Welcome to Form+Function, our series with INFINITI that focuses on health and wellness ideas that have one thing in common: they are simple, streamlined, and elegant—but powerful. Here’s to the the small changes that can pay huge dividends in your diet, your fitness, your health, and your career.
Here’s an idea that you don’t need a manual to pull off: sitting in meditation—and maybe calling a few friends to sit with you. That’s it. No long to-do lists ahead of time, no elaborate procedures once guests arrive. Just the practice of meditation, coupled with the power of connection with other people.
But this ingeniously simple concept, in the form of New York City’s The Big Quiet, has blazed a trail as a new way to meditate—and, crucially, a new way to socialize in a mindful way. Instead of grabbing a beer together or going to see a band, New Yorkers are showing up in droves for events planned by the group, which launched last summer with a Central Park sitting that drew 1,500 meditators. In September, a capacity crowd set sail on the Hudson River for a meditation and sound bath, and had to turn 500 people away beforehand because the boat only held 700 people. And a few months ago, Jazz at Lincoln Center—one of the most acoustically attuned venues anywhere—was the setting for a sold-out sound bath.
“Ultimately, The Big Quiet’s growth is about the people who believe in it and how they act on that belief,” says founder Jesse Israel. And it’s also about the message it sends to the New Yorkers who pass by the large-scale meditation events, marveling at the stillness in the midst of New York City’s trademark chaos.
In other words, The Big Quiet’s very simple idea—let’s meditate together!—is creating a ripple effect around the city that never sleeps, making “serene and still” the new “coffee and cigarettes.”
How did they do it? And how can you take your creative idea—that one you almost don’t want to admit to other people, because it seems impossible—and turn it into a revved-up reality?
Keep reading for Israel’s advice on how to take a simple idea and turn it into a powerful force.
1. Identify a purpose
“Get clear about why you are creating your project, and stay close to your purpose as you build,” Israel says, adding that The Big Quiet was created “so people could share meditation in an exciting, social and culturally relevant way. We constantly remind ourselves of this ‘why’ as we make decisions.”
2. Create a core community
Consider this: How can you bring people together (physically or digitally) through the celebration or embodiment of your project’s purpose? “A few months before our first Big Quiet, we created a club (Medi Club) where we invited people to share meditation in a way that was in line with our purpose of modernizing meditation: at a fashion design loft with great music, popular food and relevant conversations,” Israel says. “Once we started to outgrow the loft, we created The Big Quiet to be able to celebrate our purpose with more people.”
3. Empower your community
Think about what calls-to-action can you give your community members to activate them into ambassadors of your project’s purpose. “For all of our Big Quiet events, we create unique ways for our community members to take roles, volunteer and share about our purpose with their friends, families and social tribes,” Israel says.
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