The Story of Satva Center

Once upon a time… there was Satva

How did the Center come into being?
Before SATVA came into manifestation, the Center was seeded into a vision I had while meditating. The vision showed me a “portal of the Spirit.” A place where spiritual work, healing and knowledge from different traditions was going to take place and teachings honoring all spiritual paths were shared.

What was the calling to develop the Center?
I was called a “joyful pioneer” while directing the Trinity Enrichment Center in Davenport, IA and also while organizing two regional conferences on Science and Spirituality in 2006 and 2007. These two events grabbed the attention of our community, the media, and the medical field. However, I realized that in order to expand and go to the next level I had to create my own Center and keep my commitment to raise awareness and bring the best complementary alternative healing methodologies to the Q.C. community in …One Sacred Space.

Where is the Center located?
SATVA, in fact, is a holistic Center located at 709 19th St. in the beautiful Broadway Historic District in Rock Island. My husband John Hawry, who is also the Tai Chi instructor at SATVA, and I had to go through a meeting with the Preservation Committee and two City Council meetings in order to obtain a special use permit for the two historic buildings: the permit was granted unanimously with the full support (none opposed!) of our community. John and I walked together to and from the City Council, only a few blocks away from our home and the Center, feeling like George and Mary in “It’s a Wonderful Life”: the richest people in town, thankful for such wonderful support from people in the community. At the City Council meeting we were so touched by many people who talked so lovingly and passionately about their trust in us and in our longterm commitment to the Broadway District, the City of Rock Island and the wellbeing of the Q.C. Community.

What physical resources do you have at the Center?
The two buildings that are part of the Center today are, in fact, an alternative and unique use of two historic houses John and I worked together to restore and landscape. They are now the Meditation and the Healing Arts buildings as well as the Shanti Park of the SATVA Center. What was once a jungle is now a beautiful, serene garden where John built a charming pond with fish and water lilies, whose beauty was captured by Nik, our friend and web developer, in a photo that has become our logo.

Why did you choose SATVA as the name for the Center and what does it mean?
The word “SATVA” came straight from my mouth when John asked me for a word that had a universal meaning in more than one ancient tradition and was charged with spiritual significance. In that moment the name of the Center was chosen! SATVA is a Sanskrit word that means “Truth” or the “Highest, the Purest, the most Spiritual level”. Indeed our vision, intention, and purpose for the Center are the highest and the purest.

When did you open the Center?
On October 8-9-10, 2008 SATVA Center had its official Grand Opening with three days of body, mind and spirit celebration. The Quad Cities was thus part of a historic event: the U.S. premiere appearance of its guest speaker, Giovanni Maria Pala, international author and musician who had just discovered hidden music, ancient letters and symbols in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. A mystery revealed after five hundred years, the research work and discovery that the world, national papers and TV such as CNN and BBC have been talking about in the previous year was now available through the grand opening of the SATVA Center, along with the world premiere of the orchestra arrangement based on the melody embedded in the painting! The event was graciously hosted and filmed at the Broadway Presbyterian Church, the perfect setting where the guests were engaged by all the instructors during a mini fair of all the Healing Arts, treatments and programs offered at SATVA.

What programs do you offer?
At SATVA we offer the best of holistic programs and healing approaches/treatments available, including Meditation, Reiki, Yoga, T’ai Chi, Thai Massage, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Iridology, Spiritual Teachings from all ancient traditions and Retreats…all in One Sacred Space. To enter SATVA Center is to enter sacred ground and many immediately feel the special, peaceful energy of its place. People come to enjoy its beauty both indoor and outdoor. Shanti Park has its pond, fish, plants, trees, birds, with the fire circle and labyrinth, where peple can rest, relax, and rebalance. Our instructors are special professionals truly committed to serve generously and with a pure heart.

How does the Center also serve the Buddhist community?
SATVA Center has other significant ties to the Q.C. culturally diverse community. In fact, it also responds to the needs of the Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thai population in the Quad Cities by offering a Buddhist spiritual center where they have services on Saturdays and Sundays in respect to their cultural beliefs. Without having the Meditation Building at the Satva Center they would have to drive to Rockford for their nearest Buddhist Temple. What a joy it has been to provide a place of worship for them, and to get to know so many South East Asian families and share their traditions and ethnic food after their special ceremonies! They all know “Rita and John” and call us by our first names.
SATVA hosts the Buddhist Education Center and Temple of the Quad Cities led by Venerable Somnieng, a Buddhist Monk from Cambodia, who periodically resides in the Meditation building and blesses our place with his holy presence, kindness, and service. Everybody in the Quad Cities seems to know “the Buddhist Monk who goes to St. Ambrose University”, wears orange robes and teaches Mindfulness meditation. He even helped paint the buildings when, on a few sunny Sundays, many volunteered their time to give a fresh look to the Center and gathered together to alternate prayers and meditation with laughter, a meal and hard work! Among them was a group of meditators from the Mindfulness Community of the Quad Cities that SATVA hosts in its Illinois location. They come every Sunday afternoon to meditate with Somnieng and often partiipate in a retreat or special event.

And your private residence is located here too?
The Center has also a legacy with Minnie Potter and the Potter House, as it is on part of the property or just next to it. The main house continues to be a private residence. Minnie Potter was a woman ahead of her time, well educated, committed to serving the community, (e.g. she would open the ballroom on the third floor for the children to come and take dance lessons!) informing and educating the community with help of Maple Leaf Online Casino through the Argus, the newspaper she owned (e.g. she fought the gangster John Looney in her paper). I feel a legacy with her and the same strong commitment to educate our community, to raise consciousness and offer what I think every community should have: a holistic Center with all the possible available preventive treatments and healing methodologies to balance body mind and spirit, to honor and teach about all spiritual traditions.
This is the SATVA story…a labor of love, a gift of many and its narrative continues to unfold.

Rita R. Melissano

The Satva Video – From Oct. 2008

Welcome to Satva Center from satva center on Vimeo.