Over the last few years, monastics and Wake Up friends have organised meditation flashmobs all over the world. Some of the cities include Tijuana (a dance flashmob!), Montevideo, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
Several of our lay friends have asked what it takes to organise a meditation flashmob. Here are some steps 🙂 :
WHAT’S THE INTENTION? To raise awareness of meditation and send a message that peace and stillness is possible in the busyness of our lives.
- Decide on a location:
Since the idea is to spread the awareness of meditation, you usually want to decide on a location that is public and heavily trafficked. Here are some examples of group locations: a public square, inside or outside a public building like a mall (or legislature building), a park next to a busy intersection, etc.
For a meditation flashmob, you’ll also have to find an area where people can sit, be comfortable, be seen and “exposed”, but it should not be a hazard to foot traffic. Consider the surface you’re sitting on. For example, if it’s concrete, bring a jacket to sit on, a sheet, or sit on your shoes. Also consider how much exposure to the elements you’ll have. For example, if there is no shade, bring sunscreen and a hat. If there may be chance of rain and you’re sitting outside with no cover, bring rain gear or perhaps you might also consider cancelling the event.
- Decide on a date and time:
Choose a day and time when the area is heavily trafficked. Depending on the setting, it may be on the weekend in the mornings, on a weekday in the evenings, or around the lunch hour. Do some research on that area before officially deciding on a time and place. Do research to see if there may be conflicting events happening at that location the same day of your event.
- Tell people about it:
This can be as simple as telling a small group of friends or your Sangha. Or this can be as extensive as promoting it all over different communication channels and collaborating with different organizations.
- Do it.
Simple enough huh? 🙂
The above is the bare bone minimum of what you can do for a meditation flashmob. For your first time, keep it as simple and minimal as possible, so that organizing the event is fun, cool, and creative.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
Here are some other things you can consider for a meditation flashmob event. They are not at all required for a successful flashmob, but they can add another flavor to the event.
Have a Clear Beginning and a Clear End
In order to create a sacred space for meditation, it is nice and reassuring for everyone when there is a clear beginning and a clear ending to the meditation. Usually, an invitation of a bell, song, or sound bath can be these markers. These markers are also nice because it does not involve dialog, which can take away from the impact of a silent meditation.
Get Proper Permits and Permission
This is something very important that people often overlook or disregard. In some locations, people can receive a citation or fine if they do not have proper permits for a large event in a public area. If this might be a big event (hundreds of people), look up your city code to see what kind of permits you may need from the city AND also get the permission you may need from that specific venue. If you anticipate that it’ll be a small event (less than 50 people), then depending on the size of the space, you might not need to seek a permit because the size of your group won’t impair the traffic of the venue.
We highly encourage you to be organized and prepared by learning what the city regulations are, and take the steps necessary to legally protect yourself and other participants. During the event, be sure to have a point person to talk to authorities in case they raise questions.
Have a Poster/Banner/Handouts During the Event
Onlookers will be very curious about who you are and what you are doing. If you prefer for the group to remain anonymous during the event, you can disregard this point. But if you’d like to offer people meditation resources, share your group, or share a specific message, you should bring handouts to the event. You can either place these handouts around the edge of your group for onlookers to pick up; you can also have volunteers who agree to not meditate, stand and hand out flyers and talk to curious onlookers who have questions. A banner with a message or your organization’s name is quite nice for a photo opportunity, especially for folks who couldn’t attend the meditation flashmob because they can share these photos on social media and still feel like they were part of something meaningful.
Have Pre or Post-Events to Build a Community
A pre-event example could be a walking meditation along a busy street that leads up to the meditation flashmob site or yoga in the park. A post-event example could be a picnic lunch or music afterwards.
Sometimes, meditation flashmobs don’t have to be planned at all. Our tour group of nine Wake Up friends in Tijuana was doing some site-seeing. One person was a little tired, so while we stopped to chat about something, he sat down on some steps in the entryway of a mall to practice some sitting meditation. The rest of our group spontaneously joined him for an impromptu meditation flashmob. One of us happened to have a bell, so he invited it to begin and end a 10-minute sit.