I recently wrote that I am a big fan of public meditation techniques.
Naseem Khan was a big critic of the recent flash mob in Trafalger Square in London
England, she has changed her mind about public meditation techniques.
Writing about the Trafalger Square meditation flashmob in The Guardian, she starts her fascinating editorial with the following headline –
“Meditating in public places has always made me uneasy, but this flashmob was half an hour of the purest sanity”
Ms. Khan goes on to explain how she feels uneasy with public meditation — that it is overly pious, or being ostentatious with your spirituality, or just perceived as weird or smug. Even at an event with the wonderfully humble Thich Nat Hanh, she felt a sense of “holier than thou” which would surely have horrified Hanh.
have a history of unease about meditating in public places. It has never seemed to be putting out clear or useful messages. When I lived in New Mexico, a group was organised to meditate near the base at Los Alamos where the atomic bomb had been developed. It felt as if we were sitting there as an overt display of an alternative: the good outside the gates and the bad inside. But what did we achieve? Whom did we convince, or whom did we sway? Coasting along on a cloud of conscious virtue is often too easy a ride.At Los Alamos there was, it must be admitted, a sense of gravitas. Ambling in a long line after Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh felt plain silly. “Tai” had given a talk in Caxton Hall, with his usual gentleness and luminosity. He then proposed we all follow him out of the doors in a slow walking meditation to St James’s Park. It was the end of a warm summer’s day, as I recall, and office workers were spilling outside out onto the pavements outside crowded pubs. We walked past them eyes, downcast, past pubs, over zebras, along busy roads, a long slow column of folk. The contrast between the loudness of the drinkers and the soberness of the walkers gave the impression of a criticism that was surely not intended by Hanh.
But Ms. Khan’s experience right at the site changed her mind. Like so many things in life, subtle elements of context and setting make all the difference. And for her, this faux-spontaneous event had the “lived experience” of a public meditation technique and event that made the experience vivid, honest, and sincere.
cross the square, from all sides, apparently uninvolved idlers strode forward purposefully to the designated area between the two large fountains. It was like Superman suddenly emerging from unobtrusive Clark Kent – or rather, around a hundred or so Supermen.It was simple to be impelled along on that sudden wave and to just sit down among the throng. And a deep silence immediately arose. I was astonished. There was a sense of naturalness and openness. The steady sound of the water in the two fountains, the grumble of traffic masked behind them, and a light hither and thither breeze. It felt not so much a comment on mad commercial London but more a coexistence with it – unifying in its effect rather than polarising.
After 20 minutes, the low growl of chanting “Om” began and it rolled back and forth in waves, rising and falling until 7pm struck. And then it was all over. Standing up, the world felt different. I would have liked to have made eye contact with someone, or even hugged someone. But being British, I reverted to the conventions of public space. I picked up my things and left to catch my bus.
I don’t know if the exercise showed anybody anything or made any point at all.
But I do know that for me it was a half an hour of purest sanity.
read the wonderful original article here
That is a good definition of meditation when it goes well, isn’t it? A period of purest sanity. Well said Ms. Khan… well said.
What is your opinion of these flashmobs and the public meditation techniques that they perform? Have you ever participated in a public display like that? Your opinion is valued, so please share your thoughts in the comment area below.