Thursday, September 6, 2007

Me VS mall security...

I was meditating at Katy Mills Mall a few days ago.
People reacted like they usually do: They took pictures, laughed, read my signs out loud, told me I was "awesome," and looked at me weird(since my eyes were closed, I'm guessing on that last one)

About 30 minutes into my meditation, a guard came up to me and said, "Sir, you can't do that here."
I slowly looked up and calmly said, "Why?"
She fished around for a legitimate reason and said, "Well we've gotten complaints about you. Some people find it offensive."
So I said, "WHAT is it that I can't do?"
- "Well you can't be here with the signs."
-"So if I don't have the signs can I sit here and meditate?"
-"No, you can't be here in the walkway."
-"So If I sit on the bench, without the signs, can I meditate?"
She paused for a moment and realized the absurdity of the conversation and said, "...let me check" then she got on her walkie-talkie and all I could pick out was: static..."meditator"...static...

I briefly watched her walk away from me and closed my eyes to go back to meditation. About 5 minutes later the head of security comes up to me and says, "Sir, you're going to have to leave the mall."
Then I proceeded to have the exact same conversation I had with he lady. I slowly looked up and said, "Why?"
to which he responded, "because you can't do this here."
- "Why can't I do this here?"
-"Because you can't!"
-"WHAT is it that I can't do?"
-"You can't sit here with your signs."
-"So if I don't have the signs can I sit here?"
-"No, you can't do it in the walkway."
-"So if I sit on the bench, with no signs, can I meditate there?"
-"NO, there's no meditating in the mall."
This caught me by surprise. Surely, they can't enforce a ban on closing your eyes. So I told him, "I'm just closing my eyes."
But he continued to repeat that there was no meditating in the mall. So I asked him, "If any of these people sitting on benches closed their eyes, are you going to go kick them out?" He sidestepped my question by saying, "There's no sleeping in the mall, there's no meditating in the mall. If you refuse to leave I'm going to have to get the police to remove you."

At this point I just decided to comply, "I'll leave, I just want to know why I can't sit on a bench and close my eyes. It doesn't make any sense." He escorted me out to the parking lot where at one point I asked him, "Do you even know what meditation is?" he said, "yeah yeah, it's finding your own inner peace." Wow, he actually knew something, I was about to tell him to go google it.
Then I was told that if I came back and meditated, I would be trespassing. Obviously this claim has no merit or legal basis.

When I go back, I will wear a shirt that replaces the message on my sign, and I will sit on a bench.

Is there a policy against wardrobe?


Marin Working Mom said...

I like the idea. A peace activist. I think you got it right this time, just wear the shirt. You can even have them made in the mall so you can say that you are a patron.

cakau said...

Alex. You are my hero. Please call me next time you go..IM IN!!
peace & pommegranates

Chris said...

Unfortunately, it is private property, which means that they don't have to let anyone in for any reason they want. Try a public place like a park, or city hall. ^_^

Bare Foot Diva said...

I read this and I see that society is so use to going, going, going that we can't even recognize a good healthy thing when we are confronted with it. It also shows how afraid we are to just sit and listen to our inner self, our inner being, our souls.

Alex, keep doing the good that makes you feel good. Though many will be uncomfortable with it, there are many more that will feel good and many more that will give it a try along with the many more that will remember to come back to themselves.

Thank you for being you. Peace

Naveen said...

hello alex,

not that you advocate a reductionist or a superficial understanding, but am wary of 'meditation' becoming equated merely with sitting down and closing eyes as many of the pics and invites on the blog seem to suggest. also it comes across as deliberate strategies to go out and 'demonstrate' and 'spread' peace.. which sound almost missionary like!

the way this story has been framed, as 'me VERSUS the mall security' and the tone the post takes also makes me uncomfortable. could imposing oneself onto somebody who is not ready to engage with us, and then sound sarcastic or mildly admonishing of his disinterest, be violence?

the intention is not be critical. just sharing my concerns. thats all.

best wishes.

manantial said...

bah! naveen, maybe relax with the concern about violence, etc. don't you think you may be over-thinking this a bit? why worry so much about his motives when it's clear that he's not conflicted himself. you seem to be saying that you don't think he means any harm, but you're afraid he might be causing it anyway. do you really believe this? if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then don't join him. but otherwise, live and let live- no?

Naveen said...

sure manantial, its purely my perception only. thanks :)

Minskore said...

While I have no issue whatsoever with each individual in society being allowd to have their own set of beliefs, and to a certain degree being allowed to practice those beliefs, I do not feel that any one individual has the right to impose their beliefs on others. Your behaviour comes across to me as someone who is making an effort to force your own personal beliefs in other people's face. Shouldn't I have the right to shop in a mall without having to manouvering around signs or people promoting their own agenda or belief system? Even if you weren't obstructing a walkway, having signs preaching your personal beliefs to those around you is wrong, and you will only ever lose the respect of people that way. Had you sat on a bench, without signs, and meditated, you would probably have gained a great deal of respect. You don't need to force your views in our faces, it's better that we see in you a great example of what we'd like to be, that is far more powerful than your signs or any physical act of "getting noticed". There's a reason why the majority of meditation is done in private, because that is where you find it's real purpose. People who meditate in private do so for no other reason other than to sink deep within themselves and into a place of quiet and harmony. Meditating in a public place, and intentionally trying to "get noticed" is defeating the whole intent and purpose of meditation to begin with.

DARLA said...

I think this is being overblown. I envy someone who can meditate in public. I think I might try it myself as I have a very hard time escaping my constantly active mind without 2 or three distractions or activities. Perhaps it will be easier to 'shut out the world' than it is to shut out my ego. As for the "forcing" people to see thing your way...if that is the way you see it, I am sorry, but it is refreshing to be "forced" to see a peaceful message for a change! Open your eyes... we are bombarded constantly by negative, if not blatantly violent ideals EVERYWHERE. Just as a tiny example; next time you are driving count the number of pick-ups you see before you see an image of 'Calvin' pi__ing on something. Now that is forceful, offensive and violent and I see it Everywhere.

AzureKnight said...

the problem here is you are using public access private property to spread your message, if you bought a kiosk in the mall, set up signs on it, and meditated thats fine, if you sit on a bench and don't spread your message, thats fine, but start with that, don't antagonize the security purposefully defying them, you claim to want peacefulness yet you meditate in a loud environment? you call this "me vs mall security..." thats not peaceful mindset, thats you looking for trouble and rebelling against it.