Have you ever been told to be quiet in a museum? Now you really can be quiet—meditatively quiet, that is.
UCLA’s cutting-edge Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is starting a meditation revolution. Every Thursday at 12:30 they host a free, guided, half hour meditation session open to the general public. I, and others from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, lead the meditation.
That first Thursday in January, I expected few people to show up— maybe ten, if we were lucky. But as I stood at the door of the Hammer’s bright pink auditorium, crowds began to trickle and then pour in—people in business suits, in more artsy clothes, young, old, of all backgrounds and races. They just kept coming. “Where are they coming from?” I whispered to the museum coordinator.
87 people attended that first day. I guided them through a basic breathing meditation They sat in silence, practiced mindfulness for a half hour, and then, I assume, they went back to their nearby jobs and lives. It had to be a fluke, I thought.
Well, since then we’ve hosted between 60 and 80 participants. Even on a rainy day, we had over 30, which is a huge feat in Los Angeles.
As I sit at the foot of the stage, offering simple instructions on how to mindfully breathe each week, I am continually inspired. How amazing to be deep in silence with so many others. I’m grateful I can offer a few words, but truthfully, it’s the community that speaks louder than anything.
We’re all rushed, overwhelmed, over media-tized. We are buried in work responsibilities, family duties, and more. When do we get to stop for a moment? When do we come together in large groups, secularly, to go inside ourselves, relax, and find a moment’s peace? It’s pretty rare. Our culture so desperately needs down time, and come to think of it, what better place to do it than in a museum? I mean, how many times have I been told to be quiet in a museum?
The Hammer is starting a meditation revolution. What if many of our public spaces could offer respite: sites of peace, reflection, and contemplation for our exhausted bodies minds? Perhaps the Hammer is just the beginning… But do you know of any other organizations who are helping to create a momentum in the Meditation Revolution? Leave a comment so that we’ll all have the benefits of your experience.
Loi Laing says
It's not an organization, but Newark's airport is a public space that provides an onsite meditation room. I think that's pretty neat!
Ray Watkins says
Aw right! I wanna send that gal some flowers!
Terrence Stansbury says
Weekly sitting in a Dallas museum:
I'm in the chicago burbs and searching desperately for something like this. Nearest thing I've found is oak park zen center, but I'm not sure i'm looking for something so explicitly religiously affiliated and with all the severe master-student baggage. I think I need to get back onto the left coast.