From the perspective of a modern spirit, immersed in overwhelming noise, general overstimulation of the senses, and the growing pain of the world, escape from this agonizing cacophony has become the ultimate advantage.
And many perceive meditation as a way to escape, deep into the peaceful consciousness of their existence, where the ripple effect of the world’s troubles is subdued, and they can calmly enjoy the serene surface of their inner reflection.
However, meditation serves a purpose on the opposite end of the spectrum. It aims to create a peaceful enough environment within your being in order to face the chaos. Meditation is not an escape, it is the only healing entrance into the deepest wounds of our collective existence. And it serves to give you an oasis amidst turmoil, even in the heart of urban lifestyle, and help you transcend the various conditions in which you may find yourself.
Our layers of consciousness
When we are in a hurry to the office, waiting in line in the bank, in a crowded public bus rushing through the traffic jam as much as possible, we are surrounded by the clamor of people, machines and our own thoughts. Everything feels as if we’re overpowered by sensations, flooded with perceptions that are disguised by our own emotions towards them.
Some would say that meditation is impossible in those circumstances. We know it’s necessary.
Still deeper in the undisturbed essence of your being is the clarity of unencumbered perception. A view that is not guided by your personal anguish, impatience or anxiety of such commotion. Tapping into that deeper, most profound awareness is the first prerequisite of meditation, not in spite of your surroundings, but precisely because of them. Silence becomes the most prominent in the middle of chaos.
If you free yourself of expectations, and focus on pure facts, repetitive facts, disengaging from the self-centered mind we constantly occupy, you can let go of the feeling that you are overwhelmed and suffocated by the crowd and the noise of the city.
The shift of focus
We are all different, and yet the same when it comes to struggling with distractions. From noisy car alarms, honking, yelling, to the constant pulsating of our footsteps in the streets, it’s difficult to let go of these superficial layers and remain anchored into the present, unbiased, unaffected.
For some, it’s enough to find a solitary corner of the bus and focus on the rhythm of the street while repetitively touching their rosary and using visualization. For others, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones with soothing sounds of nature or music serves as the ultimate healing tool for a mind bruised with distractions. Ultimately, all of these methods serve the same purpose – focusing your mind on perceiving rather than feeling.
In addition to understanding and observing the natural pattern of your breath, and slowly clearing your hectic thoughts, you can use the pace of the city to your advantage. Every metropolis has its own heartbeat, and every soul you pass by in the street contributes to this timeless rhythm – use it to shift your focus.
Our survival instincts are deeply rooted in our being, and affect our daily conduct towards others, as well as ourselves. We’ve naturally become the central point of our universe, perceiving the importance and value of everything through the prism of “I, me, myself”. Yet, this is a very limited insight into the world, and a very self-centered way of attributing values, and meditation gives us a mindset that surpasses these primal, ego-oriented perceptions.
It is precisely when you are surrounded by others, waiting for the green light, or stuck in a stuffy tram, that you have the opportunity to shift your pivotal point of perception onto those of around you. When you let go of those suffocating thoughts “I hate this commute”, “I cannot bear this heat”, “Why does this always happen to me?” – you realize that you are not, and never have been, alone.
True meditation, the essence of inner harmony, can never rely only on self-gratification, the illusion of control, and that famous desire to escape. Meditation, through practice of continual mindful existence, through visualization, and growing awareness of yourself and others, embraces the reality of chaos, it thrives in it. When you let go of searching for literal, physical silence, and create it within, you will have unleashed the extraordinary potential that already resides in you.