I’m sitting in a hot, stalled subway at Times Square. My phone has no service, yet there isn’t a single person who isn’t staring at their phone. I look down at my phone again….perhaps service is back? Nope. No service. The conductor shouts over a muffled speaker: “We are experiencing delays due to a malfunction at 110th street.” There’s a baby crying across from me. A few seats down, a heightened argument about a text message is ensuing between a couple. I scan the subway car, but there is no one to make eye contact with. Here sits a group of strangers. Stopped in the subway. The baby crying. The couple arguing. The strangers staring at their phones; phones without service. Again, the conductor declares, “We are experiencing delays due to a malfunction at 110th street.”
The woman next to me turns and says, “Those stupid phones, always causing trouble.” Shocked by her statement, I smiled. She smiled widely back at me, exposing her missing front teeth. I learned that she didn’t own a phone and that she lived “here and there”. With the rise of my next breath the subway doors opened. She stood up, smiled at me and wished me a wonderful day. Just like that, two strangers extended love and compassion in a stalled subway car.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of keeping up with the pace of technology and life, our bodies push through subway doors and we often miss the people we pass and the experiences we confront. It’s no easy feat to be mindful New Yorkers. It is possible though to be more mindful. Here are some techniques to carry you throughout the day and into a restful and restorative evening. (Disclaimer: these techniques all require you to take a break from technology!)
- When you feel stress creeping up, just pause and breathe.
Let’s face it, this might happen every five minutes and that is perfectly fine. Gear up to practice this technique frequently. Bring your hand to the body part where you feel anxiety building. Breathe in and out; in and out. Focus on your out breaths. Count each out breath. Breathe in, breathe out, count 1…then breathe in, breathe out, count 2, and so on. This will help to elongate the space between each breath and calm your nervous system. Continue the cycle for about 10 breaths.
- Repeat a mantra (silently if necessary) that resonates with you.
While maintaining your breathing practice, repeat your mantra with intention. At a loss for mantras? Here are a few that work wonders for me: “I am centered”; “I’m in my truth”; “I’m safe. I’m here.” If you listen closely enough to your inner voice, a mantra might come organically to you!
- Take a self-care hour after a day of hustling through NYC.
Instead of rushing to an expensive cocktail bar, treat yourself to a decent candle. (My favorite candle is Tocca’s Rosemary Pine – it is well worth the treat!) When you get home, put on pretty lingerie or comfy sweats, whichever you prefer to pamper yourself … this is just for you! Now it’s time to geek out to whatever gets your creativity flowing. Writing? Drawing? Singing? Simply allow yourself the space to express. You might be surprised with the masterpiece you create!
- When it’s time to “turn off” your brain (which is impossible) and sleep, turn off your phone and turn on a guided meditation.
If you are one of the lucky who fall asleep easily, I envy you! For those of you, like me, who struggle with resting at night, turn to a guided meditation. A great starting point that I recommend is Positive Magazine’s meditations on YouTube. If you feel fancy, download a meditation app on your phone (just make sure your phone is on airplane mode). You can try the meditation apps Calm or Buddhify, and also browse apps that spark your calm!
More tips on living mindfully in NYC to come! Oh, and don’t forget to turn to a person on the subway and smile, maybe even say hello.