City Guide 2022 | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

City Guide 2022 

City Weekly’s 18th annual celebration of all things SLC

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  • Courtesy Photo

Get Your Chant on
breathe deep and raise your vibration at Meditation SLC.
By Lexie Levitt

With his unassuming demeanor and ski goggle tan, Rob Wallace in no way resembles your typical guru. By day, Wallace is a snowboarding instructor and landscaper, but by night, he leads groups in a unique and engaging form of meditation.

Wallace was introduced to yoga, meditation and Eastern philosophy while working at a bike shop in Colorado. As his life began to change in profound ways, he felt inspired to share his practices, so when he moved to Salt Lake City from Colorado in 2010, he started Meditation SLC.

Wallace follows the Vaisnava tradition of Bhakti yoga which, in simplified terms, views devotion as a spiritual practice. For the past 12 years, Wallace has offered free classes and events on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. that are open to the public. Donations are accepted to help defray program costs, space rental and learning materials, but neither Wallace nor his volunteers are paid for their time.

When asked why he offers these programs at no charge, Wallace said the intent is to make the practice available to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. "It's part of the philosophy," he said. "It's part of the teaching that this practice is meant to be offered without financial obligation."

The scene at a Meditation SLC event is what you might expect at a yoga retreat, with attendees sitting cross-legged on the ground or on meditation cushions, but the auditory experience is entirely different from a silent group meditation practice. Instead of sitting quietly and observing their breath, attendees chant mantras (repeated words and phrases with a spiritual meaning or quality) and engage in a practice called kirtan, which is call-and-response singing with live musical accompaniment.

According to Wallace, this form of meditation actively engages the body and the senses in order to focus the mind. Teaching practices that are simple and approachable is important to Wallace because his ultimate goal is for individuals to develop their own personal, daily meditation practice.

To that end, Meditation SLC offers three programs, the first—Introduction to Mantra Meditation—teaches three meditation methods (Gauranga breathing, Japa chanting, Kirtan call-and-repeat chanting) as well as the philosophy behind mantra meditation and its potential benefits.

"Some people who attend are more interested in just doing the meditation. They're not quite as interested in the philosophical aspect of it," says Wallace, "so we offer a program that's available for that interest."

The Thursday night class is for those wanting to understand the philosophy behind the practice. In that class, selected passages from the Bhagavad-Gita, an ancient text in the yogic tradition, are read and discussed.

Finally, Sunday Night Kirtans provide an opportunity for like-minded individuals to meet one another and engage in the call-and-response meditation practice. Wallace makes a concerted effort to explain what meditation is and why it can be beneficial at the beginning of every class for all newcomers.

Meditation SLC's events attract people of varying ages and from diverse backgrounds. According to Wallace, the common thread is that attendees are looking to move in a more positive direction in their lives. Some simply seek to relax and slow down. Others come in hopes of quieting an overactive mind and fostering a greater sense of peace, calm and equanimity. Still others are searching for answers to the deeper questions in life. "People looking for any of these different things can attend our programs and take interest in it to whatever degree they want," Wallace says.

During winter months, Meditation SLC's events are held at Meet Me on 33rd in the Millcreek area. In the summer, events are held on the lawn of Sugar House Park. The Tuesday and Sunday evening events are also livestreamed on Facebook and Instagram for those who cannot attend in person. Interested persons can sign up for events on

The pandemic caused some minor changes to programming. Masks are optional for those who have been fully vaccinated (without proof of vaccination, masks are required), and the vegetarian meal that typically follows Sunday Night Kirtan has been temporarily discontinued but is expected to resume in the summer.

Meet Me on 33rd
1565 E. 3300 South, SLC

Sign up for events:
Learn more on Facebook:

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The last word w/
Nathan Chen
By jerre wroble

At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Salt Lake's native son, Nathan Chen—the "Quad King"—broke records with his electrifying "Rocketman" free skate that earned him a gold medal. He also helped the U.S. win a silver in the team event (which has yet to be awarded awaiting the outcome of a doping investigation involving the Russian team). Completing his medal collection was the bronze he earned for the same team event at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018.

Chen is also a three-time World Champion (although he did not compete this year due to a "nagging injury"). Salt Lakers only wish him well and consider the 22-year-old Chen as "family." After all, he took his first breath here. You can still find You Tube videos of Chen as a 3-year-old, skating at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex near the U of U. "I don't remember much," he says of those early competitions, "but I remember loving the challenge of skating and trying to learn new things. I wanted to show my improvement to my coach, and I was simply trying to skate my best!"

Chen went on to attend Hawthorne Elementary and even West High for a short time before relocating to Irvine, California, to train for the Olympics.

The ice rink was his domain, but so was the dance studio. Training with Ballet West Academy for many years, Chen graced the stage of the Capitol Theatre as a cast member of Ballet West's annual Nutcracker performances.

After the 2018 Games, Chen enrolled at Yale University, where he reportedly studied statistics and data science. He took a pause from school in 2020 in advance of the Beijing Olympics.

What is next for Chen? We caught up with him to find out what his plans are.

One thing is locked in: Chen's celebrated return to Utah at the 2022 Stars on Ice on Wednesday, May 18, at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Joining Chen will be Alysa Liu, Jason Brown, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Mariah Bell, Mirai Nagasu, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier. (Tickets start at $30 and are available at

You've said in other interviews that the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City inspired you to pursue Olympic skating. But you were barely 3 at the time!

Nathan Chen: I watched the games on TV but was too young to enter any venues. My sisters were "Children of Light," so they got to perform in the opening ceremonies.

How did Ballet West fit into your early years?
Ballet is a great fundamental for all styles of dance and movement, and that's definitely the case for skating as well. I always was a part of the annual Nutcracker production. I loved that performance as my whole family had participated in it through the years. Our end-of-year recital was also always a fun way to finish off the ballet year. Dancing was a way to improve my skating, and so skating always took precedent for me. I did thoroughly enjoy my time at Ballet West, though.

Where is "home" these days?
College [at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut] will be home for me after I finish the tour.

In 2018, our then-county mayor, Ben McAdams, designated May 16 as "Nathan Chen Day" in Salt Lake County. Might we look forward to your return visit each May so we can mark the occasion?
Absolutely! I will be back in SLC coincidentally right around that time for Stars on Ice.

What do you look forward to doing when you get back to Salt Lake?
I'm a huge Utah Jazz fan, and that is a great reason to visit.

Any tips for newcomers to Salt Lake City?
Of course, enjoy the mountains and snow! I lived really close to H-rock, so I would walk around that from time to time. Utah has a lot to offer, and sports/recreation is abundant.

Do you crave any Utah foods?
Crown Burger was always be a go-to. I'm a fan of Red Iguana as well.

What big goal is next on your list?
Graduate college!

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