Maitripa College, organizer of the event, enlisted a variety of meditation instructors and encouraged participating groups to hand out information about their centers and practices.
Portlanders on their way to work came across an unusual sight on a recent Friday in June – a small sea of people meditating silently in the middle of a busy downtown square as busses and commuters whizzed by. This was the experiment of the First Annual Portland City Sit.
From 9am to 5pm on June 25th in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, people were invited simply to experience meditation. The busy location, deemed Portland’s “living room” by locals, was a visible outdoor space to draw attention to the event and to entice people to try out meditation and learn about its benefits.
Organized and sponsored by Portland’s Maitripa College, the event drew additional participation from more than twenty groups across the region who wanted to support the mission of the event: raising awareness on the benefits of meditation. These groups ranged from Buddhist organizations of various lineages to an Episcopal church and a chiropractic clinic. The ecumenical message of shared commitment to meditation across religious traditions and secular interests was celebrated and the event organizers hope to engage an even greater diversity of religious and secular groups next year.
An ecumenical event, the Portland City Sit attracted meditators from various faiths and traditions, plus secular disciplines.
In Buddhism alone, there are hundreds of different styles of meditation, from those focusing on abiding with concentrated focus on an object, image, or thought, to analytical styles which explore a philosophical idea such as the nature of the mind, to elaborate visualizations, chanting, and many other forms. Doctors now routinely prescribe meditation, a practical and effective tool which has been utilized around the world for thousands of years to calm the mind, heal the body, investigate the nature of reality, and create virtuous states of mind such as compassion, loving-kindness, patience, and more.
Event organizer Maitripa College is the Northwest's first Buddhist College and one of only a few in the western world. Since opening its doors in 2006, its unique model of integrating scholarship with meditation and service has become a standard for transformative education. Maitripa offers basic meditation instruction through the summer from 10:00am-10:30am and hosts an Open House on the First Thursday of each month from 6:30-9:00pm.
The following organizations participated in the 2010 Portland City Sit: Asula Chiropractic & Wellness Center, Buddhist Peace Fellowship~Portland Chapter, Dance Mandal, Dharma Ocean (Portland Chapter), Episcopal Peace Fellowship (Vancouver, WA ), Great Vow Zen Monastery, Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple (ZCO), Hui Lin Temple, Kagyu Changchub Chuling, Maitripa College, Northwest Dharma Association, Portland Dzogchen Community, Portland Friends of the Dhamma, Portland Insight Meditation Center, Samden Ling Center, Shambhala Meditation Center of Portland, Tergar Meditation Group of Portland, Tipitaka Study Group, 12-Step Buddhist Sangha, Vancouver Nichiren Sangha, Zen Center of Portland.
For more information about Maitripa College, please visit: www.maitripa.org.
Contributor: Sara Blumenthal.
Photos: Marc Sakamoto.