Supermarket Meditation: Easing Grocery-Induced Stress

Nov 25, 2014

For some people, grocery shopping is stressful.  They’re out of crunchy peanut butter.   The price of lettuce is up again, and the line at checkout is way too long. But one store in Richmond has found a way to ease the pain. 


Elwood Thompson’s supermarket sits at the corner of Elwood and Thompson in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood.  It offers locally grown, organic produce and meats, whole grains and nutritional supplements, natural cleaning and beauty products, and a spot upfront to relax over a green tea latte or some freshly squeezed juice.

“There’s a lot of stress in this culture.”

That’s Rick Hood, the owner and co-founder of Elwood Thompson’s - a hub of human harmony.

“There’s a gathering spot kind of feel here - a mindset around consciousness - especially environmental and social consciousness and health consciousness,” he adds.

  Which is why each Tuesday at 12:15 and 5:30, customers are invited, over the store’s public address system, to unwind.

In the 600-square-foot community room, a dozen people sit in a circle, partaking of guided meditation with Denise Dolan.

You can hear the espresso machine outside and the chirp of scanners at the registers, but shoppers have happily settled in for an hour of relaxation.

“I meditate in my apartment, outside at the park, in my car - yeah, at the grocery store, definitely,” says Elissa Calvert.

“You can mediate anywhere, so I don’t think the location is necessarily odd.  It fits in perfectly,” adds Anthony Borozzo. 

“I love it.  It’s convenient to go here after work and meet lots of new people.  I’ve been coming here over a year now.  I try to plan my shopping after coming here actually,” says Susan Clark.

And they’re not alone.  Dolan says her sessions are surprisingly popular.

“I’ve brought in probably 700 people into meditation over the last two years.”

And when Dolan’s not plying her trade, others are drawing customers to learn about green building, crowd-funding, mindful eating, responsible travel, dancing the Lindy hop, and growing your own mushrooms.