Om

Is Downtown Portland the Best Place to Achieve Nirvana?

Give your busy brain a break at Pause Meditation.

By Marty Patail December 28, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Pause Meditation

Directly above the ancient Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, Zen awaits. Pause Meditation is perched over one of downtown’s busiest alleyways, a pulsing artery of restaurants, bars, and lines of people pushing into Voodoo Doughnut and Afuri Ramen. Sound insulation? Nope. Is it possible to “zone out” here? Absolutely.

“It’s a misconception that you need to be blissed out and silent,” says Pause cofounder Rena Satre Meloy. “That’s lovely, but in modern life that’s not what we have to work with. Teaching people how to meditate in a setting that’s rich and lively is really helpful.”

Founded in 2015 by veterans of the now-defunct Hush Meditation, the studio embraces a secular practice, presenting traditional Buddhist and spiritual teachings in a scientific light. “While we draw from the ancient wisdom traditions, we’re heavy into neuroscience and science of wellness,” Satre Meloy says. “Our goal is to invite people from all walks of life, whether you have a spiritual background or not.”

The five weekly offerings are relatively cheap ($8–12) and open to all. Meditation, you’ll learn, is not so much about blocking out noise as about accepting and listening to it.

3 Pause Classes

Unplug & Recharge

This 30-minute basic class focuses on breath awareness and paying attention to inner thoughts. “For most of us in day-to-day life, we’re overworking our brains,” says Satre Meloy. “Neuroscience shows we’re frying our prefrontal cortex, the area that’s responsible for decision making. Rest periods are often still activating that part of the brain, whether on social media or going to have lunch with a friend. What people need is a nap, or to give the brain a break.”

Well-Being Is a Skill

Aimed at honing four core skills—attention, outlook, generosity, and resilience—this class adapts the Buddhist practice of metta (translated as “loving kindness”), which involves offering silent words of affirmation and repeating simple phrases like “I wish to be happy.” “If you do arm curls, you’re going to build muscle,” Satre Meloy says. “If you do these exercises over and over, you’re going to develop positive qualities of well-being.”

Happiness Insight

This newer course trains your mind to see positive qualities in your life and recognize ANTs—automatic negative thoughts—triggered by outside events. “A lot of our unhappiness,” Satre Meloy says, “comes from distracted minds.”

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