Zen and Crowd Control
Zen and Crowd Control~ Jo Anne Preston
I can’t stop thinking about the recent devastating crowd crushing deaths, of mostly young people, in Seoul, Korea. Most people have a hard time imagining that something like this can happen to them. It turns out that how to increase your chances of surviving this kind of situation has been studied. Tara Parker-Pope, the well-being editor of the Washington Post, gave an interview on the WI Public Radio morning show sharing things to remember in a crowd to protect oneself. As she spoke, the parallels to the foundation of Zen leadership stood out to me and offered reflections:
- Breath is life. In these crowd situations, death comes most of the time from not being able to breathe, literally having your lungs crushed so that they cannot inhale or exhale. Everything starts and ends with the breath. How is your breathing right now?
- We are not alone. You are safer if you help others. The second most common cause of death is from being trampled. If you can help someone up who has fallen, do so. It can prevent additional deaths including your own. This is essentially about looking for what you CAN do something about and then doing it. Your action impacts the energy of the zone you are in, which impacts the surrounding zones. Zen leadership is shared leadership, combined forces making their mark. Notice the experience of sitting zazen in tandem with another, in person or not. As we pace our breathing, we connect and connection warms our cold and weary core. None of us alone can run a company, solve the climate crisis, fix the political divide, etc. But we can do our part and we can help those around us, and it matters. Where do you have opportunities to connect, to extend yourself out toward, to breathe with?
- Train yourself to be in a state of readiness. Danger in a crowd event happens so fast. You don’t have time to even believe it is happening before it is happening. The body must be ready at all times, not in a state of fear, but as in trained to act without having to think about it. In a crowd, stay upright and keep your balance. In life, our bodies respond to regular training. Have you, like me, found your discipline has waned? Join me to get back on track with these upcoming zazen practices.
Jo Ann Preston is a Zen Leadership practitioner.