Last week was a momentous week in YA Outreach, and the BMCM in general, because we held the first ever passage meditation webinar! When the YA Outreach team began brainstorming the project, we thought, "How amazing would it be if 50 people signed up?" By the time we held the webinar last Saturday, 441 people had registered from over 20 countries. Talk about exceeding expectations!
The breakdown of registration was really interesting: 13% were YAs, 42% have an established passage meditation practice, and 23% were from outside the US. See the graphs below for some other stats:
We originally envisioned the webinar as an event primarily for newcomers who had no background in passage meditation. But as we looked at registrations, we saw something really interesting developing. . . lots of registrations were coming in from long-time passage meditators. The webinar turned into a real community event, with webinar-viewing-parties taking place at satsangs around the world.
As it was a new venture, we ran into a number of challenges along the way: organizing the right lighting and backdrops, setting up microphones to equalize the volumes, filming and streaming video clips, fielding virtual questions, and remembering to mute our microphones during the video clips - we learned so much!
Thinking of our international friends, we decided to hold the webinar at 7 a.m. in California, which meant we had to gather at 6 a.m. for a lighting and sound check (needless to say our meditation was EARLY!). Check out the photos below for a behind-the-scenes peek at the set-up.
Apart from just the technology aspect, this was a great foray into figuring out how to reach a new audience. We tried a variety of promotion and got some great data about how to reach our audience. This will be handy not just in YA Outreach, but across the BMCM organization!
The webinar shared an overview of the practice of passage meditation and its foundations, then shared the basic instructions in meditation. There were video clips from two longtime passage meditators, as well as a video clip from Easwaran. Before ending with Q&A, the presenters led everyone in a 5-minute passage meditation simulation to give newcomers a taste of what the practice is like. We received wonderful questions from newcomers about choosing passages, finding the right pace for going through the passage, timing, etc. The questions themselves were inspiring!
To close, we just wanted to share a few comments from participants:
The presenters and the moderator all exuded a joy that was infectious. It was refreshing also that there was no pretense, no need for special accoutrements (e.g. the flowing robes and incense themes) but they were regular people to whom I could relate and feel like if we met, we would easily be friends. Thank you for sharing the joy of this practice!
I hope you offer more of these. I have read several of Easwaran's books, but I learned a lot from the webinar. Online is probably my only option other than the books because there are no seminars near me and the cost of the seminar + airfare would be too much. So I am grateful for the free webinar.
Thank you for sharing passage meditation with the world. It was a great feeling that for five minutes many people all over the world were focused on the Prayer of St. Francis!
If you attended the webinar, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Where were you watching from? What was your experience like?