In the heart of the city’s business district on a street more likely to attract tourists than those seeking spiritual enlightenment, there is a new venture offering a contemporary approach to meditation. Located on Sparks Street, The Peace Room is the city’s first facility dedicated to — and developed specifically for — group meditation sessions.
With a bright reception and lounge area, the space is welcoming and modern. Walk through the custom cathedral doors to the studio space, where shelves of mats, cushions, blankets, and foldable chairs are on one side; the opposite wall is blank, a canvas for visuals that are projected for the themed sessions.
Want to calm your mind and refocus your energy? Try the Grounded Forest class, and surround yourself with leafy imagery. Boost confidence and creativity with their Northern Lights session, or find your inner bliss with a beach-themed class. The Peace Room is also taking advantage of cannabis legalization with Sunday-morning Awake and Bake classes, complete with reggae beats and nature sounds (BYO marijuana). In addition to the visual stimulants, aromatherapy, sound therapy are incorporated — as is touch therapy, though it’s always optional. An instructor guides the class through the 25- and 45-minute classes, walking participants through the experience of exploring a forest, gazing at the night sky, or staring at the ocean. While some meditation styles encourage an empty state of mind, guided meditation offers these various scenes as focal points — a space to escape from current reality (and stress).
The Peace Room was founded by Jean-Luc Boissoneault and his wife, Chelsea, who also founded Free Form Fitness in 2006; after 10 years in the gym business, they sold it and travelled the world, waiting for inspiration to hit. Boissoneault says he wanted to make a positive impact on the world, and after applying to a few not-for-profit organizations in the environmental sector, he decided to take his ambitions in a bold direction.
“People are making bad decisions,” he says, explaining that through meditation, he wants to promote a cultural shift. He jokingly refers to the project as an “awakening factory.” He started with Meditation Mondays on Parliament Hill this past summer, which allowed him to develop a roster of teachers and connect with people interested in the fine art of breathing deeply and letting go of stress.
Indeed, that connection is key to his vision. That’s why The Peace Room foyer is so bright and comfy — it’s meant to encourage mingling before and after classes. For Boissoneault, who practises meditation daily, the challenge is finding like-minded people. He’s inspired by New York’s InScape studio, which is described as “a community space offering meditation, relaxation, mind-opening events, and a shop with intentionally selected self-care products.” Its location near stressed-out Hill staffers and other corporate types is perfect. Boissoneault stumbled upon the vacant property, formerly a Hallmark card store, this past summer and knew right away that it would be the future home of The Peace Room.
The Peace Room is offering something different: an entryway into the world of meditation. While spending time in silence might not seem like a profound activity, it is certainly trending: Google and other corporate giants have done the research and calculated that mindful workers are more productive. And if that doesn’t convince you, the Dalai Lama says that “if every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will completely eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”