Many traditions and philosophies encourage daily meditation as one key to a fully-realized life. However, many (if not most) people are intimidated by the idea of sitting quiet, alone. Moreover, in the time-impoverished world we live in, it easy to give in the belief that “there just isn’t time to meditate.”
While I attend meditation groups and try to meditate regularly at home, I find that turning a substantial walk through the city as a practical, easy form of the practice. So, when I am in my “right mind”—or more accurately, when I want to get into my “right mind” I will get up early and walk the 2 miles to my office, or the reverse trip at the end of the day. Even though it is a battle of self-will, I find that I feel better when I arrive at my destination.
Utilizing walking as a form of meditation has gained popularity in today’s culture and is embraced by traditions from Christianity and Buddhism. In fact, since about 1000 AD, many cathedrals included labyrinths on cathedral floors. One theory is that clerics would walk the labyrinth as a ritual Easter dance. Many contemporary Christians routinely walk a labyrinth in a house of worship, to calm the mind and open the heart.
The pattern of the labyrinth is uniform and simple, facilitating a meditative state, with minimal visual distraction. While this is absolutely not the case while strolling in one of America’s most frenetic cities, there is still a possibility to turn the volume down on distracting thoughts. At the very least, the walk allows me to appreciate simple things about the City that I often overlook when I am hurried. Tonight I walked home at 6 p.m., when the city was already dark. As I started my walk I noticed the fantastic St. Patrick’s Cathedral beautifully bathed in light. As I always do, I pulled out my camera. There I thought….”Let me appreciate the special beauty of NYC lights in the evening.” And so I did.