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If you can meditate in NYC, you can meditate anywhere.
March 31, 2010 4:46 PM   Subscribe

How to Meditate in the NYC Subway System: The Interdependence Project brings a combination of "meditation, performance art, and activism" to the tunnel between Times Square/42nd Street and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Last year's Sit Down, Rise Up event involved a 24 hour meditation marathon in display windows at 19th and Broadway. (via The Worst Horse)
posted by desjardins (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't approve. This has uncomfortable self-congratulatory overtones.
posted by phrontist at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2010


And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

-Matthew 6:5
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:03 PM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


You cannot meditate on the NYC subway system...

YOU CANNOT MEDITATE ON THE NYC SUBWAY SYSTEM!

/Jim Morrison
posted by Splunge at 5:12 PM on March 31, 2010


I know it's wrong, and I'd never do it, but I have the impulse to give a subway meditator a walk-by slushy.
posted by found missing at 5:14 PM on March 31, 2010


Observing the meditator in the subway, I note the arising of annoyance.

I note the abiding of annoyance.

I note the continued abiding of annoyance.

Still abiding.

Ah, shit.

* pours a glass of Sagrantino *
posted by everichon at 5:19 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


How to Disrupt the Flow of Foot Traffic in the NYC Subway System
posted by gurple at 5:24 PM on March 31, 2010


I agree entirely with phrontist.
posted by twsf at 5:27 PM on March 31, 2010


"Each month a group of meditators will meet at different locations in Manhattan to connect our awareness to issues within our community in a new form of civic engagement we've dubbed "InterActs". By injecting spaciousness and contemplation into the context of busy public spaces, we aim to encourage pause and consideration of our surroundings, igniting conversation and creative prosperity among both participants and witnesses."

Huh. I wonder if it wound up that way. I feel like I get what they're after and I don't really see this as an effective way to get at that. I mean it's possible that the meta-message is some sort of "hey you SHOULD slow down" and therefore it's okay to basically monopolize public spaces mysteriously relying on other people's good graces to protect you from getting trod upon. And yet, to me there's something very anti-public about meditation and mindfulness as a practice and that sitting in someone's way is the very opposite of mindfulness and if you enter this sort of situation wilfully, you are actually increasing suffering in the world, not lessening it.

Put another way, I'm interested in how these people were expecting this to go versus what actually happened. Is it appropriate to think of doing meditation as 'reaching an audience"?
posted by jessamyn at 5:43 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


ColdChef, take note: the linked video above is TERRIBLE subway etiquette.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:44 PM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


As someone who has taken that particular route to and from work on a regular basis all I can say is...

Tell your story walking.

That tunnel is a major connection between two very crowded subway lines. During rush hour people are hurrying to make connections to get to their jobs on time. These days, with the fiasco that is the finances of the NYC subway system, trains are being cut. Connections are harder to make. There is already too much tension in the ridership of the system.

One day someone is going to get really pissed off.

Recently this happened.

I'm just thinking that the subway may not be the place to raise people's awareness right now.
posted by Splunge at 5:59 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's like Improv Everywhere without a punch line.

After watching the first video I'm surprised I didn't read about 12 hippies being trampled to death somewhere between Times Square and Port Authority.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:00 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


This means as a method of spreading awareness is about as effective as PETA's method of spreading theirs. Your success rate isn't going to be helped by annoying or pissing people off. And seriously, GET THE FUCK OUTTA THE WAY.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:51 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


stay the fuck out of my way in that tunnel. the strollers and wide groups of slow people are annoying enough.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:30 PM on March 31, 2010


I hope I'm wrong, but the spokeman in that video strikes me as one of those people who seems really nice, but turns out to be kind of a self-absorbed jerk.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:47 PM on March 31, 2010


This does seem fantastically ill-conceived and counterproductive. I'm all for meditation, but for real, if I run into anyone sitting down in a crowded subway station, they'll probably have increased awareness of the contents of my gym bag accidentally-on-purpose smacking into their head.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:48 PM on March 31, 2010


I see this as a form of evangelism, and in my opinion that's antithetical to Buddhism. You're supposed to find your own way, and some people believe that your karma from past lives either brings you to the teachings or it doesn't, so evangelism just doesn't make sense.

Plus I can imagine the subway thing is just fucking annoying.

That said, I think the 24 hour meditation thing is cool as a form of performance art, as long as it's not meant to be a recruitment tool.
posted by desjardins at 8:01 PM on March 31, 2010


I meditate on the New York subway all the time. You wouldn't know it though because I'm just another dude sitting on the train with his eyes closed. I love doing it, and the whoosh and clank of the train is equally distracting and conducive to the practice -- but it's not part of a project, and it's certainly not meant to draw attention to anything.
posted by muckster at 8:05 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"OMMMMM"
"Excuse Me."
"OMMMMM"
"Sorry buddy, I just...."
"OMMMMM"
"I just gotta..."
"OMMMMM"
"Yo, can you believe dis shit?"
"OMMMMM"
"HEY ASSHOLE. MOVE OUTTA DA FUCKIN' WAY. I GOTTA GET TA WORK HERE!"

Yeah, that'll go well.
posted by zarq at 8:14 PM on March 31, 2010


I meditate on the New York subway all the time. You wouldn't know it though because I'm just another dude sitting on the train with his eyes closed. I love doing it, and the whoosh and clank of the train is equally distracting and conducive to the practice -- but it's not part of a project, and it's certainly not meant to draw attention to anything.

All joking aside... I do this too. There's a nice rhythm and movement to the LIRR and subway that makes for a nice meditation environment.

On the other hand, the project in this FPP seems rather self-promoting and ego-centric.
posted by zarq at 8:17 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good for them! They've invented a much more passive aggressive alternative to passing out pamphlets.

Seriously though, there are very good reasons to doubt that meditation is going to change society for the better. Japanese Zen was complicit in some serious Holocaust-level atrocities in WW2, and the feudal history of Tibet isn't so pretty either. And I say that as an owner of 30 books on Buddhism and who practiced vipassana for 2 years.
posted by AlsoMike at 9:12 PM on March 31, 2010


I thought it said "medicate in the NYC subway system" referring to marijuana. But that would kinda be like teaching someone to pee on the subway...everyone already knows how, and daily riders have done it at some point in their lives.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:57 PM on March 31, 2010


Just bring along one of those little bottles of hand sanitizer, and as you walk down the tunnel squirt a little dollop onto the top of each one's head...
posted by Evilspork at 12:40 AM on April 1, 2010


I've never understood why a philosophy devoted to the extinction of the ego should have such a draw for pompous narcissists determined to make a public spectacle of their own spiritual perfection.

Not a slur on most American Buddhists, just self-satisfied pricks like these.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2010


I've never understood why a philosophy devoted to the extinction of the ego should have such a draw for pompous narcissists

I also think about this. I have two general thoughts.

1. There are a ton of Buddhists who just STFU and do their thing, the ones you hear about are the pompous narcissists. Since there's a culture of everyone being able to do Buddhism their own way, you don't hear other Buddhists telling those Buddhists that they're wrong. There's no firm unyielding hierarchy really of people who have established "thou shalt" sort of things.

2. I think people who have this sot of personality [see also: angry Buddhists] are drawn towards the idea of quieting their inner pompous/angry person and think this may be the path there.
posted by jessamyn at 11:42 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yet another secret subway meditator.
Meditating should not be mixed with evangelism.
(I absolutely do not know what's best for anyone but myself.)
posted by Erroneous at 7:43 AM on April 2, 2010


(I absolutely do not know what's best for anyone but myself.)

Hey, at least you're a step ahead of me.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:37 AM on April 2, 2010


An update on the guy that killed the people in the subway. They caught him. And the NY Daily news loves buzzwords.

Article.
posted by Splunge at 9:00 PM on April 3, 2010


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