How to meditate in a busy, public place

From morning until evening, as we go about our normal daily routine, we are usually surrounded by other people. Some of those are connected to us personally, many are total strangers. The world is a busy place and it can be difficult to find peace within it.

That busyness can be inspiring; but for many, the constant activity and flow of people and their demands proves overwhelming. How often do you find yourself thinking ‘I wish I had more space’? Or ‘I’d love an hour to myself’?

Living a balanced life


Modern meditation can help you to take part in the world, while living a balanced and creative life. Through meditation practice, you can learn to use the hustle and bustle that surrounds you to free yourself and lead a happier, healthier life. And the good news is, you don’t need to abscond to India to find yourself (although that is a nice thought).

The whole point of meditation is meditation itself and its benefits will grow and evolve, no matter where you are. That’s right: you can do it right here, right now.

There is a great line in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:

“It is only for the sake of the Self that the world exists” 2.21

In other words, the world and all its day-to-day distractions, noise and activity can be used for the practice of meditation. This means that wherever you are and whatever you are doing can be a meditation. Life itself can be a meditation.

Moments of peace


It’s quite possible to find moments of peace, solitude and tranquility right at the heart of the everyday. There are some modern urban meditators who seek out great places to meditate in the heart of the city and then rate them. Apparently the top floor of
Barnes and Noble at Union Square NYC is a great place on a Sunday!

But finding this solace in a busy environment does take practice. You must establish a regular modern meditation habit in an effort to discover how to see, think and do differently with ease and flow. Once you’ve created a routine, it becomes much more natural to incorporate it into the day’s typical activities.

We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by busy surroundings. But being in the heart of a city, walking down a busy main street or travelling on a crowded tram or train should not be seen as obstacles to meditation.

In fact, those are golden opportunities. It’s possible to redirect our attention inwards towards the inner peace and tranquility that exists right in the heart of everything that’s going on. It’s a skill and a discipline that is developed and nurtured through meditation practice.

Putting it into practice – walking meditation


Next time you find yourself on a busy street, choose to
practice a walking meditation and you will discover that crowded places are equally advantageous to finding moments of stillness in the heart of all the action. Lift your eyes and softly gaze towards the horizon, or better still a building or some other landmark that is in the distance. Put your smartphone away and focus directly on the moment.

Then:

  • Walk purposefully and directly while maintaining your soft attention towards the landmark
  • Mentally observe yourself walking, remembering that important cognitive shift towards watching yourself walk; rather than saying to yourself ‘I am walking’, say ‘this is simply walking down the street’
  • With practice, we see and feel the body walking – eventually it seems to do it all by itself

The more you practice this type of meditation, the easier it begins to flow and no matter how busy the street is, you will make progress with ease. We are applying the insight and awareness gained through modern meditation practice into another daily event.

Crowded Places to Try Meditation
  • Practice a simple sitting meditation in your local park or town square
  • Find a sense of stillness at a sporting event; surely home to some of the loudest crowds? This will certainly be a challenging place to find some peace, but it is possible
  • Practice a standing meditation in the queue at the Post Office, or on your commute
  • Flying and meditation can also be a great combination, particularly if you are afraid of flying

Learning to get some peace in a crowded place can settle your mind and enable you to lead a happier, healthier life. If you’d like to learn more about modern meditation practice, sign-up to one of our programmes or get in touch to discuss how we can help you.

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