Quiet meditation has big impact at Okeechobee Music Festival


The stage names at the 2018 Okeechobee Music Festival were also the message of the weekend: Experience this place. Experience this moment in time. Be present in this moment.

Be here now.

That message was artfully illustrated by The Big Quiet, the largest sound meditation ever held at a music festival.

The Big Quiet featured collaborative performances by Arcade Fire‘s Sarah Neufeld, Local Natives’ Taylor Rice & Kelcey Ayer, SOFI TUKKER’s Sophie Hawley-Weld and more than 20 students from the Frost School of Music Choir.

The audience was invited to participate in interactive ways, using collective breath, voice and silence to create a powerful moment of connection with thousands of people.

The hour of meditation started with a song by Sophie Hawkley-Weld, as the audience settled and took seats on the ground in front of the stage. Some sat on blankets or large scarves. Some paired up to lean on each other back-to-back. Two groups spread out colorful parachutes providing space for dozens of participants.

The Big Quiet encouraged participants to focus on love and on forgiveness, as thousands of fans took a break from the excitement of the music festival for an hour of contemplation. Photo by K. Elsken.

The song seemed to draw others to the meditation, and the gaps between groups started to fill in. Thousands quietly joined the meditation. Each found a space to sit, a place to themselves within the multitude. The crowd spread out beyond the stage to the shade of the trees at the edge of the grove.

The guided meditation focused energy on relaxing tension, and on expressing love and forgiveness.

The Big Quiet ended with a group sing-along, in three-part harmony.

The message in the melody was simply: “Here and now, my soul remembers, Oh! This is waking up.”

As the last round of the song faded, thousands of participants turned to strangers around them for group hugs, their smiling faces radiant.

For an hour, the cell phones had been silent.

For an hour, the outside world had been forgotten.

For an hour, thousands at the music festival simply lived the message: “Be Here Now.”

Thousands of festival goers participated in group meditation in front of the BE stage Sunday at the Okeechobee Music Festival. Photo by K. Elsken.

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