Meditators sit in Portland, Oregon's Pioneer Square during the 2nd annual Portland City Sit. Maitripa College, the Shambhala Meditation Center of Portland, and the Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple affiliate of the Zen Community of Oregon sponsored the event.
At 11:30am last Friday, September 30, those walking through Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Courthouse Square were met with an unusual sight: meditators sitting silently on cushions in the middle of the brick-covered square, their faces peaceful as cars, busses, and pedestrians whizzed by in a blur of downtown energy.
The meditators came from various Buddhist backgrounds but the event invited anyone to pick a cushion, take a seat, and try out meditation for themselves. Some visitors to the square walking through on their way to shopping or work jumped on in for a try. Others sought out basic instruction, offered at the event, before experiencing their first taste of meditation. Many more simply observed, sitting on the steps of the square to witness what was happening while they ate lunch or quietly chatted about what they were seeing.
First held in 2010, the now annual "Portland City Sit" was sponsored and organized this year by three Buddhist organizations in Portland: Maitripa College, the Shambhala Meditation Center of Portland, and Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple (part of Zen Community of Oregon). The event also serves as an opportunity for Buddhist, secular, and other religious organizations to work together in a shared mission to raise awareness about the benefits of meditation, a practice which spans centuries, occurs in all of the major religious traditions, and is increasingly recognized by modern science as beneficial for the body and mind.
The free event ran from 11:30am-6:00pm with meditators spanning the day. Meditation instruction was available in both English and Spanish. Estimates are that more than a thousand Portland residents and visitors were exposed to the event through participation, watching, or simply passing by to catch a glimpse of an urban meditation revolution in action.
For more information on the Portland City Sit, contact: [email protected].
Contributor: Sara Winkelman.
Photo: Marc Sakamoto.