BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – In the corner of her home, Samara Pascual, 40, starts her day meditating.
Unlike many families in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, Pascual and her husband don’t rush to wake up, get dressed and fight traffic in order to get to work on time. Instead, they take their time and sink into a 30-minute meditation every morning.
The tall and thin blonde sits on the floor with her eyes half-closed and her legs crossed alongside her husband in their spacious apartment with colorful paintings on the walls. Their 5-year-old son is still fast asleep.
Pascual, a piano and music theory teacher, says that they have been practicing this routine for many years.
“The meditation began by chance,” she says. “I had a singing student, and she told me, ‘Do you know there is a Buddhist center in your building?’ I was not aware.”
Pascual visited the center, where she learned about Kadampa meditation, a tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. She says it has changed her perception of reality and has modified her mind.
“I began to meditate, and I realized how it changed the perception of my mind,” she says while joining the tips of all her fingers on her right hand and pointing to the center of her chest. “When you sit down to meditate, it changes your mind.”
She says that normally, the mind is unconscious and erratic. It has continuous thoughts that don’t have solutions.
“Our mind is chaotic,” she says.
Developing the habit of meditation is a lengthy process that requires perseverance, she says.
“In order to meditate, you need to know how to do it and, after, perseverance and understanding that meditation is like the practice of a sport,” she says. “Little by little, you advance. We find it difficult to concentrate, but you have to be perseverant. With time, you achieve your mind calming more quickly.”
The practice of collective meditation is a growing phenomenon among residents of Buenos Aires, where more and more people are convening for outdoor meditations. Meditators say that it generates positive individual changes that later reverberate on a social level for the benefit of the community.
Meditation schools have become prevalent in Buenos Aires. Posters offering meditation courses hang on the walls of small buildings and grand institutions alike throughout the city. People hand out fliers on street corners inviting passersby to lower their stress levels and to improve their quality of life through meditation.
The organization Meditación Masiva Argentina comprises a group of individual meditators who promote collective meditation. Through social networks, they encourage people to convene in a public park to meditate together four times a year.
Adriana Inés Ginatto, one of the organizers of Meditación Masiva Argentina, says that the group formed at the end of 2001 when it succeeded in gathering about 20 people at each of its meetings. Nowadays, the group’s meditations draw about 500 participants. The most recent one was Oct. 28, and the next will take place Dec.