The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Featured Org of the Week: Sitting @ Mac

By Patricia Wright

This week, The Mac Weekly’s Patricia Wright joined Sitting @ Mac for a walkthrough of a typical meeting. Upon entering the doors of Weyerhaeuser Memorial Chapel for Sitting @ Mac’s first meeting of the year on Sept. 2, a calm silence and the sight of students perched in makeshift lotus positions on large blue cushions greeted me. The session began at 4:30 p.m. and was led by K.P. Hong, Protestant Chaplain and associate director of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and Needham Hurst ’11, co-founder of Sitting @ Mac.

After instructing everyone on the best way to position themselves on the cushions, chairs and pews, Hong turned it over to Hurst, who discussed the events of the meeting which included chanting, walking meditation and a 30 minute sitting period. Hurst began the chant, which was called Maha Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra, inviting everyone to join in when they felt comfortable.

A short walking meditation involved slow steps around the aisles of the chapel followed the chanting. Everyone returned to their cushions at the sound of a bell rung by Hong who instructed them to allow their eyes to go into a soft focus and silently count out ten cycles of breathing, with an inhale and exhale being one cycle. Hong signaled the start of the 30-minute sitting session with another ring of a bell and each person fell into a silent rhythm that filled the open chapel. To avoid distractions, Hong told everyone to merely acknowledge any thoughts or sounds they might experience and then go back to counting cycles.

“By taking our seat, we vow to be completely intimate with whatever arises–painful or wonderful. For me, stopping and facing myself without the armor of egotism, aversion or attachment is a lesson that continually informs my daily life,” Hurst said.

“[The club] seemed like a tight-knit community that has a unique way of dealing with everyday problems,” Kerry Alexander ’12 said. “It was enlightening, and I was proud of myself that I could sit for 30 minutes.”

There will be a meditation retreat in October for students who want to deepen their mediation practice.

“This retreat is a one day, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., silent retreat. It consists of mindful sitting, walking, eating and yoga meditations. People of all religions, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations or any other identities are invited. No experience required,” said Hurst.

Sitting @ Mac meetings are held in the mornings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00- 9:30 a.m. and are only sitting mediation. There are longer meetings on Tuesdays, from 4:30- 5:45 p.m., and on Friday, from 4:30- 6:00 p.m., which involve chanting, walking and sitting meditation.

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