by Ethan Nichtern

This Friday 7pm, Until Saturday 7pm, The Interdependence Project is putting on what promises to be a very cool event. We are meditating, as a group, for 24 hours straight, in the storefront windows of this place, ABC Carpet & Home. ABC is an environmentally minded retailer with a great mission, located on Broadway and 18th street in NYC, and they have been generous enough to provide the space for us to make a very public display of mindfulness practice. A few of us, including myself, are meditating for all 24 hours.

Over the past month, I have been getting a lot of funny questions about why we are doing this. So I thought I’d use this post to answer the top five frequently asked questions.

Ethan Nichtern’s Top Five FAQ’s about the 24 Hour Meditation Marathon

1. Why are you doing this?

This event is a fundraiser, and also it’s an awareness-raiser.

As a fundraiser, sitters are asking friends to sponsor them in this meditation marathon. Money goes to the IDP – specifically to getting ourselves a new center for our awesome community, as well as to develop our Integral Activism initiatives and other worthy projects. You can sponsor me here (please? It’s a deductible donation to the full extent of the law).

As an awareness-raiser, we feel it’s really important to demonstrate that meditation is something that very regular and normal people do. It is not something that you have to be some kind of mystic to be able to practice. A lot of people just like you do it, and it helps them a lot in life. And – as far as the mission of IDP and ABC both go – if you start to become more mindful, you can also help out a lot, especially with issues of environmental activism, sustainability, and responsible consumption.

2. What are you, David Blaine or something?

No, no I’m not. This is not magic. Unless you think ordinary experience is magical. Which, I really do. We will take short period breaks for walking meditation, tea, water, and to use the bathroom. No diapers for us (I have heard this joke literally 25 times in the past month). Don’t worry, it’ll still be plenty hardcore.

3. Are You Nervous or Scared?

  The only reasons I can think of that I would be nervous is that A) I might fall asleep or get too physically sore to finish or B) Passersby might make faces or laugh at me.

Anybody who has done a meditation retreat knows that falling asleep is no big deal (happens to the best of them), and physical discomfort is always something to reckon with. So, nothing I haven’t faced before. And as for people laughing at me: getting laughed at is nothing new. I went to high school, you know. I looked 12 when I was 15. Getting laughed at would bring back fond memories.

4.  What Style of Meditation Will You Be Doing?

I’m going to see how it goes, but I will definitely do some basic mindfulness meditation (shamatha), gathering and settling the mind to the breath and sense perceptions. I will also practice lovingkindness (metta or maitri meditation), and toward the end I will (hopefully) do a really energizing tantric visualization practice from the Shambhala tradition (the Buddhist community I belong to) in which you try to tune into the compassionate energy of the world, and radiate that to others around you (hokey, yes, but it does wonders for your attitude).

5. Can I Meditate, Too?

Throughout the day on Saturday (at 12noon, 2, 4, and 5:30pm) there will be free open meditation classes at ABC Carpet & Home with great IDP teachers and mentors Roshi O’Hara, Dr. Miles Neale, and Robert Chender. Come on by! 

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