Central Park Summerstage is about to get the coolest—and probably chillest—audience ever. Not for Shakespeare in the Park (though we’ve seen attendees deliver a mean standing O). In just a few weeks, 2,000 Millennials will descend on the lawn for a dose of meditation en masse.
On July 13, The Big Quiet—in conjunction with Well+Good—is taking over Summerstage, for what will be the meditation social club’s largest event yet. Picture a “conscious market place” with brands like Outdoor Voices, Splendid Spoon, Sky Ting Yoga; music performances alongside meditation; and a wellness-savvy crowd that looks like they shop at places you need to know about. Tickets, $25, go on sale today.
It’s the latest mega experience created by the fast-growing group, which started just a year ago (at Summerstage, coincidentally), says founder Jesse Israel, who got 500 people there in the rain and has seen interest in the social meditation scene grow like crazy. “There’s something really special, there’s an energy, about people coming together to socialize and connect around meditation,” says founder Jesse Israel, who previously ran a music label and said the passion’s similar to what you see in the music world.
Since last summer he’s filled amazing landmark venues around New York—most recently Lincoln Center—with a buzzy, wellness-savvy crowd of modern meditators of say 800 people or so, plus hundreds who attend smaller monthly Medi Clubs.
“I’m constantly blown away by how many people are interested in sharing this experience together. Unlike a movie premiere or a band, this event requires the audience to play a role. The event is the participants. It doesn’t exist otherwise. It’s about ‘I’m coming, I’m bringing a friend,’ The experience is really powered by the attendees. I love it because it gets exponential fast,” says Israel.
And one thing to know about The Big Quiet, despite its name, is that it’s a largely social experience, and Summerstage is no exception. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. for mingling and perusing in the marketplace, and at about 7 p.m., Israel will kick off the meditation with some opening remarks. He’s deliberate speaker, and tends to temper his role as inspiration leader with a heaping tablespoon of reality and self-awareness. When I ask him what he’s going to say in front of 2,000 people, he laughs and says, “Something not preachy, that’s for sure.”
It’s a you-do-you kind of meditation. So you can count your breaths, repeat a mantra, or work with whatever you’ve got. Beginners usually get prompts for something to focus on, which is helpful if getting your to-do list under control is usually what comes up. (Guilty.)
Immediately after the meditation the buzzy sound goddess Sara Auster will conduct a short sound bath (here’s what you need to know about that amazing phenomena) followed by “more music, new sounds, and performers,” says Israel. “There’s something so powerful when you follow meditation with performance and art; you’re in the most receptive state…It was the number one piece of feedback we got at the Lincoln Center event, how mind-blowing that was.”
The Big Quiet is a celebration of what Israel calls the blend—“the intermix of modern culture with conscious living. This is why we feature DJs, musicians, and unique locations alongside meditation, sound baths, and clean-eating. Many of us live our lives with this blend. The Big Quiet allows us to share it together.” And this summer, whether that’s on the lawn or streaming live it via Well+Good’s Facebook page, those numbers will be bigger than ever before.
Inspired to kickstart your meditation practice? There’s an app for that—a lot of them, actually. Here are seven of our favorites. Plus: our guide to meditating, without stressing yourself out about it. And meet the wellness world’s next (surprising) star…