events1-p24 (1)On June 8, meditation bells reverberated across the country—and, this year, across the Atlantic—heraldingTricycle’s ninth annual Change Your Mind Day (CYMD), an afternoon of free outdoor meditation instruction. This summer marked the advent of CYMD into Europe, with the inaugural event held in Dublin, Ireland. Thirty Dubliners braved the rain to attend the proceedings, which included T’ai Chi, a dharma talk, and a guided meditation. Coordinator Courtney Kirshner remarks, “It’s not every day that you get to stride down St. Stephen’s Green with a 6’1″, half-Irish, half-Native American Nichiren Shu novice Buddhist priest.”

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In New York City’s Central Park, where CYMD was first held in 1994, record numbers gathered this year, from zafu-toting practitioners to bikini-clad hipsters basking in the Buddhist rays. A Taiko drumming performance roused the crowd for a series of yoga stretches led by Cyndi Lee of Om Yoga in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. While dharma talks from a variety of traditions provided an international Buddhist perspective, Soren Gordhamer, a peace activist and meditation teacher, addressed more local concerns, speaking about the Lineage Project, a not-for-profit service organization that teaches awareness practices to incarcerated and at-risk youth in New York City. A new addition to this year’s program was a Spanish language meditation workshop, making the event more accessible to New York’s Spanish-speaking population. Under a tree not far from the stage, a chipper staff from the T Salon and Emporium, a local business, proffered tea, sandwiches, and the occasional fig.

CYMD in the West

“CYMD in Seattle started with a rainbow,” Steve Wilhelm writes, “Not one in the sky, because this was a typical overcast Seattle day. Rather, the rainbow was made up of monastics’ robes—the golds, maroons, saffrons, blacks, and grays of robes from many different cultures and nations.” The day included a children’s play based on the Jataka tales—stories of the Buddha’s former incarnations—and a stirring talk on Buddhism and ecology by Rev. Don Castro of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist temple.

Alaska hosted three events this year. Participants at the fourth annual Anchorage CYMD enjoyed “a day of dharma for the mind as well as the belly” with food donated by members of the Wat Alaska Yanna Vararam. Another highlight was listening to a Thai monk deliver his first dharma talk in English. Children in Valdezalso enjoyed a dharmic repast as they participated in a mindful eating session and tried their minds at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Pebble Meditation. As a result of the Valdez event, participants decided to establish a weekly practice session at a local community center. Perhaps to be expected in rural Alaska, attendees at the HomerCYMD consisted of twenty-four adults, ten children, two nuthatches, and one moose, who listened to a “Smoky the Bear” sutra as the “gale-force wind” nearly blew away the prayer flags.

events3-p25From Salt Lake City, organizer Shirley Ray reports, “CYMD was a pleasant and positive experience. Days later, at least one sangha reported newcomers drawn from CYMD.” In Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lama James Kalfas teased a dharma talk out of a Shakespearean sonnet. As a burst of rain descended, Qi Gong and “Breath of Fire” yogic breathing sessions warmed the crowd gathered under the canopy. While there weren’t any talks, performances, or guided meditations at the CYMD in Nevada City, California, meditators sat alone or in groups for a day of “simple and nourishing” silent contemplation.

CYMD in the East

In Brattleboro, Vermont, CYMD coincided with the town’s annual “Strolling of the Heifers,” a celebration of the town’s cows and rural life. Cheryl Wilfong quips, “Meditators had a chance to hear some �dhar-moo,’ enhance the Buddhist-bovine connection, and meditate on the Zen koan of Mu.”

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