The urban lifestyle presents us with specific challenges: noise levels, busy traffic, the number of people we encounter every day, the amount of advertising we soak in from billboards and video walls, constantly having concrete under our feet…you name it.
“The best place to practice Zen is at a busy intersection” – Zen proverb
City life has so many layers. It can be thrilling, as well as exhausting. Walking down the busy street, being soaked in the traffic noise, biking the streets, lying down in the park, dancing to your favorite beats… all aspects of urban living offer a chance to practice mindfulness – a conscious, gentle and non-judgmental presence in the moment. It transforms urban life into a practice of compassion and co-being with your fellow citizens (and all beings in the city).
You do not need to go anywhere else to start being mindful. Start here and now. Daily life events – sitting, standing, working, resting – are an excellent ground for practice. Sure, from time to time it is beneficial to fully retreat and to dedicate ourselves exclusively to the practice of meditation and yoga. However, the purpose of such intense periods of practice is to nourish and strengthen our practice in daily life.
What tools are there along the path?
Body, breath and mind.
Yes, you already have all you need to live your fullest potential as a human being.
Opening to the sounds of the city:
Walking through the city, open your hearing to all of the sounds. Embrace all the sounds of the city at once. Let them flow through you while you stay silent from within.
What does it mean to stay silent from within?
Stop picking or choosing the sounds, being pulled toward them or away from them.
Stop liking and disliking what you hear.
Stop categorizing and analyzing…
Stop dealing with the sounds and just listen.
And whenever you notice your mind reacting to sounds and going into a narrative about them…let go of that narrative and come back to listening to the music of the city.
When you come home after such a walk and close the doors of your apartment, your inner space is silent.
The noise is not yours.
You are not the noise.