How to Make America Great
by Cullen Kowalski and Matt WillmottCullen Kowalski knows that our elected leaders will not save us. The solution, he says, is to help guide an evolution in consciousness. Kowalski aims to act locally, but he is not thinking small. In 2013, he founded Samsara House 2023, a rowhouse in Bloomingdale, Washington, D.C., dedicated to promoting healing and awakening by investigating, experimenting and teaching through direct experience. The goal of Samsara House 2023 is to help cause a transformation in global consciousness by 2023, a ten-year deadline inspired by the growth of Ken Wilber's Integral Movement and the potential of Steve McIntosh’s Evolutionary Worldview. Kowalski is a systems engineer and management consultant who left the corporate world to pursue transformational work on a full-time basis. His business partner, Bennett Crawford, is a licensed clinical social worker in Fairfax County. Together they conduct innovative meditation workshops and monthly “Fireside Chat” meditation circles. They invite visitors to try meditation at public events, such as the Bloomingdale Farmers Market, and they offer a dynamic meditation class at East Meets West Yoga Center every Sunday evening.
But their latest effort, Meditate Everywhere is their most ambitious project yet.
“Everyone has the capacity to meditate everywhere, especially when we recognize the most important place we will ever go in life is found in the relationship with ourselves or others,” says Kowalski. “And people spend at least two-thirds of their entire lives at work. Imagine if everybody everywhere, throughout the day, were meditating. Imagine if more bosses, employees, teachers and students—everyone—learned how to create space and healing in the relationship with themselves and others.”
As a business-to-business service, Meditate Everywhere seeks to help businesses, small communities and schools create in-house meditation space solutions. Kowalski and Crawford and their associates meet with a soliciting group to design a full-service program which includes hosting and facilitating meditation sessions, teaching members how to meditate and training meditation teachers, with the intention of developing a self-sustaining practice at each organization.
“You provide the space, we create the environment and manage it,” says Kowalski. “We show how to make mindfulness an integral part of corporate life as well as all life.”
Meditate Everywhere does not aim to simply be a solitary practice. Crawford and Kowalski are pioneering a unique synthesis of "Integral Consciousness,” "Waking Down in Mutuality,” and emergent “Integral We-Space” practices and stand upon the shoulders of several years of their respective formal meditation training in Mahamudra and Zen. Their pragmatic secular form of meditation includes and transcends these traditional meditation practices, focusing on how people engage with one another—a practice they call “Interpersonal Mindful Mutuality.”
“A human being's greatest need after food and shelter may quite well be the need to be emotionally seen, felt and heard by another human being,” Kowalski says. “When these needs are met, people are able to move from being a costly pathology to themselves and society to becoming a full expression of harmony, creativity and compassion itself.” At work, this means that meditation is not only good for our well-being, it’s also good for the bottom line.
Research shows how compassion can create a sense of loyalty with others. Our willingness to trust also increases and wherever there is more trust, job performance improves. As compassion increases trust, loyalty, and creativity, employees become happier and more productive and turnover is lower. Likewise, healthy relations help us stay physically healthier and use fewer sick days too. “Meditating everywhere just makes good business sense,” says Kowalski.
He notes, “In Buddha’s last teaching, he counseled that when a society comes together to make decisions in harmony, honors its elders in their wisdom, cares for its most vulnerable members, and when it respects the environment and listens to its citizens, it can be expected to prosper and not decline. Now is the most important time than ever for humanity to work together. Now is the time for us to develop the mind as the gateway to the collective heart and discover our capacity to embrace others as ourselves, undivided. We can prosper, not decline, whether our elected leaders are guiding us or not, by learning a new way of being in which we meditate everywhere, it’s up to us.”
Meditate Everywhere’s inaugural launch into the Washington, D.C. region takes place this month. For more information contact: [email protected]