A New York Adjustment

Life’s All-Natural Sweetener: Rambling Mindfulness, Walking Meditation

Sammy Lamb
A place of peace
A place of peace
ImagesBG / CCO Public Domain

Have you tried meditating but found that sitting still for a half-hour was unrealistic, uncomfortable or unnatural? All three? Or, maybe you fell asleep before reaching transcendental cruising altitude. Me, too. It may be a “New York thing,” but so is the solution.

Walking meditation, what I call "rambling for inner piece,” is a nifty variation on one of the world’s greatest ideas, i.e., mediation, life’s all-natural sweetener. 

I cooked this up while wondering where my next spare minute was coming from. Rambling mindfulness is for people who have trouble finding time for sitting meditation but really care about finding the peaceful inner space where even New York can feel calm and mellow.

It's a hash you might want to fix up for yourself, a gentle blend of meditation with the hyperkinetic stew of urban life.

Getting There

Of course, I knew about meditation since I was teenager in search of “something else” and even took a whack at it a few times.

I remember coming up out of my first try at self-hypnosis to find my hand, as visualized, floating over my head, weightless as a balloon. Fascinating, but what the hell was I supposed to do with that?

Shaking Loose from Dull Habits

After reading Wayne Dyer's  Meditations for Manifesting, it finally occurred to me that I might get some benefits from taking meditation as seriously as he did. 

The trouble was, when would I be consistently able to make the time in my already jam-packed New York City day to sit still for even a quarter of an hour?

(If you don't live in New York, this concern might seem puzzling; if you do live in New York, it's more likely to be, "Yeah, well, we have that.")

At about the same time, I made my way through the revelations of Mark Thornton's  Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy, a great book that teaches meditating in shorter increments, even a minute or two at a time, over the course of the day, to reach your quota.

Take the opportunity to return to deep breathing, Thornton suggests, while standing on a corner, waiting for the light to change and probably dodging tourists in the season. 

Thornton emphasized maintaining a consistent practice of deep breathing and how taking meditation moments reinforced it.

A half-hour's meditation could be spread through the day, instead of snatched all at once out of from an ever-demanding schedule, and be just as effective.

After hearing Mark Thornton's ideas, I just started winging the rambling mindfulness thing, making it up to suit myself as I went along. 

Getting Into The Swing of Mindful, Walking Meditations

I agree with the idea, "You get what you think about," in Dr. Dyer's words. What gets your attention, good or bad, expands in your mind. 

I combined my commitment to abundance-thinking with my desire for inner peace and put them together in meditation.

Like I said, a hash.

Everything you do enhances when you go into it with appreciation and a mission, and this mixed marriage seemed perfect in my city of constant compromise.

To clarify about abundance-thinking, I certainly had money in the mix — this is New York, after all — but abundance is as much about friendships, creativity, travel and art as it is the stuff that makes your wallet hard to close once you have the right amount.

Abundance is a many-sided jewel. You don't want to get hung up on just one angle. 

My actual mantra, one of them anyway, was "abundance in life." The other was "ah-na," which was a lot less clunky and had the value of being completely original. 

Fortunately, it's the mindset, not the words that matter, so both mantras tended to set me into a good vibe.

I first got myself used to breathing deep and rhythmically while repeating the abundance mantra of the day while I was walking to work. This made me so upbeat and so much at ease, even the subway couldn't distress me.

I enjoyed my rambling walking meditation so much, I started a habit of repeating the words wherever I happened to be. 

A frequent location was on the short walk from my office building near Wall Street to my subway stop, an interval in which I let the accumulated detritus of the work day rinse off me like cat hairs and dust.

I'm sure it would work fine in a traffic jam or when dodging eighteen wheelers on the interstate. Just breathe. Repeat your mellowing mantra. Get into that honeyed space.

Spiritual Meditation Rambling for Inner Peace

Taking It Further

My job then required my visiting customers at their offices and, consequently, reasonable periods of time sitting in waiting rooms or lounges. No better time to meditate with purpose. 

I also found it effective to jump into the practice whenever I felt on edge, not a rare condition in the rush of New York City.

I'm a busy guy with more commitments and interests than I sometimes think I can handle with two lifetimes. I have a pair of disconnected careers, an active marriage, two cats and inspirations that blossom daily.

Exhaustion and frustration are always waiting at the door like persistent relatives, and I can tell you that my practice of rambling for inner peace produced a feeling like honey saturating my life as I ignored their pointless knocking.

Unexpected Results

Things smoothed and mellowed. 

More important and more of a revelation, the abundance came looking for me, drawn by something about that inner peace. 

My income jumped while my effort and hours of work lessened. Sometimes, I believed I was the only well-rested person in Manhattan.

Quickly, I accumulated more friends than ever before, and my relationships were more complex and unmasked. 

My awareness of the subtleties in nature and communication expanded. My ideas grew more fertile and continue to do so.

I realized that, like formalities in most areas, the "right way" is often a scaffolding that helps beginners. 

Veterans improvise and innovate, and this philosophical concept has helped me accept many personal eccentricities as valuable.

If you prefer genuine, original experience, those that are singular to you alone, you are almost always better off letting your imagination or intuition guide you into a variation, your own special, transcendental hash. 

You put your stamp on contentment, in your own way, having extended your own branch from the traditional tree.

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