Photo by Be Time
I've meditated maybe four times in my life: once on a couch in therapy, once on a bench in Central Park, once in bed trying to sleep. I'm one of those people who's been saying "I should really try meditation" for years. And maybe I will, after meditating for the fourth time in my life, on a bus in downtown Manhattan. I haven't learned anything that will be new to experienced meditators, but if you're another of those "I should try" people, read on.
Be Time is a new meditation studio housed in a specially fitted bus, which sets up in a different New York City neighbourhood each day. For $20 they offer a half-hour guided meditation session on a theme like creativity, presence, or "intention." In our session, we let a golden light fill our bodies head to toe, relaxing us throughout. (We also did a trippy thing where we rubbed our hands together and imagined them magnetizing each other. Maybe less meditative and more slumber-party body trick, but whatever, it was fun.)
Participants sit on the tuffet-like zafu pictured above, and drape weighted blankets on their lap - a pretty typical setup, from what I gather. If, like me, you learn that you can't comfortably sit cross-legged without back support, you can ask for a chair. And if, like me, your mind wanders easily, you'll be glad for the verbal guidance.
To someone (me) who's never joined a gym or paid for a class, $20 feels like a lot for a half-hour sit. But the real benefit is taking everything you've learned - the techniques of the particular teacher, the memory of a particularly pleasant session - and applying them when you meditate on your own. Of course not everyone can use this NYC meditation bus, but local classes are everywhere and easy to sign up to online.
If you want to meditate but never get around to it, or if you've fallen out of the habit, even if you think guided meditation is a waste of time and money, schedule just one session at your nearest meditation studio or gym. Pay up front if you can. You'll be more likely to actually show up and do the work — and with a teacher in the room, you'll be more likely to stick to the session.
Then, to keep yourself actually meditating at home, set a rule: Every week that you don't meditate at home, you need to go to guided meditation. If you can, schedule a few sessions in advance, which you can cancel if you manage to meditate at home first. (Leave enough time that you're not screwing the studio.)
The idea is to build a guardrail against dropping your meditation entirely. As much as you can without being a dick, schedule cancellable sessions out ahead of time. Any week that you fail your personal goal - meditating at home every day, twice a week, whatever - you go to the guided session. It's not punishment, it's just a brush-up. But if the cost and time commitment are adding up, that's your motivation to meditate more at home. After all, the long-term goal should be doing this on your own, whether or not you've caught the bus.