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Thursday, November 30, 2023

In a room with only the noise of a buzzing tattoo gun, conversations formulate out of thin air.

For Keri Johnson, a 27-year-old UF student studying religion and nature, and 36-year-old tattoo artist “Sleepy Dave” Kotinsley, a discussion that started about a thesis paper grew into a community meditation group.

Kotinsley, who has been regularly meditating for a year and a half, mentioned that he had an instructor, but he lived out of town. Johnson has been teaching yoga and meditating on her own for about eight years. The two discussed the importance of a community coming together for these types of practices.

Through this need grew their Free Community Meditation Group. The first session was June 1, and there are sessions every Friday. The group is led by either Kotinsley or Johnson at 8:45 a.m. at Sanctuary Yoga, located in the Seigle building, 408 W University Ave., No. 112.

“The sessions last an hour, but it isn’t an hour of seated meditation,” Johnson said. “It starts with 15 minutes of breathing work and stretching, a half hour of seated practice and then we take a couple minutes at the end to check in, talk about the experience and see what worked and what didn’t.“

Johnson and Kotinsley want to focus on and make it known that this is a non-denominational meditation group.

“So it’s all religious affiliations and no religious affiliations,” Johnson said. “We welcome anyone of all levels of meditation. It’s really a community-oriented class, where we are learning from each other.”

The first session the duo hosted had 15 people — a number that they deem a very positive response. The studio can fit about 40 people. Johnson and Kotinsley switch off hosting the group, but the schedule isn’t set in stone.

Hosting the meditation provides them with an outlet to share experiences.

“It’s easy to meditate on your own at home,” Kotinsley said. “It’s the human and community aspect that is very important, and it’s been great for me personally as well.”

Kotinsley said there is no end date planned for the future.

“We want to build something, hopefully something that the community wants to support for years to come,” he said.

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