These days, just the thought of getting on a plane, standing in lines, and going through security creates anxiety for even the most gregarious of passengers. Travelers seeking serenity when visiting Milwaukee will find that the bustling city offers several options to practice mindfulness. Whether looking for traditional meditation centers, instructive yoga, floating in a pod, or sitting in a quiet room before boarding a plane, here are a few ways to find calm in or near the city.
Busy visitors who want to pack in as much as possible while traveling may feel exhausted at the tail-end of a trip. Running from shops to galleries to restaurants and making sure to get the perfect Instagram shot can leave even the most adventurous feeling ragged. Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport offers a space to recharge. The meditation room is adjacent to the 3 North Skywalk, and tourists are invited to “Come, Rest, and Renew.” The space ensures the inclusivity of all faiths and is a place of peace where everyone can feel welcome. Visit no matter what time you fly — the meditation room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and though there’s no fee to use the room, donations are accepted.
Where: 5300 S Howell Ave
Voyagers interested in the practice of loving-kindness or Metta meditation will find the Mindfulness Community of Milwaukee a great place to find calm. Paul Norton, the center’s Spiritual Director, invites anyone interested in learning or practicing mindfulness into the center, even if it’s only a one-time pop in on a quick trip. Norton found meditation helped him deal with the stress of being a young physician trying to start a practice while raising a family. “We are believers in daily mindfulness and emphasize mindfulness in everything we do,” he says. The classes are free and great for beginners. Multiple locations offer convenience and ease to attend no matter what part of the city you find yourself.
Where: 1922 E Park Pl
Meditators interested in the more formal Korean Zen practice will enjoy sessions at the Great Lake Zen Center on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. The center is affiliated with the Kwan Um School of Zen in Rhode Island. Susi Childress serves as the Head Dharma Teacher and has been instructing since 2001. To learn more about zen meditation, introduction classes are held on the first Tuesday of each month before practice. The center also offers special events and half-day retreats. If you’re new to the practice, you’re welcome at any session though Childress asks first-timers to arrive 15 minutes prior to the start time for a review of meditation techniques. Check the website to see a schedule of free walk-in intro to meditation classes offered while you’re in town.
Where: 1721 S 81st St, West Allis
For over 30 years the doors have been open to the public at the Milwaukee Zen Center, inviting all to join in Zen practice. The current resident priest, Reverend Reirin Gumbel, offers a regular schedule of insight meditation, weekend dharma talks, and introduction to intensive daily and monthly sittings. Beginners’ instructions and information on Zen practice are available Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM and Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM. “I’m available onsite to have conversations with anyone who may have questions,” Gumbel says. “There’s also a library that is accessible for anyone who is interested in reading.”
As a Japanese-trained monk, Gumbel’s own journey of battling depression lead her to train and later become a monk. “I was suffering and I don’t know that I would have continued [to live] because there was too much pressure in life.” She said that the Zen practice helps her deal with life’s stresses differently now, recognizing that it’s a choice to suffer. The center encourages young adults to participate in solidarity and community building to encourage the practice. Contact the center for information on classes available while you are in town and the current drop-in rates.
Where: 2825 N Stowell Ave
Sitting still isn’t for everyone, but some may find it an enjoyable practice to float away stress. Float Milwaukee offers pods to immerse yourself in, eliminating external stimuli with the goal of renewing the senses. Visitors sit in a 200-gallon tank surrounded by 900 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts, and the water is heated to average skin temperature, all but eliminating the sensation. The goal is to feel as though you are “drifting in empty space.” Each float costs $75, but after the session, you can enjoy a cup of organic tea in the sitting room before reentering the world.
Where: 211 W Freshwater Way
Located north of the city center, the Shambhala Meditation Center offers beginners as well as continuing students meditation instruction through daily sessions. The center’s mission is to provide a supportive and healing environment for those who come seeking to ease their suffering. No prior meditation experience is required to attend, and if you’d like a bit of motivation, instruction is available every first Sunday at 9:00 AM. For advanced meditators, every third Sunday the center offers sitting practice from 9:00 to 10:00 AM in one of the following practices: Maitri Bhavana, the Shambhala Sadhana or Sadhana of Mahamudra.
Where: 2344 N Oakland Ave
Globetrotters suffering from aches and pains may benefit from a Myofascial Release offered at Mindful Matters Wellness. This is a hands-on massage technique in which a therapist applies gentle pressure into connective tissues helps to decrease pain and restore motion. The procedure is a safe and gentle form of bodywork that is extremely effective in improving circulation and body movements. MFR sessions utilize muscle relaxation techniques, as well as guided meditation and breath, and are scheduled for an hour to provide sufficient time for direct treatment. A session is $115 and requires pre-purchase with a credit card to schedule an appointment. Be sure to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. The wellness center also offers pilates and yoga in the studio on Milwaukee’s Eastside.
Where: 1845 N Farwell Ave #200
If you’re looking for little movement with your meditation, check out the Himalayan Yoga & Meditation Center. It offers a wide variety of classes in meditation, yoga, and wellness taught by local faculty with years of training and practice. The center offers workshops and seminars from scholars and teachers from around the world in addition to yoga therapy with visiting yogis. All ages, all levels of experience, and members of all faiths are welcome. HYM’s ancestral practice originates in the authentic Himalayan Tradition, and its community of aspirants here in Milwaukee has been built over 40 years (though it’s as welcoming as ever to travelers). It’s a unique opportunity for both beginning and experienced students of yoga-meditation. Drop-in yoga classes are $15 and $10 for seniors.
Where: 5000 W Vliet St