CITIES OF LIGHT - By Tijn Touber

Light up the world from your living room

Similar to the Down to Earth Collective there is a great initiative that started eight years ago in Amsterdam by meditation teacher Tijn Touber. He wanted to find a way to give back the power to humans all over the world to change their environment. He came up with Cities of Light. 

Ten years ago Tijn came across research done in cities where people meditated regularly that showed that the field of positivity they created benefited their environment. There was measurably less crime and violence and more creativity, flow and a sense of wellbeing. So, he thought: let’s see if we can bring Amsterdam into more flow by getting together every Sunday evening for an hour of meditation.

After a few months Tijn’s living room became too small, so he asked participants to open up their living rooms as well. Tijn: ‘It started snowballing and before we knew it we had to create a website to help people all over Holland to find living rooms near them or open up their own living room. Now every month people in more than 1000 living rooms around the world gather to share an hour of silence.’

The success of the Cities of Light movement is for a large part due to the fact that many people feel powerless to change their environment for the better. Tijn: ‘We all want to contribute to a better world, but often wonder how we can do this. The Cities of Light movement gives people the opportunity to actually make a difference. People kindly open up their living rooms to others to gather and meditate. The movement is not connected to any formal spiritual or religious organization and free of charge.’ 

The research that sparked Tijn to start the Cities of Light movement was done by American psychologists Candace Borland en Garland Landrith. Between 1967 and 1972 they measured many variables in eleven cities where at least one percent of the population meditated regularly and compared this to eleven cities where this was not the case. They found that in cities where one percent meditated the level of criminality went down with 8.2 percent per year. In cities where this was not the case levels just went up with 8.3 percent per year. 

Tijn: ‘These baffling figures inspired other researchers to investigate this phenomenon which was dubbed the Maharishi Effect, after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement who experimented a lot with shared meditation sessions in those days. Sixteen universities and research institutes conducted similar studies and all came up with the same result: shared meditation leads to less crime, less accidents, less lawsuits, less divorces, less suicides and flew epidemics and more harmony and flow in communities.’

During the Summer of 1993 some 4000 yogi’s came to Washington DC for an experiment. They predicted they could bring criminality down with 20 percent through meditation alone. The chief commissioner of the Washington DC police force was skeptical: ‘Only six feet of snow can bring criminality down with 20 percent.’ But he decided to play along and to his astonishment the average crime rate went down with an average of 18 percent. Other experiments in New Delhi (1980) brought the criminal rates down with eleven percent over a period of five months. In Puerto Rico (1984) and Manila (1980 and 1984) similar results were measured. Research during a six year period in the British Merseyside district (from 1987-1992) showed that this was the only one of 42 districts where crime rates dropped.

So, how many coherent people do we need to create a noticeable shift in our communities? Tijn: ‘Not as many as you might think. Paradigm shifts have always been created by a small group of dedicated individuals coming together. Research shows that when 3,5 percent of a population “gets it” the paradigm shifts. That’s not many people. But when these people are coherent, you need even less, estimated to be the square root of 1 percent of a population. 

This means for the UK, with around 66 million inhabitants, the square root of 1 percent amounts to 812 people. For the USA with a population of 327 million people you only need 1808 dedicated individuals. For Germany with 82 million people you need 905 people and for France we need 812 coherent meditators.’

So, if you wish to see a more positive, humane, loving and harmonious world, all you need to do is create these feelings inside yourself, sit together with a group of like minded friends and allow this force field to spread out into your surroundings. With over a thousand living rooms practicing this already it has become increasingly easy to get into this coherent state of mind.

Tijn: ‘I dream of a time when there are Cities of Light living rooms in every country around the globe, where people can come home to and get a sense of what it’s like to live in peace and harmony. When you look at our website it looks so beautiful to see this grid of living rooms lighting up the globe. We’re hoping it will spread throughout the world the coming years. And why not? We all want the same, we all have the same aspirations for ourselves and our children. And: we all have a living room, no matter how small.’

Every second Sunday of the month all living rooms meditate together from 8:00-9:00 PM. Tijn: ‘These evenings are glorious. You don’t need to meditate, you are being meditated by the field of all those participating. I can feel the difference so clearly from when we started 8 years ago. We can create anything we like, we just need to know how to become aligned within ourselves and with those around us.’

For more meditation (audio) exercises, inspiration and information about finding or signing up your living room, please visit:

How to meditate

We asked Tijn to tell us how to meditate in simple words. He says: ‘Begin by becoming aware of your breath and deepen your breath with every out-breath, imagining sinking deeper into your body and relaxing your muscles. The second step is about quieting your. What really helps is to smile at your thoughts. Don’t take them too seriously. Look at them from a distance, like an observer. Don’t try to change or stop them. Just step back, like stepping into the eye of the hurricane, and watch them become more quiet.’

The third step is about creating emotional stability. Tijn: ‘We are always trying to get rid of unwanted emotions. We want to let them go. But the secret to emotional stability and integrating past trauma is to let emotions be. Once you find that quiet place inside yourself, the eye of the storm, you can allow your emotions to be there without wanting to get rid of them. I often call it embracing the tiger, or dancing with your demons. When you allow your emotions to flow, they will let you go.’ 

Tijn has been teaching meditation for over thirty years to many different groups of people around the world, amongst which police officers, prisoners, drug addicts, school kids, soldiers and judges. His experience is that once these three basic steps are practiced daily, your system becomes quiet, serene and silent - almost transparent. Tijn: ‘That’s when the magic starts happening. When thoughts and emotions become still and your body is relaxed, you will find that inspiration and flow states become natural.’

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