Flash mob meditates for brighter future

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Ryan Beverly, Lilyana Heimberg and their dog Harley take part in the Med Mob, a meditation flashmob, outside the Long Center Wednesday evening. The Med Mob group got together to meditate at sunset to celebrate the International Day of Peace.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

Although many mobs are affiliated with loud noise and violence, a different kind of mob took over the north side of the Long Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday night.

Approximately 150 people gathered to participate in a meditation event held by the group MedMob in conjunction with International Day of Peace.

The participants silently meditated for one hour and then did a sound bath afterwards. The sound bath is an 11-minute interval in which the members chant one word together — with “om” being the most common — as a way to supplement their meditation.

“We spend most of our time hearing bad stories, and it’s nice to spend time with people who haven’t lost hope on a brighter future [and are willing] to stand up peacefully and make a difference in the local and global community,” said Austin resident and participant Elspeth Allcott. “It’s a living affirmation of hope.”

The roots of MedMob began Jan. 28, when 10 members of the yoga community in Austin decided to utilize the sound resonation at the state capitol in order to create a powerful meditation experience. As word spread, the event grew, and 250 Austinites as well as people from seven other cities chose to participate in the February meditation mob events. Over time, approximately 150 cities around the world joined the movement, and group organizers said the number is increasing every month.

“MedMob is an invitation to people of all backgrounds to collectively meditate and pray,” said MedMob co-founder Joshua Adair. “I believe that meditation is natural for humans, and it has been lost to suburbanization.”

MedMob’s current goal is to spread to other countries and host meditation mobs in other languages. MedMob’s Italian operations went from 10 cities to 48 in two weeks, and coordinators are making contacts for meditation mob events in South America and Russia.

“I’m so humbled by how far this has gone,” said UT alumnus Joshua Whisenhunt, MedMob core member.

MedMob aims to have meditation mobs in conspicuous places in order to get people accustomed to the idea of meditation.

“MedMob won’t need to exist in four or five years because through MedMob now, we will already have a world where it is natural for people on streets, parks, grocery stores, et cetera, to sit down and meditate,” said Patrick Kromsli, MedMob co-creator.

MedMob has already begun to have effects on its participants.

“It’s brought me out of myself,” participant Cara Hopkins said. “Even if you don’t talk to anyone here, it’s nice to just to come and sit and know that everyone is meditating.”

Though there is not an official MedMob student organization through the University, MedMob has held meditation mobs on campus. The previous one occurred on the first day of school and included approximately 70 people.

“Students on campus are often disconnected,” said MedMob organizer Jessi Swann, a human development senior. “Medmob has three goals on campus-- instill campus unity, inspire future leaders and uplift students. We want to be the model for college campuses around the world.”

The next MedMob event at UT is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28 on the East Mall.