Things are a changin' on the banks of the mighty Ohio River. Sahaja Yoga has
been practiced here since 1988 and Shri Mataji has even blessed the Queen City
of Cincinnati twice with Her visits in 1989 and 1992. Yet we continued to struggle
with getting people to our public programs. Perhaps the change took place at
Mother’s 80th birthday program at the Cincinnati Art Museum in which we
spent a significant amount of money and time organizing, but only attracted about
30 people. This convinced many of the local yogis to adopt the new style of giving
realization in spontaneous doses to the public in various community settings.
At first we paid $150 to participate at the Earth Day Festival on the riverfront
where in one afternoon we gave realization to more than 150 adults, teenagers
and children alike. Everyone was very pleased with the outcome and we sought
out other opportunities. Since then another 150 people received realization
at the Flying Pig Marathon Health Expo and 200 in 5 hours at the Asian Festival.
We are set up for the upcoming Juneteenth Festival and the Ohio River Paddle
Fest. The best part is that none of these later events have charged us money.
Event organizers want to attract and entertain people. We fit the bill, albeit
in a very subtle way. With each festival, we are building credibility in the
community. By pointing out that we are not vendors, but participation oriented
attractions we have been able to have fees waived – especially when they
hear where else we’ve participated. Hence, we’re received booth
space for free - worth as much as $1700 in one case. So now we scour the events
calendars published on various websites of the media and the city looking for
other opportunities. Experience has shown us that contacting them 1 or 2 weeks
ahead of time is not too late to participate.
There are other benefits to participating in big name main-stream events.
For one, you can promote it. The day before the Marathon Health Expo an email
was sent to the Cincinnati City Manager with the subject line “meditate
with us for 10 minutes at the ….” . In the email, it was commented
that “on a personal note, it must be frustrating at times to be responsible
for so many people. Please come meditate with us and see if you don’t
notice a difference”. Of course the offer was extended to give an on-site
presentation. To our great surprise, it was accepted with a request to give
a 10 minute presentation at the City Manager’s staff meeting. An even
greater surprise was that the staff meeting included 25 city Department Heads
in attendance including the Police and Fire Chiefs. Not being able to work
on people personally, the speaker showed them how to raise their own Kundalini
and put on bandhans and then they all sat for about 3 minutes in complete silence.
The funny thing was the City Manager was late and totally missed the presentation
and no one apparently expected that they were going to meditate that morning.
But three minutes must have been enough because in a follow up email the City
Manager stated that she didn’t recognize her staff when she later came
in; that they weren’t there usual tense selves, but seemed mellowed out.
A few emails later and we now have a short cut to the city recreation department
with the invitation to hold meetings in local community centers throughout
Things are a changin’ and it’s the credibility Sahaj is receiving.
Yes, in between festivals we do give realization in the parks and at the city’s
farmer’s market, but those are spontaneous and the head count isn’t
as good as at the festivals. One well-chosen event can lead to another and
another and…. So please spend some time on the web surfing your local
events and get involved. Experience has taught us that we only need 6 yogis
to participate. Just remember event organizers are eagerly awaiting your participation!
Jai Shri Mataji !!
The Cincinnati Collective