Meditation teachers use the analogy of the mountain to describe the experience of solidity and groundedness we strive for in meditation. To help with this, we go on retreats removed from civilization to reduce distractions. Well, in the city, there aren’t many mountains to remind us of our sturdiness. The sheer speed and rhythm, all of the moving things, the number of people, are enough to make us feel like less like a mountain and more like a tumbleweed.
Often the best we can do when stressed or overwhelmed is to retreat to the relative comfort of home, or the office, or even the restroom. When I’m feeling particularly tumbleweedy and tossed around by my active brain, often the best I can do is remember to pay attention to my body, listen to it, not fight the experience. The one thing that we always have is the power of attention and awareness, at all times in the present moment. Here are some steps to solidity when you’re on the go in the city:
- While standing on line or waiting for the walk signal, take a moment or two to stand still on the sidewalk.
- Turn your attention inward.
- Take slow, deep breaths (not if you’re behind a bus of course).
- Pay attention to the bottoms of your feet as they are supported by ground.
- Notice the sounds, sights, and smells of the lively city around you.
- Listen to your mind, perhaps feeling embarrassed that you are standing still while no one else is.
- Congratulations! You have brought the mountain to the meditator.