In seeking a symbol to best represent the new Maitri Center for Mindful Living, LLC’s mission, owner Kelly Petrie unexpectedly found it in the sea turtle.

The Maitri Center, which had its grand opening Saturday, Jan. 11, offers classes, workshops and private sessions by appointment centered around wellbeing and mindfulness for all age groups.

Now, the water faring creature can be found throughout the 120 N. Main St. space – the painting adorns a wall in the center’s spacious classroom equipped with yoga mats, comfortable cushions and a neutral color palette of greys, beiges and charcoal greens. A sea turtle sits as a knick knack at the front desk and where students and clients hang their coats before courses.

Petrie said the word “maitri” is sanskrit, which roughly translates to love and kindness in English. Practicing maitri means exercising benevolence toward the self, which extends into the relationships and connections you have with others, she said. Petrie’s background in contemplative education, which is the practice of integrating mindfulness into academic learning, allows her to teach that to her students.

The sea turtle came to exemplify just that, Petrie said, after a friend of hers brought her 5 year old daughter in to help her decorate her new business.

The girl, in a playful and imaginative mood, started pretended to swim around the future classroom floor like a sea turtle, Petrie said. A couple of weeks after that, Petrie said she visited with a longtime high school friend who brought the painting of a sea turtle with her – an impressionist depiction of the creature amidst flowers and green brush.

The educator said she took that as a sign – the sea turtle represents patience, wisdom and longevity in addition to love and kindness – what a human being can achieve through learning how to be more mindful. The painting also gives the center’s main room a grounded and Earthy feel, Petrie added.

Finding the actual space for the center came as a sign to Petrie as well.

After a chiropractic appointment to help her with some shoulder pain, she saw the opportunity to start her business after finding the space was available for lease. And Petrie had built a name for herself as the “mindfulness lady” after working with Oregon’s community and recreation resources and the Oregon School District.

Petrie said she is already thinking of ways to expand the center to teach its students.

The website currently offers adult courses like “Mindfulness Fundamentals,” a yoga series, workshops like “How to Navigate Pain” and private sessions based on what the student wants to learn.

Although Petrie is the primary educator, she plans to invite more experts in to teach – practitioners in pilates, tai chi, yoga and more contemplative practices. And she has more ideas for courses she wants to teach including ways for people to embrace their emotions through maitri and finding wisdom in Earth’s elements, she added.

“(Mindfulness) is quite a profound practice that allows us to take a deep look at ourselves, recognizing there may be things in our lives that we don’t like … we may realize we aren’t necessarily perfect human beings,” she said. “Until we are able to touch into that ... it makes it a lot more difficult to extend genuine kindness out into the world.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.