Shakti, mindfulness tour rolls through Prineville
Blake Beltram realized when he rolled through town on Tuesday towing a massive bronze statue of an unclothed meditating woman that he might confuse people.
"I'm sure a lot of people had a moment where they wonder 'What is that?' – where they are completely bewildered by what it is," he said. But in one sense, that was part of the idea behind his actions and the mindfulness tour that he launched this past week.
Beltram was born in Prineville in 1965 and for most of his life has had family living in the area. He lived here until 1973 and remembers attending Ochoco Elementary School.
"I spent my formative years here," he remarked.
He now lives in San Luis Obispo, California, where he co-founded Mindbody, a technology company that makes software for fitness boutiques and wellness businesses. About six years ago, he met bronze artist and eventual good friend David Van Zandt, another San Luis Obispo resident.
Beltram watched the artist create a clay form of the meditating woman, which he named Shakti. The name means "life force energy."
"I just felt really taken with her, and as a meditator, I started spending some time with her in clay form and started bringing small groups of people to meditate with her," he recalls.
He stresses that Shakti doesn't represent a certain religion or group and is not affiliated with anything.
"It simply represents a yoga pose, a meditative pose, and really just taking a moment to take a breath and to drop into a moment of awareness or nothingness in a time when we are so distracted with our phones and social media, technology and all of the bad news and 'against-ness' that is going on in the world," Beltram explained. "She represents taking a pause from that."
The small groups of people he invited to join him in meditating with Shakti started having amazing experiences, Beltram remembers.
Then, about a year and a half ago, the idea for his current mindfulness tour came to him while he was sleeping.
"I had a dream one night and in the dream," he said. "I saw myself carrying her around the country on a flatbed trailer and doing a meditation mindfulness tour."
Beltram took action shortly thereafter, but preparation work to haul a more than 7-foot-tall bronze statue that weighs more than 500 pounds was a bit daunting. He had to pick out the towing rig – decorating it with mindfulness tour logos and website addresses – and find a flatbed trailer and a winch to load and offload the statue.
Finally, two weeks ago, he decided it was time to take Shakti on the road. The 10-day tour opened with some stops in the Portland metro area, where he conducted a couple of pop-up meditation events. From there, he came over the Cascades, arriving in Prineville shortly after sunset last Monday night.
The following morning, he took Shakti on a tour of Prineville, making several stops throughout the town. Though he was well aware that a massive bronze statue of a woman in a yoga pose would catch some eyes – and raise some eyebrows – he welcomed the curiosity.
"That's part of what the mindfulness tour is about," he said, "just that moment of people encountering her and just having a moment of not knowing what it is and wondering what it is."
While that sort of response was expected, some didn't express bewilderment. One person in Prineville recognized Shakti, Beltram said, and it spurred a conversation about her.
"Some people actually get it," he said. "I have some people give me thumbs up and I had one lady in Mt. Shasta come up and give me a hug without saying anything." Beltram moved onto his next destinations – the college towns of Corvallis and Eugene – but before leaving Prineville, he swung by his old childhood home and planned to check out a few other landmarks from his childhood.
After the visits to the Willamette Valley, he planned to head back home to San Luis Obispo with his first of multiple tours in the books. More will follow as he takes Shakti to locations throughout the country via a series of road trips that will range from 10 days to a month or more in duration.
"It's everything from just driving around and having random chance encounters with people to pop-up events like we did in Portland," he said. "And there will be some planned events as well."
To learn more about the mindfulness tour, go to www.shaktisjourney.com.
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