Let’s face it – meditating can be a challenge for many, even in the best of circumstances. The calm in the storm is an elusive thing, even when you’re pausing in your own personal space. Tuning out the noise – whether it’s a noisy neighbour or a particularly loquacious pigeon – is no easy task. Which makes practicing meditation in an unusual or busy place seem next to impossible. What hope do you have finding your centre in the hustle and bustle of a busy street corner, of the cramped confines of a train car?
Luckily, Anthony Demby and Lauren Bille of the Medi Club are here to help. Here, the two explain why it can be difficult to meditate outside of your comfort zone, how to keep out the noise and find calm in uncomfortable places.
Take a Class
If you’re trying meditation for the first time, especially in foreign environments. you don't have to go it alone. Go to a meditation class, or ask someone who’s proficient in meditation for suggestions. “I'd say ask people who meditate a lot what they do to calm down in a time of stress or when they're not in their practice,” suggests Bille. Getting advice from seasoned meditators will give you more tools take on any scenario.
One of the biggest obstacles to meditation, no matter the location, is the need for control. “I think people want to control their environments, and they feel like any kind of noise can be a distraction, but noise is a part of life. It's not going to change,” says Demby. If you’re taking your practice into the real world, be prepared for distractions and instead of fighting them, accept that they will be part of your meditation. Both Bille and Demby agree that learning to adapt to new situations is a good thing. Dealing with challenging environments will help prepare you for unexpected moemnts in your real life, giving you the ability to cope and perform when things might not be going your way.
Sit, Breathe, Repeat
Whether it’s meditation every lunch hour, finding a park bench that becomes yours (if only for 30 minutes at a time) or using regular techniques like counting down, creating a pattern helps create consistency. “Anything with normalcy makes it stick. If you commit to a time, saying, ‘Between 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning, I'm going to do this,’ you'll eventually get to a rhythm and you'll keep doing it,” says Demby. So if you choose to practice on your commute, commit to practicing on your commute, even if that means being surrounded by grumpy commuters, blaring horns and mysterious smells.
Meditate Anywhere. Rep it Out.
Bille is an advocate for using meditation wherever, whenever: “I think you can do it at any time, wherever you want. For me, you do the practice so that you can access [the ability to meditate] at any time – you do the practice so that you can live more often in that dimension of the present.” So if you’re someone who’s just starting with meditation, build up your reps by practicing in the quiet of your own space so that you’re prepared when you venture out into the unknown. Then start meditating – waiting in line for coffee, during a quick recharge at work, etc. Do your thing.
Do What Works for You
In order to be committed to meditation, you have to do what makes you feel comfortable. If you’re constantly fighting against your practice, chances are you’re not going to keep it up. “Choose what works for you. An app can help. There's tons of stuff you can do.” Whatever it is, make your practice your own and you’ll be rewarded. It can be challenging to meditate regularly, so the more barriers you consciously remove, the better. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul – progress doesn’t happen overnight. “People, they want the benefits of meditation right now,” says Demby, “and often that doesn't happen. It happens when you do it all the time.” Find something you like, keep doing it and you’ll be rewarded.
Kit and Ace is teaming with the Medi Club to bring you the Big Quiet at One World Observatory on March 19. Find out more here.