“The infinite possibilities of light have been evident from the beginning of architecture and will continue into the future.”

—Steven Holl, Luminosity/Porosity



Instructor Bio

Mindfulness Instructor Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams is the founder and owner of BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness and a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) with 11 years experience in the fields of education, behavioral and mental health and community programming. She is dedicated to developing accessible yoga and mindfulness programs that transform institutions to promote social change, improve individual awareness and collective well-being. BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness is a community-based business with a mission to bridge yoga, education and community to cultivate a diverse, accessible experience that provides balance to the mind, body and SOUL for the greater impact. Our vision is to bring yoga and mindfulness practices to community spaces by making it accessible to local businesses, corporations, school systems, households, and community organizations to transform the climate and culture of the community.



Welcome to Mindfulness at the Institute for Contemporary Art. I am Ashley Williams, a yoga therapist, meditation practitioner, and founder of BareSOUL Yoga and Wellness. I will be guiding you through a series of meditations exploring four of the many underlying principles that Steven Holl Architects uses to create built environments like the ICA’s Markel Center. 

As you prepare, I invite you to practice focused attention and mindful awareness. Take a moment to clear your space of any non-essential objects.

Anchoring is the theme of today’s meditation. Anchoring is using a building’s location as the foundation for its design. This is a meditation intended to ground yourself in the present moment.

Finding a comfortable seat, sitting on a firm chair or maybe even grounded on the solid floor, begin to invite the feet to be flat and comfortable and relaxed. Allow the legs to be uncrossed. Begin to shift until the body has found comfort. Allow the eyes to close or begin to lower your gaze. Bring awareness to sensations where the body is in contact with the objects supporting it.

Begin to make any subtle shifts to allow yourself to begin to find ease. Release facial expressions, allowing all muscles in the face to begin to once again, settle into ease. Allow settling to begin to flow into the mind as well as the body.

Spend a few moments exploring.

Begin to gather your attention and move it to focus on your feet. Allow your awareness to be spotlighted, and all of the attention to be at both feet. Notice sensations as they arise and dissolve from moment to moment.

Begin to expand your attention now to the lower legs, the knees. Hold both legs at center stage of your awareness. Begin to draw awareness up the body to the pelvis, holding the mid-body at center stage of your awareness. Expanding attention to the fingers, the hands, the arms, and the shoulders. Hold the sensations in the fingers, the arms, the shoulders at center stage of your awareness.

Allow the entire body — from the soles of the feet, to the limbs of the legs, the mid-body, the torso, the chest, and the head — hold the entire physical body at center stage of your awareness. As our mindfulness practice begins, and awareness heightens, invite the gentle reminder that it takes time and patience to settle into the mind, to slow down, to make space. Today we will intentionally bring our awareness to the breath. 

The breath is our anchor. 

I invite you to bring awareness to the breath, and begin to deeply breathe in and out, allowing the breath to be a focal point of your awareness. Continue to breathe deeply for a few breath cycles, while observing your breath in, and your breath out.

Notice the inhale as it flows into your exhale, and your exhale as it flows into your inhale. Notice the breath continue to move on and on. Notice the breath as it flows like an ocean wave coming to shore and rolling out again. Allow the breath to be an anchor. You may notice the breath return to its natural rhythm as time continues. When not controlled, the breath begins to find its own tempo and rhythm. Receive the breath into the body, allowing the breath to be an anchor for ease. Invite it in, and let it flow. Invite the breath in, and let it flow.

Moving attention to each exhale. To breath out is to let go of air. To let go of energy. To surrender to the natural rhythm of the breath. For the next few breath, focus on the exhale as a time to let go.

With each exhale, allow the breath to be an anchor and guide the mind and the body into a sensation of release.

For the next few cycles, find this practice. On the next breath in, make fists with the hands, and exhale, release the grip and let go of the tension. Let go of anything you hold on to and allow it to release. On the next breath in make fists with the hands, and exhale, release the grip and let go of the tension. Feel the sensation of letting go, noticing the ripple throughout the body. Invite yourself into this practice for the next few cycles.

Invite the breath to be the anchor for this very present moment, and notice sensations as they arise. Let go of any anger, tension, negativity, or any sensation heightened at this moment. Continue to tend to the natural breath. Continue to tend to the natural rhythm of the breath. Continue to tend to the natural breath and its rhythm, mindfully. Observing all you can about the breath in this moment.

Our breath is always with us, and using it as a focal point for the present, we cannot go to the past breath, we cannot move into the future breath. The only breath we have is this one in the present moment.

As we allow the breath to be an anchor into our present moment, into our foundational peace, we develop the condition that we can always access our breath. We can always simply and mindfully breathe. As breath continues to move into your mind and your body creating a sense of ease, the breath brings about the familiar state of relaxation and calm. Invite it to show up naturally and smoothly. Let the breath bring oxygen to the brain and the body. Let the sensation of relaxation and calm be felt. Let mindful breathing invite the ease, the softness, and the foundation to your being. 

Now, imagine breathing into the shoulders and the neck. Noticing sensation in this area. Inviting sensation to move down the neck, and the shoulders into the arms and into the hands. Visualize movement of breath into the arms and to the hands to relax fully. Invite breath into the chest, ribs, and abdomen. Open the heart with a sense of lightness, and softness into the belly. Invite the flowing ease, and the calmness of the breath into the body. See the breath move down to the hips, and to the legs. Relaxing the ankles, the feet, with each breath sense the softness of the feet. Sense the breath into each cell of the body. Stay with the breath and each sensation that comes along with it. Continue to practice this tracking of breath and sensation for the next few moments as I become silent.

Noticing the breath, noticing each sensation that comes along with it. As breath continues to be an anchor for this present moment experience, begin to relax the muscles in the face. Begin to allow a lightness to draw towards the top lip, the bottom lip, and raising the corners of the mouth into a subtle smile, begin to bring a deeper breath in and a smoother breath out. Allowing the breath to travel to the fingers, the hands, as they begin to find gentle movement. Allowing the steadiness of the breath to travel into the legs, the soles of the feet, inviting gentle movement. Allow the breath to move energy through the body and the mind. When you are ready, begin to bring awareness back into this space. When you are ready, open your eyes, and know that you can always travel to your breath, as an anchor to invite awareness into this very present moment.

Inviting a deep breath in, and release it out, noticing this very present moment. Invite palms down on the tops of the knees, or bring them towards heart center, pressing them together. Honoring yourself for taking a moment to find space, and to slow down. Thank you for taking a moment to practice mindful meditation.

Peace, peace.