Sunday, August 24, 2008

DNC Meditate '08 - Opening Ceremonies

I have the privilege of living in Denver during one of the most historic events of our time. The Democratic National Convention and associated events present amazing opportunities for participation, whether as a delegate or a "regular" citizen, even without the prized delegate or media pass credentials.

One of those is Meditate '08. As noted on their website, the last thing you’d expect to see at a national political convention is a group of delegates sitting down in the midst of the clash and clamor for a few minutes of silent meditation. But that’s exactly what Meditate 08 is doing. Tonight I attended the Opening Ceremony at the Denver Aquarium, and by my estimate, more than 100 peace seekers came to meditate and send positive energy to those in Denver attending the DNC.

The ceremony began with a Temple Bell Countdown by Bill Hamaker and a Buddhist Prayer of Loving Kindness delivered by Venerable Danan Henry, Roshi Zen Center of Denver. These were followed by a Muslim Call to Prayer by Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, from the Abrahamic Initiative. The Monks of Wat Buddhawararam lead a Buddhist Chant, which extended loving kindness to those who attended, the DNC, the City of Denver, and the World.

Honored Guest Giancarlo Esposito, two-time Obie Award Winner, Star of "Do the Right Thing" and "Law & Order," delivered inspiring comments to the group. He said that his resume is not who he is, and he reminded the group that we are all more than we might think. His beautiful soul shone even brighter than his impressive credentials. After his comments, Meditate 08 co-coordinators Don Morealle and Reverend Dr. Toni Cook introduced several of the teachers who will be leading meditations over the next few days.

The group fell (even more) silent when Grammy Nominee and Tibetan Music Award Winner Nawang Khechog played the Tibetan Longhorn and flute as part of a meditation. Words cannot describe the beauty of his music or the energy released by his playing. African and Native American chanting followed the flute, lead by African Griot and spritual teacher Opalanga Pughand. Then Lloyd Burton of Insight Meditation lead a silent meditation, followed by a Jewish Chant lead by Rabbi Nadya Gross.

The otherwise contemplative audience broke into dance when Rev. Cynthia James of Denver's Mile Hi Church sang "Lift Your Voice," followed by a prayer for "Peace in Many Languages." Denver Kriya Yoga Yogacharya Srinidhi Baba delivered a Sanskrit Benediction, a blessing of peace for All.

Even after all of that, one of the highlights of the evening followed the ceremony when Spiritual Mentor Sara Rain lead Dances of Universal Peace at Fishback Landing Park just across from the Aquarium.

More than thirty Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and secular presenters have been invited to give teachings and lead hour-and-a-half long sessions in meditation, yoga, stress reduction. Evening programs feature Dances for Universal Peace, Kirtan Chanting, and local song writers and singers.

For a schedule of events, location and more information, see Meditate 08's website at Tickets are not required! For information about Universal Peace Dances, see Sara Rain's website at