A trip to India in 2009, is when Fimo Mitchell recalls was the first time he formally meditated. This sparked a paradigm shift in his mindset.
During this time, he was working as a teacher in China, a position he had held since 2002. The trip to the ashram (a meditation centre with no distractions) offered him a chance to learn about meditation.
The sense of tranquility and peace that washed over him after meditating made him reconsider his life and it was then he decided he wanted to incorporate meditation and mindfulness as part of his lifestyle.
We meet, as has been the custom on zoom, his blue background with an Aztec symbol was both calming and inviting. He explained his journey, the importance of meditation, and his future plans in Montreal.
“I think living abroad, living, traveling, questioning. I was a writer before this. I was teaching and writing. I never thought about being a meditation teacher. But life happens, you know, this is all of this is life and responding to life,” he explains.
“When I came back to China after the Holiday (in India) I began to practice meditation every day, and then overtime, I said, oh, you know, I saw what it brought me like, just that sense of like, peace and calm and just more presence and clarity. I said, you know, my colleagues could use this like the students could use this. So that’s when I started to push my principle to say we should do some mindfulness practices at school, and it took a few years. But then they let that happen.”
When he came back to Montreal in 2019, he started offering one on one meditation classes and has since worked with a host of various people and groups.
Soon after he formed the Village Meditates, a non-profit dedicated to providing meditation programs, discussion groups and wellness retreats for racialized and marginalized people.
“Meditation is important for everyone, no matter what your personal beliefs are, it’s a practice that helps you still your mind. I wanted to come home with it and teach my people, people in the community, meditation, and wellness. So, I was really excited about that. And so, I just started.”
As he was beginning to build momentum, the onset of COVID-19 changed things. Mitchell was forced to pivot, as the pandemic put a stop to most physical gatherings. Unsure of what it would be like he decided to continue doing his sessions on zoom. And to his surprise, the turnout was amazing.
“The sessions were full people needed to find ways to navigate the forced stillness from the pandemic,” the meditation guide explains.
As he describes it, meditation is stilling oneself for about 20-30 minutes. And turning one’s gaze inward, embrace the present moment and make the necessary changes to live a happier, healthier and more peaceful life. After each session there will be a time for sharing.
He currently has three offerings: Weekday Mornings from 7am for 10-15 guided meditations. Saturday sessions at 8am for 20 minutes guided meditations. With a 40 minutes listening and sharing session after.
The deep sharing and empathetic listening are highlights of this meditation circle.
There is also When We Talk which is a monthly gathering is for Black people. He describes it as, “a brave and safe space where we come together to see and hear each other in ways that our daily lives tend to prevent. Our conversations focus on issues that concern our community and the world at large. “
For even more inclusivity he is now providing guided meditation sessions for the seniors in the community. The session is dubbed ‘When Elders Meditate,’ and it is a free guided meditation session followed by a time of sharing.
A specialized yoga instructor is always on hand to offer 20 minutes of chair yoga after the meditation circle. The sessions will be held via zoom with the first session beginning on the 2nd of June at 10 am.
His website states: Meditation has many physical and psychological benefits for older adults, including better focus, enhanced calmness, less stress, and improved sleep. Research shows that meditation can reduce depression and pain as well as boost emotional well-being.
And the way Fimo sees it, great things happen when the village meditates.
“When the village meditates, we heal, and we thrive. I know that. I know that there’s going to be pain sometimes. But we can get through it and find balance.”
For more information on the sessions and timing: https://www.whenthevillagemeditates.com