Let’s face it, meditating in a big, noisy city like London isn’t easy. Far from reaching a state of inner peace, meditation can leave you irritated when the surrounds of an ‘un-zen’ environment seep in. So how do you conquer it and find that sought-after inner peace? Read on for Holiday Phillips’ – the guru behind Breathe & Stop – advice…
Here’s the thing. Often when we think about ‘finding inner peace’ we focus way too much on our external environment. We wait until the next holiday to finally relax, for example, or we buy into the idea that without an expensive retreat in the Himalayas, zen-ing out isn’t possible.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, the perfect environment just doesn’t exist. And secondly, even if you can create the perfect environment, what are you actually accomplishing? It’s a lot easier to forget about your worries when you’re sitting on a beach with a Pina Colada and no emails than it is in the middle of a packed tube when you’ve just had a dressing down from your boss. By searching for the ‘perfect environment’ we tend to remove ourselves from the contexts where meditation is actually needed in the first place.
Part of the solution? Instead of seeing our loud, busy city as an obstacle to meditation we need to see it as a gift. We need to embrace the noise, dive head first into the chaos and let this crazy city be our meditation mat.
5 Ways to Meditate in the City
1. Focus on one sound. Pick one sound to tune in: the rumble of cars; the murmur of voices; the sound of the wind. It’s really hard to focus on more than one thing at once, so focussing your mind on a sound will bring the focus away from your thoughts and calm your mind.
2. Load a five minute guided meditation onto your phone. Next time you are waiting to meet a friend, pop your headphones in and steal a moment of calm. Get one here.
3. Take the escalator. A standard escalator gives you time for 10 deep breaths – tune in to your breathing and watch your thoughts float away.
4. Don’t be afraid to shut your eyes. No one on the tube is looking at you and second of all they don’t care.
5. Put away your phone (when you’re not using it to meditate!). Next time you have a short walk, resist the urge to whip out your phone and instead walk in silence focussing on the feeling of your feet on the ground. Focussing on your body takes the focus away from your thoughts, bringing more peace to your mind.