Like many of you, I think, I meditated in New York City today; but my location was mostly underground, in the train tunnel entering the city and then below Penn Station, during the layover on the Amtrak ride from New Haven back to Washington DC.
I mostly focused on sounds, but also some on my breath, and finished up with metta. I also incorporated a technique, which I learned from Pat Coffey, in which you consciously relax your body whenever you become aware that you are very distracted. And boy was I distracted! I think I consciously recovered from distraction about 20 times in my half hour of meditating.
I had at least four sources of distraction. First, I was still donning a toughened stance following the “academic combat” at the workshop I just attended. Second, it was noisy. Upon meditating, I realized that Amtrak’s “Quiet Car” is not quiet! I noticed the ventilation, rattling windows, vibrating and breaking wheels, doors opening and letting in a push of air and then shutting, coughing, a woman messing with a plastic bag for way too long, the conductor’s hole punch, someone ripping paper, a beeping sound. It was so exhausting listening to sounds that I switched to focusing on my breath partway through. But, third, paying attention to my body made me aware how stiff and tired I was from all this sitting and traveling the last couple days.
Finally, knowing that I was going to blog was itself a distraction. I thought about how to express this or that experience. A lot of words arose in my mind.
But now that I’m done, I feel more relaxed. That emotional armor I was wearing has softened. I’m noticed the landscape more. I’m looking forward to playing with my kids when I return.
So it was a very distracted period of sitting today. But the effort was there. It was a start.