By Shelley Hill Young
Kelly George’s favorite part of yoga class has always been the end, the Savasana, also known as corpse pose, when you lie on your back and completely relax your body and mind. It might look easy, but it can be challenging to achieve the complete state of relaxation.
After Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40 years old, she decided she needed to be more vigilant, that she needed more of the benefits of Savasana in her life, so she sought to learn more about meditation and wanted to learn from the best teacher. She eventually signed up to take a class with Deepak Chopra at the Chopra Center in California.
“I don’t think I ever had felt so great in my life,” Kelly says. She wondered, “Could I have been feeling this calm always?”
Kelly traveled back and forth from to California to Charleston for two years until she earned her teacher certification for meditation from the Chopra Center. She opened Still Soul Studio a little more than a year ago.
Kelly says she was the least likely person anyone would have thought would open a meditation studio. She describes herself as having a driven, Type A personality. She went to New York soon after she graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to get her master’s in counseling and industrial organization and pursed a corporate job in career counseling, assisting companies going through reorganizations and people find new jobs. She balances her work as a career counselor with running Still Soul Studio.
Kelly believes our society is suffering from an epidemic of stress. “I think it’s the epidemic of our time,” she says. “Our bodies aren’t equipped to handle it all.”
Our bodies are in constant fight-versus-flight mode, she says. We used to work and then we went home and we rested and recovered. Now, work is 24/7. There often is not time for the rest and recovery. Meditation, she says, is a way for us to push a pause button and let our bodies rest and recover.
She quotes Deepak, who often reminded his students, “We’re human beings. We’re not human doings.”
“Now, what I’m trying to do is more being,” Kelly says.
With Still Soul Studio, she’s created a space that is safe and comfortable for people to develop and practice mediation. You feel immediately more relaxed as you kick off your shoes and enter the upstairs refuge just off of bustling King Street. Kelly’s voice is comforting and soothing as she leads a packed room through a brief silent meditation, and you somehow are able to forget anyone else is with you and your neverending to-do list.
Benefits of meditation go beyond simply relaxing, Kelly says. They can include lower blood pressure, less reliance on medication, more creativity, calmer focus, better sleep and the ability to be more present, and there are more and more studies that confirm the outcomes, Kelly says.
Kelly says she is drawn to meditation because of the equity of the practice. No matter your health, your age, your religion, you can access meditation and its benefits. Kelly, who is in her 50s, says she is grateful that she has been able to find herself in her late 40s and 50s and to keep growing and learning. It’s made the stumbles along the way worth it, she says.
“At 48, you can start a business, you can learn something completely new, you can grow,” she says.
Kelly says she hopes she’s modeling that for her 20-year-old daughter and for the people who come to her studio seeking peace. She says we’re so often told what our expectations should be. Instead, she says, we should “have the courage to see things differently and be open to where that might lead.”
“When we need to summon up the courage, that’s the place where we need to explore.”