Every moment of life is an opportunity to be awake and present – a being with reality as it unfolds. Walking the streets of New York City is just such an opportunity. We are surrounded by human beings showing up in every conceivable state of mind, from extreme stress, impatience and overwhelm, to joyous, curious and open. This is fertile ground for practice.
Whether you are walking on the street or riding on a bus or in a subway car, begin by connecting with your breath. Deepen your inhale, and release whatever you have been holding, consciously or unconsciously, in mind, heart or body with your exhale. Continue to breathe deeply, as you come into your body, touching in to the three centers of head, chest and belly. Meet whatever is there with compassion, letting go of any judgment.
Now open your eyes, if they have been closed, and open your ears, and turn your attention and senses to what is around you. Look, and see, hear, feel what is around you. People of every description. People absorbed, bored, impatient, anxious, tuned in, tuned out, engaging, in pain, laughing, lost, loving, and the list goes on. Meet each person you see with compassion, letting go of any judgment. Allow yourself to be affected by the people you see, as if everyone of them matters. Because they do. Every one.
Everything we do matters. The great Persian poet, Hafiz, says, “Now is the time to know that all you do is sacred.” The ignition of our awareness on the street, in the subway, is a gift that we can offer ourselves and the collective, recalling us to our deeper nature of compassion and unconditional love. This is the gift we all yearn for, which we all have the capacity to offer – to ourselves and to each other. Every moment is an opportunity for practice. Let us remember and be awake on the streets of NYC.