Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meditation is a waste of good shopping time - Occupy your Mind

*Note: This post was written largely on November 27, 2011, but for legal reasons, was not posted until now. It took until March 2012 for the case to be heard in front of a judge, as I would not accept a plea bargain for crimes I did not commit. A jury of my peers found me NOT GUILTY, so now I'm free to talk about it... Enjoy. (Next I have to write another post about lessons learned from the case. Stay tuned.)

“Meditator arrested for ‘disturbing the frenzy’ at the mall on Black Friday.”
The pictures and comments had already started circulating through social networks before I was even released from the 7 foot cubed holding cell at North Attleboro PD. In that cell, I had 7 hours to myself to reflect on the significance of the action I had just participated in, and how that significance was highlighted by the very fact that I now sat in a locked cube for doing it.

It was the day commonly referred to as “Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving (or as it's known by others: "Buy Nothing Day," the day after “National Day of Mourning”)

It was on this ritualized shopping holiday that a small group of people, including myself, decided that rather than shop, we would hold a group meditation in a small circle in the center of the local shopping mall. The idea was to connect and bring calm to the storm, to make a simple statement:

Mindfulness is a legitimate threat to an economy that relies on mindless consumerism and on our disconnection from the Community of Life.

Behind the central staircase of the Emerald Square Mall, we took our place between “lanes” on the consumer footway, open to the two levels above. In a circle, we sat in silence and without interruption for several minutes. We drew the attention of only a few of our fellow humans, temporarily distracted from their obligatory role as consumers (a necessary condition, it turns out, for entering this privatized zone). We eventually entered a deep round of “Om's” (wonderful acoustics in the mall, by the way). After 30 minutes of what ended up being a very deep meditation experience, we arose with little distraction from the radio-wielding men in white. We circled hands for another round of "Oms" and finally, a quick mic check to close:

Meditation is a waste of good shopping time.
Conscious people make poor consumers.
Stay separate. Stay Scared. Keep shopping.

We broke circle and made our separate ways toward the third floor parking garage. Unfortunately, I was met by two men in police uniforms at the base of the escalator. After trying to explain my need to get to the third floor, to my car, they instead offered to escort me out of the first floor exit and into a police car. It's difficult to decline that offer when you're in handcuffs.

The charges included: disorderly conduct, trespassing, resisting arrest (of course), and perhaps most ironically, “disturbing the peace.”

(Oddly enough, the radio inside the car was playing popstep at a subdued volume.)

For those wondering “How does this connect to the Occupy Movement?” (the action, not the music);

When I ponder the question, I realize that it will take me quite a while to explain how many ways meditation and mindfulness relate to the root causes and root solutions of the Occupy Movement (remember: everything is connected). So, I will start with the one that is most apparent and significant to me: Mindfulness is a legitimate threat to an economy that relies on mindless consumerism and on our disconnection from the Community of Life.

I’ve decided that I’m going to break this post into several installments, this being the first. Future posts (and perhaps guest posts?) may examine at greater length how this action and use of meditation relates to such topics as: the role of predatory capitalism in the privatization of public spaces, the loss of free speech areas, cultural homogenization, systematic violence, marketing, public relations, brainwashing, food justice, animal rights, deep ecology, colonization, decolonization, and so on…. (We can see where it goes.) This format will allow for some extended exchange and discourse through the wonders of social media, so please comment and share your own thoughts, reflections or objections on my original post at

What does mindfulness have to do with the economy?
“Consume, consume, consume until we have no planet left to consume. What you need to do is buy things that you don’t need, that’s the best way to support the economy…. Meditation is a waste of good shopping time. Miserable people shop more, so please stay miserable for as long as you can.” -The Love Police

"Until we have no planet left to consume..."

The dominant world economy today relies upon constant growth and expansion. "It's a system in crisis," as Annie Leonard explains it so succinctly in the first installment of the “Story of Stuff” animated film series. “It’s a linear system and we live on a finite planet, and you can not run a linear system on a finite planet, indefinitely.”

Humans evolved on this planet, but somewhere along the way lost connection with the rest of the Community of Life on this planet. Fear-based marketing and programming campaigns carried out by ever-increasingly invasive corporate entities have fed upon, and reinforced, this cosmic divide. It’s this disconnection which has allowed us to create a mindless economy with which, as Leonard puts it, “we’re trashing the planet, we’re trashing each other, and we’re not even having fun.”

Through mindful practice, one is able to regain some perspective on the interconnection of all things and interdependence of all Life. If people are able to rediscover and maintain this connection, we will not be able to perpetuate or recreate a system that relies upon isolation, destruction and disconnection. Together, we have the creativity and compassion to co-create a mindful economy that works for everyone, including the Earth. That is why it felt appropriate and meaningful to make this type of direct action at the shopping mall on this ritualistically mindless holiday.

"What is an economy, anyways?"

To take a step back, let’s look quickly at what an economy is supposed to do. One definition, provided by the makers of the film Zeitgeist Moving Forward, is:

Economy: efficiently and conservatively orient the materials for production and the distribution of life supporting goods.

You don’t have to be an economist to realize that what we have is hardly efficient or conservative, or even approximating its purpose. Instead, what we have is a system of wealth extraction that converts the natural beauty of the planet into imaginary wealth and power for a minority of members in the community of Life.

"The Economy is a Reflection of the Connections Between Us"
(From a great little flier that I picked up at the Occupy Boston Summit)
“Yes, the 1% got us out into the streets but let’s name the true culprit: the rampant egotism in human nature. Acknowledging this problem will be the first step toward controlling it. Redistribution of wealth without a moral awakening of the entire world will yield no positive results. In fact, the bitter experiences of the communist revolutions in the previous century are warning enough that this is not the way to go. Instead, the means toward stability and prosperity in our future is the human connection and a unified, heartfelt effort toward a common goal… Every desire, act and thought that is dedicated towards the all-encompassing system of humanity will bring balance, peace, and prosperity to one and all. “ - #AsOne

Through meditation, prayer, and other practices or experiences, as we remember our connections to other living things, we remember our universal love for all living things. All cliché’s aside, universal love and compassion has the power to change everything. We have the ability to make these realizations as individuals, and also as a society.

"Love is the felt experience of connection to another being. An economist says 'more for you is less for me.' But the lover knows that more for you is more for me too. If you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody, 99% and 1%." ~ Charles Eisenstein

Update: Check out the short film that was released March 1, "Sacred Economics," (and the book by the same name, by Charles Eisenstein.) This guy is really onto something.

I've come to realize that full appreciation of the connection between meditation and the economy requires the recognition that we are in the midst of a global transformation of consciousness (what some may call “The Great Turning”). In my belief, as well as that of others, the Occupy Movement is a manifestation of, and a vehicle for, this transformation.


Meditation is a time-tested and demonstrated tool for personal, and by extension, societal transformation (see the DC Crime Study). The act itself is a statement of noncompliance with the cultural programming designed to keep us consuming and complying blindly, in isolation and at a huge cost to all Life on this planet. As a movement, and as human beings, we must transform our consciousness and remember our interdependence.

Various forms of meditation provide many paths to doing just that.

Take a few minutes out from your hectic schedule
to acknowledge your connection to Mother Earth
and to all of your relations.



Then let’s have ourselves a Revolution (of Love.)

[Please feel free to leave comments/feedback/etc, as this should be a discussion, a process. I’m just connecting some dots here, and would appreciate your help on part 2!]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Occupy the Media

Here are just a few of my favorite recent videos related to the Occupy Movement.

John Ford - Occupy Boston Librarian (Kinetic Typography)

"We stopped into Occupy Boston filming for the documentary "Bailout: The Dukes of Moral Hazard" to talk with John Ford, the local librarian, about the Occupy Wallstreet Movement. Here's a short clip of what he had to say about the movement."

John Ford: Occupy Boston Librarian from Endless Eye on Vimeo.

Colbert Super PAC - Occupy Wall Street Co-Optportunity

If Dick Armey's FreedomWorks can co-opt the Tea Party, then the Colbert Super PAC can co-opt Occupy Wall Street.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - Occupy Wall Street Co-Optportunity
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Colbert Super PAC - Stephen Colbert Occupies Occupy Wall Street

Hilarius and such a great look into the OWS movement. And I love Ketchup!
Stephen heads to Wall Street to gain the trust of Occupy Wall Street protesters and take over the movement. (07:20)
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - Stephen Colbert Occupies Occupy Wall Street Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Stephen presents the dramatic conclusion of his Occupy Wall Street co-occupation.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - Stephen Colbert Occupies Occupy Wall Street Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Josh Kahn Russell mic check at OWS 11/6: Tar Sands Action

An animated Joshua Kahn Russell spoke about the plan to encircle the White House on Sunday, Nov. 6 to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Here's Russell's speech at OWS:

Tim DeChristopher Letter read at Occupy Wall St. 11/5: Tar Sands Action

Incarcerated climate activist Tim DeChristopher made a written appearance at Climate Action day at #OWS. DeChristopher encourages occupiers to protest the proposed tar sands pipeline in DC on November 6th. You can read his entire letter here -

Occupy Boston - The Beauty of Unity - 10.15.11

"Trying to capture the beauty of unity. There are too many police brutality videos out there that defeats the purpose of this movement. This is how I see the revolution. "
[music: The Album Leaf]