Vince Lasorso Jr. has had enough of Cincinnati's rising crime rate, including the 79 homicides in 2005, so he's doing something about it. He's recruiting an army of at least 3,000 volunteers that he'll train and then lead in an assault on those statistics.
He'll use an unconventional weapon: mind power. He'll tap into that through the ancient Chinese moving meditation of Qi Gong.
Lasorso, owner of White Willow School of Tai Chi in Silverton, has been a master of Tai Chi for 15 of his 30 years of practice. His campaign is an attempt both to reduce the crime rate and to produce evidence of measurable effects of group meditation focused on such behavior.
The campaign starts at 10 a.m. April 29 at Mirror Lake in Eden Park, synchronizing this region with World Tai Chi Day — "when so many more people around the world will also be moving," Lasorso says — and lasts though May.
Lasorso says he has precedents for this initiative. Between June 7 and July 30, 1993, in Washington, D.C., 4,000 advanced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation — less than 1 percent of the city's population — meditated twice daily on reduction of violent crime. A study published in 1999 in a peer-reviewed journal, Social Indicators Research, reported that D.C.'s violent crime decreased by 23 percent during the study.
Lasorso's program adapts the D.C. idea. Because the Cincinnati experiment will include raw recruits to meditation, it "enlists 1 percent of the population to commit to 30 days of moving Qi Gong meditation, incorporating sonic vibrations, visualizations and expansion of the electromagnetic fields of the human heart," he says. "This process creates a peaceful field effect, which has been demonstrated to reduce crime rates."
Normally, the heart's pulse waves are measurable up to 18 feet out from the body, according to Lasorso. But meditation can increase the effect.
"When you feel the beating of the heart and learn to move with it, (you can) extend that even further and help events further," he says.
The sounds are like a continuous "OM."
"You already know how to do it by breathing noisily," Lasorso says. "It's just a matter of controlling it."
Visualizations will focus on Mirror Lake, a circle that will help the peaceful energy generated by the meditations "radiate outward in all directions and encompass the most disturbed areas of the city," he says.
Cincinnati, formerly a huge sacred Indian mound site, is a "coherent field in this area" which "will amplify" the positive energies generated, Lasorso says.
This idea is the technique of Fountain International, based in England. Participants focus on a disturbed location in order to restore harmony and balance.
Lasorso says he decided to marshal the forces of the mind to combat crime in Cincinnati after concluding that the traditional approaches, such as prison sentencing and increased policing, are ineffective.
"Conventional methods will not neutralize a murderous thought," he says. "They cannot eliminate the longings, lackings and fear which fuel crime and drug addiction. Therefore the only hope for the next victim is to alter the environment in which thought itself occurs via non-conventional approaches."
Mayor Mark Mallory declined to comment, and requests for comment from the Cincinnati Police Department went unanswered.
1 percent solution
Qi Gong is a repeated series of specific moves that makes it easy to teach, expends no mental energy in deciding what's next and induces a deeper state of meditation than Tai Chi, to which it is related, Lasorso says.
People who want to join the experiment without using Qi Gong are also welcome, he says. What matters is directing the group toward creating a peaceful force field, using meditation, prayer or whatever method suits the individual.
Meena Manek, director of the Maharishi Enlightenment Center in Cincinnati, says any meditation can help reduce stress in individuals and communities.
"But this is absolutely wonderful," she says. "It is joyful that (Lasorso) is taking the initiative. We would like to help in any way."
Measurement of results in Cincinnati should be straightforward, Lasorso says. Crime statistics from past years are a matter of public record and new statistics appear quickly.
Lasorso is building a Web site for instructions in Qi Gong and links to studies demonstrating the power of meditation. He also plans Qi Gong lessons in the run-up to April 29. During May, he anticipates participants will meet weekly.
But meeting isn't necessary, and it doesn't matter when participants meditate for community peace, as long as they do it each day, Lasorso says. The Mirror Lake program, which will facilitate visualization, has no specific time commitment, because "time and space don't matter" in the metaphysical sphere, he says.
The 3,000 volunteers Lasorso wants represent approximately 1 percent of the population of the city, but he encourages others from Greater Cincinnati to participate.
"If we get 3,000 to do this on one day, we've won," he says. "It's change. If we can get 3,000 people for 30 days, then miracles can happen."
Even without measurable results, it will still be a positive outcome, he says.
"We will have changed the lives of everyone who participates," Lasorso says.
For more information, call Vince Lasorso Jr. at 513-791-9428 or visit www.fountain-international.org.