Friday, August 12, 2011

the space between

I'm not quoting a Dave Matthews song here but rather a calming meditation technique I recently learned.

I partook in a lovely workshop on stress management a few weeks ago and was surprised at how much I've been able to use the knowledge. The workshop was 2 hours, but the takeaway could be boiled down into the following easy four step meditation to alleviate stress:

1. deep breath
2. relax muscles and be mindful of tension
3. improve posture
4. notice the open space around

The fourth step, noticing the open space around oneself, is what's most relevant to city life, though there may be the least of it here. There's something about open space that calms me, with notable exceptions of corn fields and urban sprawl. Here in nyc, we're constantly barraged by people, tourists and residents alike, and it's hard to not feel constricted. But in almost every situation, the amount of open space vastly overwhelms anything physical. Maybe it's too simplistic, but open space represents possibility in my mind. If I can change my method of perception to one that fixates on possibility, why not?

lesson #44: repeat the above four steps in stressful moments. When strapped for time, just take in your surroundings and every bit of space that encircles you.

A perfect use of the 4 step method was at an outdoor concert at prospect park. While show-goers surrounded me, I was mesmerized by the clear sky above, music reverberating off my chest and the ground, and stopped worrying about anything else. When in doubt, look above! Just don't count on nature to relieve stress by trying to see any birds.