Meditation marathon aims at healing the world

Sixty-five Buddhist centres in Russia are taking part in an international meditation marathon. Participants from 45 different countries are connected via live Internet streaming. Organisers say the event aims to generate positive energy to heal the world

Most marathons are about movement and physical endurance. This one is about ceasing all activity and training your mind.

For three days and three nights, Buddhists around the world will meditate in the hope of making the world a better place.  

“Our main goal is to try to make the world softer, more loving, more compassionate,” Elena Leontyeva, Co-ordinator of the Moscow Centre, explains.  

Moscow has joined the ranks of 65 Russian cities and a total of 550 locations in 45 countries around the world.

Some decided to show up out of curiosity.

“I was raised as an atheist. I didn't know anything about any religion. I like collective meditations – they impact you, whether you call it a prayer or meditation,” one of the participants says.  

For others, however, it is a long-term interest that even helps them improve their attitude towards life.  

While meditation is mostly about mental concentration, it does involve some physical exertion.

Our main goal is to try to make the world softer, more loving, more compassionate.

Elena Leontyeva

As Elena Leontyeva says, it is difficult to meditate for more than a few hours, and most people will be taking turns, coming and leaving, over a period of 72 hours.  She adds that only highly experienced Buddhists could meditate not just for hours or days, but for years in a row without food, drink or bathroom breaks.

But others say meditating is not about transcending the physical but helping improve it.

“This is not like flying away somewhere to Nirvana or just levitating or whatever – this is not that kind of magic, that’s just the exercise for your mind and attention, which means more clarity in your thoughts,”  Dmitry Alekseev, a participant, believes.  

Participants are chanting the mantra, or spiritual poem, of the White Tara – a female Buddha associated with compassion, longevity, and mental tranquility.  

The marathon was first held in 2003. And this year, Buddhists around the world have gathered to do it again.

Seventy two hours sounds like a long time. However, it takes years to reach the ultimate state of mind – or Nirvana. This, however, is the beginning of something positive, in a world that increasingly needs more of it.