In January of this year I started a meditation group at my workplace. (If you are curious about it, see the January 12, 2010 post.) Over the past eleven months the group has grown from 14 individuals to over 500 people, and from weekly meditation sessions at one location to two locations (with more locations expressing interest). I continue to be amazed at various people’s desire to try meditation.
A few weeks ago I was asked to facilitate two different meditation sessions for two different work groups. Last week, I facilitated one of those sessions (for around 70 people); today, I facilitated the other (for around 140 people).
Today’s session was particularly noteworthy, for a few different reasons. The people in today’s audience were all from the Construction area of my company; so about 90% of the participants were male, middle-aged (40-60 years old), Caucasian, and Midwestern. [Now, I am making some big generalizations here, but for the sake brevity, please allow me a bit of latitude and go with it.] Imagine an average construction-industry kind of guy (a “guy’s guy” – steak and beer, football and hunting, etc. etc.); and then multiply that by 140; and then put them all in a hotel convention room; and then put a podium with a microphone at the front of the room; and then stick me behind the podium/microphone; and there you go. That was today’s experience.
I don’t usually get too terribly nervous speaking in front of large groups of people (it was a large part of my job for a significant period of time), but I confess that I was a little apprehensive about today’s session. Given the audience and the topic, I just didn’t know how it would all go. So I got up front, put on a smile, drew a deep breath – and jumped right in. Here we go.
No, not everyone was terribly excited about the topic (or the experience). Yes, some people (many people) looked kind of uneasy. I imagine some people were muttering things under their breath to their neighbor. But I also suspect those folks were in the minority. For the most part, the individuals in the room tried to suspend judgment, and tried to give the experience a fair shake, an honest attempt.
And it was beautiful. Truly. As I stood before 140 men, seated silently, their eyes closed, their bodies still, I felt a deep sense of calm pervade the room. I felt a palpable sense of earnestness amid the crowd. And I felt skepticism yield to surprise – I felt minds, and hearts, begin to shift.
It’s difficult to articulate (as is the case with so much about meditation); but it was amazing to witness, and truly beautiful to experience.
I’m very grateful I was able to receive this gift of peace, awareness, and presence. Amazing.