5 real-life lessons in meditation from Occupy Wall Street

542346_self_portrait_in_orangeCONSCIOUSLY OR NOT, the Occupy movement has done something truly radical: from the beginning, they have followed the principles of meditation. All of the components of the meditative attitude are reflected in Occupy Wall Street, and they have given us five real-life lessons in how to truly live our spiritual values in the gritty, real world:

1-Right intention: The first lesson is to stand by what we value, even if it looks like our action will be too insignificant to make any difference. By staying firm while the media initially dismissed and ridiculed them, the first Occupiers gave others the courage to do the same.

2-Full attention: The meditative attitude means keeping our attention on what is, however uncomfortable that might be. The second lesson: stay focussed on what matters, even when it is the equivalent of sleeping out overnight in a cold New York plaza without any guarantees that we’ll get anything but discomfort in return.

3-Beginners mind: In a culture that values expertise and sees not having the answer as a sign of weakness, the Occupiers did what meditators do: they resisted the temptation to make demands and instead were willing to be seen not knowing.

4-Unconditional friendliness: By focusing on what joins people rather than what divides them, the Occupiers brought together a cross-section of supporters from all sides of the political and cultural spectrum. They created an atmospheres of inclusiveness and respect for those who disagree.

5-Commitment to the truth: The point of meditation is to see the truth of reality without the coloring of our ego’s biases. The Occupy movement demonstrates its commitment to the truth by being willing to stay with uncertainty for as long as it takes to reach real agreement—something that can only come when the real truth comes clear to the people involved.

The Occupy movement makes clear that cultivating a meditative attitude is a powerful and radical act, both individually and collectively. As the reports of police violence begin to come in more and more, we can only hope that the field of non-violent openness that started the movement will be able to withstand the pressure.

For a more in-depth look at how the meditative attitude is reflected in Occupy Wall Street, see my article on the Huffington Post. See also We are the 100%, an interesting take on the Occupy movement by dharma astrologer Hunter Reynolds.

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