Saturday, October 8
After leading a noon Meditation Flash Mob at “Liberty Plaza,” the center of Occupy Wall Street, a group ranging from 22 to 27 people skipped a giant Washington Square Park rally to come together in a quiet, grassy spot in Battery Park to continue developing a committee committed to maintaining “conscious”, “sacred” energy within Occupy Wall Street.
The meeting was led by Meditation Teacher/Community Organizer Anthony Whitehurst, who received a text message informing him that the meeting needed facilitation a few days earlier. The committee stands, and sits, in solidarity with the movement’s aim to improve conditions for the 99%. However, they aim to do so not by combating and vilifying the 1%, but by working with them. As it gelled, the group is debated between names like “Sacred Spaces Working group,” and “Occupy Within,” ultimately settling with “Consciousness Committee.” They have chosen as their tagline “uniting the 100%.” In the tradition of spiritual activists such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. they hold a space that asserts that if protesters meet anger and violence with more of the same, they are merely contributing to the problem instead of finding a solution for it.
The committee has its roots in the New York City MedMob. MedMobs are meditation flash mobs springing up around the world, where people gather in a public space announced on Facebook for 50 minutes of silent meditation, followed by a 10 minute “sound bath.” The New York City group, which includes several people also connected to a Brooklyn wellness center, began sitting at Wall Street before the Occupation began.
As the occupation has grown, so have their meditations, which now regularly take place every Wednesday and Saturday. They have also broadened their focus beyond meditation. As the group develops a title and mission, they are formalizing roles that they have already started to play informally: scheduling more meditations, maintaining an altar, working with guest spiritual teachers, coordinating healings, gathering resources and connecting to activists around the world interest in infusing spirituality with social action.
The Occupy Wall Street website says:
“The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants”.
By aiming to unite the 100%, the Consciousness Committee challenges the us vs. them attitude implied by 99% vs. 1%. What would it practically take to unite people from all classes, ages and backgrounds? Can the Consciousness Committee provide an on-the-ground connection for spiritual teachers and communities who wish to work towards non-violence and unity? While the movement proclaims to encourage non-violence, is there inherent violence in the term “occupy,” given the present situation and history of military occupations around the world? What are the effects of us vs. them language, revolutionary ideology and the term “occupy”?