Personal Disclaimer: I am not a fan of communities. It may be my understanding of “community” that is unclear – but it is what it is. I’ve been rejected by many communities most of my life. Most of the communities I have experienced were aggressive towards and threatened by my personal sense of freedom. For many years this led me into a false belief that I am not a people person, it has taken me a long time to realize that community does not equal people. People I like and I can do, communities I don’t.
What is OMCru?
Over recent months I encountered on Twitter an inspiring phenomenon called the Online Meditation Crew which can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #OMCru. People affiliated with this stream announce when they are going to sit down for a short meditation so that others may join them – thus fostering group meditations. I really liked the concept though until recently I never got a chance to participate because it seems to be happening way out of my time zone. Then a couple of months ago I lucked out and ran into a meditation checkin by @shuliji (who indirectly introduced me to OMCru). I came out of the meditation with a flood of thoughts for a web-service based inspired by OMCru. I have since reached out to the founder of OMCru to share my thoughts and yesterday when I tweeted about it – I was ambushed. Coming from meditators made it soft – but it was an ambush.
Yesterday’s swift flood made it clear to me that there is no point in talking to or about an OMCru “community” – there are too many diverse voices, personalities, qualities and motivations participating in it for me to relate to it as a whole. Yet there is an OMCru System in place and my thoughts pertain to it rather then to it’s members. As a precursor to my thoughts I am calling on another precious resource also introduced to me by @shuliji. Following is a video by Dominic Barter of Restorative Circles that wonderfully explains and demonstrates an understanding of “system” that I embrace:
I suffer from an opposite symptom to Dominic’s “System Blindness” – I am prone to “System Brightness” – systems shout out to me and many times the underlying is so powerful that I cannot benefit from the system itself. So I am going to apply my “System Brightness” to OMCru. There are numerous underlying assumptions of order that drive the OMCru system – such as:
- To use it you must use Twitter. It is also useful to be an advanced Twitter user – you need to know what hashtags are and how to use them if you want to stay intune with the OMCru stream.
- To join a meditation you must either connect to a daily scheduled meditation or be with Twitter on you at all times (or at least around the time you want to meditate) – to see who’s meditating now.
- You are awake and active in or near a USA/Canada time-zone which is where the core and most of OMCru meditation originate.
- You can meditate on your own.
- You can time your meditations.
… and the list probably goes on and on with gross and subtle assumptions that define the system. Some of the assumptions are inherited from people/ group dynamics and others are inherited from technological dynamics. It is the technological dynamics of it that I don’t like and, in the spirit of Dominic Barter, “are not serving me well”.
For Me the OMCru System Sucks
- I don’t live with Twitter – I review it only occassionaly. Twitter can easily generate too much noise for my liking. I don’t have mobile internet at all.
- I live in Europe – which means that most of the (current) OMCru meditation activity takes place when I sleep.
- My scheduled meditations take place within a wider practice – which does not include sending updates to Twitter.
- My spontaneous meditations usually meet a thin or silent OMCru stream.
- I like my Twitter stream concise and clean. The OMCru dynamics make an awful mess. Yesterday I encountered a person from the OMCru stream that appealed to me and I wanted to follow. I hesitated to do so because that would bring more useless OMCru noise into my stream.
- I had some thoughts to share with the community – but there was no where to share them (and finally put them up in this post).
For Me the OMCru Idea Rocks
It was just a few days ago that I managed to see beyond the obstacles of the OMCru system and to reconnect with it’s core inspiration. Even though I don’t participate in OMCru meditations it is present with me. I love knowing that many others are engaged in meditation. “System Brightness” tells me that is a system that can bring clarity to the world. I realized that I partake in it even if I don’t meditate with others at the same time. I realized that I partake in it even without meditating, by just witnessing it. Then I realized that my Shakuhachi meditations are a part of it – and I even indulged in sending shoutouts on Twitter. Then I remembered the flood of thoughts that came to me after my first and only OMCru group meditation. They are NOT meant to do anything to an OMCru Community – they ARE intended to improve the OMCru System.
Imagine a web-site where you can join or create meditations:
- You could see a list of upcoming meditations and the people who will be participating in them.
- You could be reminded (by Twitter, Email or a nifty mobile application) of upcoming meditations.
- That nifty mobile application could also signal you gently when a meditation begins and ends.
- You could create a spontaneous or planned meditation, you could invite others to it – you could even give it a theme (a word, a thought, a color, an image, a sound …).
- You could offer or partake in a voice guided meditation.
- You could make a note of reflection after a meditation and/or share with others – in a unique form of dialoge which lends itself to peaceful attention.
- Eventually you could review your meditation history – your reflections, the people you’ve spent time with, etc.
All of this, I believe, would make it easier for the OMCru idea to spread, to reach more people (including me), to create more opportunities for connection, to facilitate a cleaner means of communicating and coming together. In addition it would make it possibl to experience a “bigger picture” of what is happening:
- You could see a map of the world with indications of meditations taking place all over.
- You could see how much meditation has happened & how many people have meditated in the last 24 hours, week, year … or since the inception of the system.
- You could see where in the world meditation is established and where new seeds are growing.
- You could effortlessly organize and coordinate large meditation events.
Anyways … these are just some of my thoughts and my intention was (and remains) to share them in the hope of collaborating with others to transform them into a good working system, to support and nurture the OMCru idea.
Systems (and communities!) tend to become self propagating – which can cause them to lose sight of the values and ideas they are intended to serve. They can become so self-serving that they can even work against their purposes – this is a state of illness. I was surprised by the mass of defensive reactions in the spirit of “We like our community, don’t change it” I received yesterday. I was disappointed by the absence of curiosity.