It is the city that never sleeps, so finding the time and space for meditation in New York City is not easy. The Big Apple is a bustling metropolis which swells in population to over 25 million when commuters are factored in. An extra 50million tourists visit annually. With so many people crammed the city, space is a very unique and privileged luxury. But it can (and has!) been found.
I was born on a farm, and for fun and relaxation, I explored the hills and the remote and beautiful Atlantic coastline of Donegal. It was easy to find relaxation in Donegal. But then I moved to New York City, and suddenly, space and freedom were no longer available.
I once heard New York City described as being ‘an assault on your senses’. It is loud, over-crowded, and to make enough money to survive here you are looking at fourteen or fifteen hour days, when the American work ethic and slow commutes are taken into consideration. Lazy time in remote surroundings had become but a distant memory. So I had to adapt.
When I started writing about The Paris Method, step one was about Perspective. No matter where you are, or what your situation, just becoming aware that this is where you are right now, and making your best of it, brings some acceptance. And from there, your attitude can help you to make your best of it.
Using that principal, I have been able to meditate on crowded subway trains, in frenzied Starbucks coffee shops, and thankfully, a few locations off the beaten track. With just a little bit of effort, I have found some places which are ideal for meditation in New York City.
Central Park is an obvious choice when seeking relaxation and meditation in New York City. But to the unsuspecting first time visitor, the park can appear as busy as the crowded streets around it. At the southern end, the park bustles with street vendors, tourists, wedding parties, joggers, cyclists, horse-drawn carriages etc. I like to venture a little further north, to up around 74th to 76th street. Up here you can lose the crowds, and wander around The Lake, take the Ramble or enjoy the beauty of Bow Bridge, where so many proposals and weddings take place. There are many benches from where you can sit and enjoy the beauty and the views. I am drawn by the water, which is very relaxing. Ive always felt safe closing my eyes for meditation in this area, and have had many an enjoyable snooze here!
It is hard to believe that right in the middle of midtown Manhattan, between 5th and 6th avenues, over 9 acres of valuable real estate is set aside for a public park. It is one of the gems of New York City, The beautifully manicured lawns are ideal for picnics or sun worshipping, there are many activities to entertain you including juggling, chess, concerts, the New York Public Library, and the park even has its own bars and eateries. What I like most about this place is that it is right over a subway line (7 train, 5th avenue stop), it offers free wifi, and affords you the chance to sit and relax right in the middle of the city. While Central Park has its large park attractions, you need to walk quite a distance to see them. Bryant Park is more accessible, and the close proximity of the skyscrapers somehow enhances the feeling that this is a luxury right in the midst of such a crazily busy city. This is one of the more accessible places for meditation in New York City.
The Staten Island Ferry
Not an obvious choice of place to meditate, but just try it and see! If you have a valid subway ticket, the Staten Island Ferry is FREE! You get to cross the lower bay, getting a great view of the Statue of Liberty, and Lower Manhattan on your return. Simply avoid the rush hour commute, go out on deck, listen to the water gentle lapping the sides of the ferry, and you can feel as free as an albatross crossing the ocean. If you are looking for time and space for meditation in New York City, then look no further than on of the city’s most iconic and free attractions.
Top of The Empire State Building
Okay, so this one costs a little bit of money, but when looking for a place for meditation in New York City, it is literally ‘right up there’. Whether you are a romantic dreaming of Sleepless in Seattle, a daredevil for heights, or simply looking for a place to lean on the railings and watch the world go by far below, a trip to the top of the Empire State Building is highly recommended. I once stayed up here for over an hour – in the winter! – just watching the views and getting lost in how magical the city is. There is more than enough opportunity up here for quiet contemplation and meditation. It is a truly unique setting. Enjoy!
Federal Hall Steps
Options for meditation in New York are varied, and this one is certainly a little left field. But it has worked beautifully for me. Right on wall street, the steps leading up to Federal Hall, where the US government once sat, is a bench to meditate on quite like no other. You are looking across at the New York Stock Exchange, and watching all of the corporate and financial workers scurrying from A to B, while sitting peacefully right in the middle of it. No one actually goes up the steps to enter the building, so they ar left to tourists seeking a good photo of the stock exchange, or people looking for some quiet space in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle. I have sat here under the George Washington statue on many an evening, drifting off into blissful meditation. Who would ever have known that you could find meditation in New York City, right here in the heart of the frenzied financial district
Coney Island Boardwalk
You may need to take a half day to fully enjoy this area in search of meditation in New York City, but it is entirely worth it. The soothing and transformative sights and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, will afford you ample opportunity to relax. Just venture a little further along the boardwalk, away from the cafes, amusement rides and the people. Have a seat, and you will soon be miles away – from anywhere.
The High Line
Once a rugged, overgrown and unsightly abandoned railway line running down Manhattan’s west side, the High Line has been beautifully restored as a linear park. It offers an elevated garden running 1.5 miles from 12th street west to 34th on 11th avenue. Amid the flowers and water features, the coffee shops and the art installations, are numerous benches, offering some of the best places for meditation in New York City.
A Long Subway Ride
If all else fails, you can always ride the subway! For all of New York’s attractions, and as crowded as the commute can get on a busy line at rush hour, if you are looking for meditation in New York City, then all you really need to do is find a long line at a quiet time and it is almost bliss. The rocking and rolling of the cars on the rails will send you to a peaceful place. Just don’t fall asleep!