Friday, July 29, 2005



Sheri Block
Calgary Herald

July 29, 2005

As Renata Duma closes her eyes to meditate cross-legged on a low-rise Chinese chair, she is surrounded by the presence of the Buddha, the flickering glow of candles and the calming sound of New Age music.

This sacred space is Duma's newly created meditation room, a place where she retreats every morning to clear her mind before starting her day.
where she retreats every morning to clear her mind before starting her day.

Situated in the upstairs landing of the Calgary home Duma shares with her fiance Morley Brown, the room is filled with a small Tibetan altar, paintings and Asian-inspired furniture.

"I feel very blessed to be able to have such a room that reflects to such a degree the sacred aspect of our lives," says Duma, who has been meditating for about 10 years. "It's an honour to have the ability to put something like that together."

The room was designed by Aly Velji, resident designer with the Calgary firm Ellipses Design. It was inspired by a Thep Thavonsouk painting that Velji and Duma saw on a recent visit to the artist's studio.

The painting, part of Thavonsouk's June Rain series, features three monks walking into a violet mist. Violet is the colour of the highest chakra.

It was so beautiful, says Duma, it brought her to tears.

"You should put things in the room that you love and that speak to you because this is going to be an environment where you go to relax and you want things to inspire you while you're there," says Velji.

While a meditation room may sound extravagant to some, Velji says the popularity is catching on.

"It's becoming more common to create spaces for people, whether it's a small little area in the bedroom or actually a whole room where people can just go and relax," says Velji.

Ironically, Duma says while it is nice to be able to have this room, she wouldn't need a space like this to meditate.

"It's not the space," says Duma. "It's not about a fashion statement. I'm very fortunate to be able to do this, but it could be anywhere."

Tracy Kundell, owner of Avalon Interiors in Thornhill, Ont., and a visiting designer on WTN's The Decorating Challenge, agrees the trend has been growing because people are searching for peace of mind and wellness.

"Lifestyles show absolutely no signs of slowing down. We just get busier and busier, so finding a space where we can just chill is becoming more and more important for people," says Kundell.

"People are realizing the benefits to their health and to their work life if they've got a part of their home that they can relax in."

According to designer Lisa Zinck, co-owner of Calgary's Foresees Imports, a meditation space doesn't have to be in a separate room.

"You need enough space that you can sit; you can create that [anywhere]. I live in a very small house and I've just created a space by my window ... I always light a candle and I like to incorporate a plant or something lively and just a small little Buddha," says Zinck.

"You don't need anything. That's what Buddhism is all about."

Zinck says Buddhas have become so popular -- for both in the home and garden -- that they can't keep them in the store.
It's absolutely amazing, [as well as] pagodas. Having a Buddhist symbol just creates tranquility and mindfulness and we just find that more people are really embracing the culture," says Zinck.

Buddha says: "A mind which is not protected by mindfulness is as helpless as a blind man walking over uneven ground without a guide."



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