In the city I’m staying a few streets away from Penn Station – one of the busiest, most densely populated areas. Any time of day or night, there is a continuous roar of activity, sirens and hydraulic drills. Even with the windows closed, the buildings emit a subtle hum that acts like a constant drip on the mind.
In this environment it becomes all the more urgent to try and protect your consciousness; to nourish those practices that keep you sane. I’m really not a city girl, but I appreciate the challenge to strengthen natural areas of weakness that feel even more strain in such an intense environment.
It’s become habitual to chant to myself as I walk in the streets. I visualize it as armour, or a vast overcoat that I wear as I enter the mayhem. It does help. I feel so protected in every situation. Getting up early and seeing the first rays of sun helps too – bringing timelessness and a sense of perspective on the frenetic rush to come.
Sometimes though, it’s all too much and I just have to imagine myself somewhere else, like the other day – walking through Times Square. I looked up at the square of blue sky and saw the buildings melt away – the square expanding to the edges of the horizon. I felt the wind blow stronger, over waves of grass, carrying the green tang of the trees.
There’s ways of creating sacred space anywhere if you want to.