On any given Friday during lunchtime, near the corner of Main and Prairie downtown, you might notice people blowing bubbles to regulate their breathing, standing hunched over their phones to send a kind text, or writing lists of things for which they are grateful. You’ll see Hines Center staff members holding hand-painted signs with messages like “Practice Gratitude” or “Practice Kindness,” smiling at passersby and engaging anyone who stops to ask what’s going on. You have found Pop-Up Practices!
Pop-Up Practices, a new initiative of the Hines Center, is designed to spread happiness and well-being in the downtown community through lighthearted, accessible practices anyone can do.
The idea came out of a review of training materials that encouraged the use of a “Gratitude Jar” to promote positivity by identifying and writing down specific moments of gratitude. Part of our mission is to teach people to use these kinds this kind of tools to connect with ourselves and others. Still, it seems like “preaching to the choir” if all we do is set up a Gratitude Jar somewhere in our lobby!
We watch out our windows every day as people come and go on the streets of downtown Houston. Sometimes they walk by in groups or in pairs with smiles on their faces. Many times they pass by alone, head down with eyes on the sidewalk or their phone, disconnected from anything or anyone they might pass.
We decided to offer portable, accessible forms of spiritual practices and take them to the streets – literally. The people who stop respond with enthusiasm, interest, and frequent expressions of thanks for bringing something positive and uplifting into their day. This is exactly our intent as we get to know our neighbors and introduce them to what we have to offer.
At the Hines Center, we believe people long to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. Simple things like what we do in Pop-Up Practices help us offer people other ways to add meaning and purpose to their lives. Come see us this week!