There was meditation, live music and talks from a rabbi and imam from the Jewish and Muslim community about overcoming stereotypes, as well as moments to acknowledge togetherness and 9/11. It was a jam-packed event in every sense of the word.
On March 19, Kit and Ace joined together with The Big Quiet to hold a mass meditation at the One World Observatory, the tallest building in the western hemisphere.
It was meditation at 1,776 feet. Literally.
Eleven hundred people took over the top three floors of Observatory to pause, connect and take in a staggeringly beautiful view of New York City. Hosted by the Medi Club, guests participated in a meditation experience unlike any other, a global practice that connected people from around the world – we hosted simulcast viewings of the event in eight of our showrooms across North America, with thousands more experiencing the Big Quiet through an online livestream. We spoke with Jesse Israel, the founder of Medi Club and The Big Quiet, the day after the event to talk about the power of optimism, connecting with people a world away, and what it’s like to meditate that high up in the air.
Kit and Ace: How are you feeling now that the event is complete?
Jesse Israel: The feedback that we've been receiving has been pretty incredible. People were moved by the experience, by this concept of it being bigger than just the group right there – the fact that there were people from other parts of the world tuning in with us and sharing in these experiences; not just of meditation, quiet, and peace, but also of togetherness, unity, and empathy. People got pretty lifted up from it.
KA: What was it like knowing that you had people participating all over the world, with some congregating together to watch?
JI: We've never had simulcasts happen before. The fact that there were actually people congregating together in other locations, that felt more powerful to me than anything else. It was this momentous thing but it didn't feel forced. It really felt "meant to be." That was really cool. We have done live streams before, but we've never had live streams where we've had over 300,000 live views, collectively.
KA: For those that don’t know, what is The Big Quiet trying to accomplish?
JI: I would say that the greater purpose of the Big Quiet is to celebrate human connection –connection with ourselves and connection with others, so we can share in meaningful moments of togetherness. At every Big Quiet, that's what we hope to achieve, for people to have that sense of togetherness, and to feel a sense of celebration around belonging to each other, around belonging to other humans, around loosening our defensiveness and our divides that separate us from each other. To just be there together, to share in quiet, to share in culture, in performance, in great food, great views, in great space, and great architecture. To celebrate the good things in life, which really, in my opinion, start with being with other people. I think that that was achieved last night.
KA: What was it like to be so high up, and to have that view during the experience?
JI: It was a really powerful view. Our group was positioned throughout all three floors and spread out in a way where collectively we had a 360-degree view of the world beyond, which is a pretty cool thing to be able to share. It's incredible. I've never seen anything like it. Some areas, it was like a rainbow essence of different colors lit up, as you look down on the city and on Jersey. It was really stunning.
KA: What’s the energy like in a room when there are that many people gathered for the same purpose?
JI: The energy started really frantic and tense, because there were a lot of people coming into the building. This thing was very much at-capacity. The energy was pulsating. You could feel it throughout the building. By the time we started the experience, people calmed down. After the imam and the rabbi spoke, I think people's hearts started to open up. The meditation really just brought everybody down to a calmer space. Then when the music happens, especially when it's these raw, stripped down performances, then it starts to unite people. People will start crying, or it'll connect hearts. By the time that was done, people seemed to be very energized, grounded, inspired. You sensed that people felt lucky to be a part of this thing, connected with this larger concept of what's possible in life, and especially what's possible with each other. The fact that all of us got to come and meditate in this incredible building, in this unique circumstance, I feel like it gives people a sense of anything's possible. It's cool to feel that.
KA: How did the night end?
JI: We had a final moment where we looked out at the city and the world beyond us. Everyone shifted their bodies to the windows, and we had a moment of quiet, a moment of gratitude for the vantage point that we had. We took a moment of quiet for the lives that were lost on 9/11. We took a moment to consider that the world is a reflection of who we are. We acknowledged that when we come together and channel our energy in a direction of empathy, love, and togetherness, the planet feels it in some way. We encouraged people that didn't know each other to meet each other, to say hello, ask how they're feeling, listen, look into each other's eyes. Then the DJ came on. She put on one of the tracks from the new Drake record, which I personally requested and was very happy about. Then we had a little 11:00 PM party on a Sunday night above the clouds.