Meditation & Celebration

Relish a moment of silence before jumping into the daily grind.

Written by Rebecca Hammerstein  |  Illustrated by Christine Georgiades

Dawn patrol in the South Bay. While tens of thousands hit the pavement to bustle off to work in a fleet of cars and SUVs, a special 100 or so devotees to the ocean paddle out into the deep blue—riding the California surf as our coastal cities wake up.

An even smaller handful of early morning seekers gathers to meditate—with soft smiles on their faces—in the quiet sanctuary of Dr. John Kim’s Redondo Beach meditation studio. This place is truly the breakfast of champions.

In stillness, a welcoming group gathers to sit—attuned and purified through the artful process of Zen mindful meditation. As the light of dawn streams in through the upper windows of this sacred space, there is a palpable peace.

“As they speak about their experiences, I’m struck by the
grace and ease of their inner revolutions.”

You can’t help wonder what exactly this select group of Beach Cities locals has discovered. Why do their faces glow and their eyes exude kindness? What exactly is going on in this early morning sanctuary? And how, frankly, do I get some?

Afterwards, participants gather round to share with me their individual experiences of meditating. What I notice immediately is that they each speak of revolutionary change in their day-to-day lives once they commenced a meditation practice.

Shifts range from improved health, greater harmony in family and business relationships, effortless ease in daily life, fewer worries, greater abundance, peace and the high art of deep compassion. They each credit their meditation practice as the root of this increased positivity.

As they speak about their experiences, I’m struck by the grace and ease of their inner revolutions. Nothing about these changes and improvements to their daily lives has been harsh or stripping to their personalities. In fact, they find themselves becoming new and improved without even noticing the moment that change occurred.

They also have each graduated to longer and longer chapters of meditation with ease, as well as greater levels of self-knowledge. Starting at less than eight minutes a day of mediation, participants share that they have built up to sitting in daily stillness for longer than they ever could have imagined. And they reap the benefits in their quality of life.

Lauren Forbes, a meditation student and South Bay real estate agent, shares, “Once my meditation practice became super-consistent, anxiety fell away. That’s huge for me. It’s also given me a calmness that is noticeable by myself as well as others. It has helped my sleep patterns—helped me to be in the present, which sounds cliché. But I’ve noticed that I don’t try to multitask, and it has made my life much richer.”

Dr. John Kim, a healer and acupuncturist at Re Nu Mi Wellness Center on Sepulveda Boulevard, has been the catalyst for this meditation group and is passionate about sharing the benefits of Zen meditation. Dr. Kim was instrumental in bringing his guru, the head monk at the Anguk Seonwon—one of the largest Zen centers in Korea, here to the South Bay in

September of this past year for a seven-day meditation retreat. The retreat was open to all, representing a rare opportunity to study with a meditation teacher of this caliber.
Dr. Kim and his team of local volunteers are planning another Los Angeles breakthrough meditation retreat with Zen master Subul Sunim for seven days in June. Once again, the retreat will be open to all.

Subul Sunim teaches a particular dispensation of the Ganhwa Seon (Zen-questioning meditation.) This form of meditation has roots in Korea for more than 800 years and has similarities with Japanese Zen meditation.

The Venerable Subul Sunim teaches that “all people have Buddha nature; the path to enlightenment is open to all without exception.”

The benefits of meditation are many. It is well known to equilibrate the body into radiant health; increase energy; reduce stress; improve personal relationships; offer inner guidance and clarity; provide a sense of calm, peace and balance; and alleviate anger, anxiety and depression.

Dr. Kim explains: “Everyone understands homecoming. So what’s so hard about meditating? You do the meditation, and you have a homecoming. You come home.

Then you grow in compassion. That’s a new plant living in you. Then you go out and help others.”

Meditations are held weekly at 816 Juanita Avenue, Unit A in Redondo Beach and are open to all. No RSVP required. Sessions are held Fridays, 6:45 to 8.a.m., and  Saturdays, 6:45 to 8 a.m. and 8:10 to 9 a.m. For further information about the weekly mediations and the June meditation retreat, contact Christine Fontana at [email protected].