Busy environments may not seem like a good place to meditate. But this week we invite the possibility that they can be.
The airport was actually one of my first consistent meditation training grounds since I was traveling so much when I first learned to meditate. Different from my solitary and close eyed practice I had at home, I found the airport filled with a unique buzz of activity and an ideal place to practice simple mindfulness and meditation with an open eyed gaze.
People watching in any busy environment is actually the perfect metaphor when it comes to meditation. Watching the people pass is like when we have thoughts in meditation. They are always there, but we can just witness them without getting pulled in.
The same is true when we are in an environment with lots of people. With a focus on our breath, we can simply observe people passing by without necessarily get drawn into the personal stories and dramas. Sure you may see a cute kid and be reminded of your own, or see a couple fighting and wonder what happened. But sure enough, they pass by, and you return your attention to your breath. It’s just like observing our thoughts.
It is in that spirit that our weekly meditation will focus on embracing busy environments with an open-eyed gaze. The goal this week is less on content and more on location. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Choose a busy location: Find a seat while at the airport, a park or a coffee shop. The subway or bus is also a good place to practice.
2. Breathe: Begin to take notice of your breath and start to deepen as you inhale and exhale through your nose.
3. Keep your eyes open: Allow yourself to have a soft open-eyed downward gaze as you witness people as they pass by. Sunglasses are fine if you are self-conscious. When you feel yourself getting caught in a story, simply bring your awareness back to your breath and where you are sitting.
While this is also a nice opportunity to sit quietly and embrace the sounds of the environment, I’ve included a 5 minute silent meditation below with gentle background music if you choose to not be in complete silence during this practice. Enjoy a week of embracing the busy!
Inspiration: Sharon Salzberg
“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” ~Sharon Salzberg
Guided Meditation Tips
: Silence with Background Music