Being Present — Meditation at Occupy Wall Street

Originally Posted on the ID Project Blog on Oct. 17th, 2011

Yesterday the Interdependence Project helped organize a mindfulness meditation at Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Downtown Manhattan.   In coorindation with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, sits were happening across the country at the same time.

meditation occupy wall street OWS #occupywallstreet #OWS meditation nyc buddhism buddhist meditation #beingpresent being present

I arrived a little before three o’clock p.m along with several friends who had just finished an intensive weekend of meditation teacher training in the East Village. Together we scouted around inside the crowded park, looking for a place to sit. Eventually we settled on “the shrine tree” — located in the northwest corner of the park . Around it’s base were statuettes of the Buddha, a Christian cross, Ganesh among other precious objects. In the center of the objects sat a framed print, an image of a symbols from twenty or so spiritual traditions creating a circle, a sign of spiritual unity. The earthy-sweet smell of incense paraded up into the leaves and out over the crowd.

Our cushions were laid out right onto the concrete. By the time we finished our first twenty minute period of “Being Present”, our group had grown to around eighty folks. I sat, watching my breath as the activity of the park became more vivid.

“Go Inside or Keep Moving!” the policemen yelled at the passersby who slowed on the sidewalk.

“Legalize Weed!” came a roar a few minutes later, as group with a drum gathered behind us.

In line with my view, a young man with rosy brown skin in a zip-up print hoodie squatted around the shrine tree, organizing the sacred objects, re-lighting the incense, watching the smoke dance with the wind.

I kept thinking about my own place in all of this. A young, well-educated white male, with a full time job, and supportive family. Why am I here in this occupation?

Then I noticed my habit of over-thinking, and let my thoughts float away and returned to the feeling of my breath.

This wasn’t about me — I came to this sit to listen, to let the energy of the occupation infuse my presence. By sitting in solidarity with the occupation, we were hoping to help to lay a foundation of mindfulness beneath a social movement with far reaching implications. The way protesters in NYC inter-act with the police has the potential to become a model for all the protests and occupations happening all over the globe, that’s Interdependence in a nutshell. The potential for things to spin out into nasty territory is already evident, as reports of violence filter back from the outgrowth in Rome.

So we sat, watching our breath, being present with the tides of change, swelling, distant still from shore.

We’re planning to host meditations daily at Zuccotti Park. If you’re interested in attending or helping to organize, please e-mail

Other organizations participating on Sunday in NYC:

Off the Mat and Into the World, Third Root Community Health Center, Go Yoga, Queer Dharma, New Dharma,

Photo Credit Theother99


About Patrick Groneman

Creativity is freedom, love is the foundation I create art, publicity materials, and collaborative workspaces that value creativity, learning, connectedness, and empowerment. Trained in teaching mindfulness and meditation, I offer one-on-one or group trainings to support creativity, relaxation, and values-based living. If you are interested in any of the above -- or in delicious meals -- please contact me! Technical skills include: Social Media Advertising & Content Dissemination, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Art Direction, Branding, Photography, E-mail Promotions, Website Development, Pinteresting, Project Management, Video Production, Video Editing & Animation, Creative Writing, Mindfulness & Meditation Instruction, Group Facilitation, Conflict Resolution, Tweeting, Songwriting, Guitar Playing and Gluten-Free Cooking.
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