When people think of meditation and mindfulness, they often picture someone sitting on a scenic mountaintop or walking on a shaded path by a gently gurgling stream. Yet people who live in big, crowded, noisy cities can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness too.
Try these big-city meditation and mindfulness techniques:
Practice loving-kindness meditation while walking down the street.
As you walk down a busy street, be aware of the people around you. Think about how they are fundamentally the same beneath their surface traits of appearance, language, and culture. On a deep level, all people share the wish to be happy and to avoid suffering.
With that in mind, say these words silently to yourself as you walk, addressing them to all the people in your vicinity: May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. May you be peaceful.
Keep on repeating the words silently to yourself for a few minutes, sending the wishes out to the constantly changing group of people who appear in your line of sight as you continue walking down the street.
This exercise can open your heart and provide you with a profound sense of peace.
Notice nature wherever it appears.
Parts of the city may appear to be concrete jungles at first glance, but nature can be found everywhere. By becoming more mindful of how nature survives in human-made environments, and by seeking out signs of nature you may have ignored before, you can find hidden beauty wherever you are. As you go through your day, look for tufts of grass growing up out of cracks in the sidewalk, or flowerpots on a fire escape, or clouds scurrying across the narrow space between buildings.
The more you practice this exercise, the more you will notice the presence of nature, and that will transform the way you experience the city
Incorporate listening into your meditation.
If you believe you need total quiet to meditate, then the noises of the city can be distracting and annoying. However, you can turn this around and use the sounds to actually enhance your meditation.
Start your meditation by focusing on your breath, then expand your awareness outward to include everything you can hear -- while still maintaining an awareness of your breath.
By letting the noise become a focus of your meditation, instead of resisting and resenting it, you will gain the precious ability to meditate wherever you are.