Meditation in the Big Noise: Find Your Inner Peace in New York City

Buddhist street meditation sessions in busy areas of New York are becoming popular among New Yorkers, proving meditation can be done anywhere.

While traditional Christian churches like the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church are trying to save their institutions from possible extinction, Buddhism is on an entirely different mission- reaching out to the growing number of Americans who are now exploring Eastern spiritual traditions rather than traditional Western institutional religions.

Meditation in the Big Noise: Find Your Inner Peace in New York City[/tweetthis]

Buddhist Insights is a Buddhist non-profit organization that aims to give access to core Buddhist teaching by connecting lay-people with Buddhist monks and nuns. They have launched a campaign in which New Yorkers are encouraged to meditate in surprising spots in the city such as street corners and subway stations.

Buddhist Insights aims to clear up myths people have about meditation and peace. People believe that to achieve peace they have to go far away from the busy, bustling city and escape to a deep forest retreat. However, the fact is that peace is an inner resource, and can be found even during busy everyday life.

To counter this view, Buddhist Insights founders Bhante Suddhaso and Giovanna Maselli have started street meditation sessions which they call “street retreats.”  When “street retreats” began, it started out as a fun new way of approaching Buddhist meditation practices. However, the sight of people meditating peacefully in the busy areas of New York City quickly attracted the attention of a lot of people.

Maselli says their campaign has been successful in driving home the fact that meditation can happen anywhere. Buddhist Insights also aims at showing people that meditation is not just something that highly advanced Buddhist monks engage in. Maselli herself was once a seeker and could not find the right teacher to help her on the path. She collaborated with Suddhaso to start the organization, which held its first class in January.

Buddhist Insights offers free weekly classes to people and brings the traditional teachings of the Buddha alive through their discussions. Their classes have been held in building lobbies, art galleries, beaches, sidewalks, and parks, just to name a few.

Suddhaso explains, “It’s about establishing the attitude of meditating anywhere and making friends with your environment. Often, when we’re meditating and there’s noise outside, we think, ‘Oh, I could meditate if not for that noise.’ The problem isn’t the noise. What’s disturbing your meditation is your attitude toward the noise. The noise is just noise. So, we’re establishing the attitude of focusing on the present moment and using it as your laboratory for investigating the mind. That’s something you can do anywhere, with any conditions.”


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