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S in the City

A Meditators Day in the City

I set my alarm for 7am hoping that'll give me a good 1/2 hour to practice before work. But I don't roll out of bed till 8:45, and barely have time to get dressed before running out the door. I resolve once again to "catch up" on my meditation tonight.

I attempt to bring presence to my speed-walk to the subway, which works until I descend into the hot windy tunnel to catch the F train. The homeless guy slumped over a bench stares at me and I try to meet his gaze, because I don't want to pretend he doesn't exist. I hope my look conveys empathy but it probably just looks like a bitchy New Yorker glare.

To tune out my thoughts I pull out my ipod and turn on Pema Chodron's audio collection as I squeeze into the train. By the time I’ve actually untangled my headphone wires we're at 14th street and pouring out onto the New York city sidewalks. I merge in with the pedestrian traffic and walk to my building. Pema is finally playing and I feel a greater sense of presence as I walk.



I stop at El Carrito Rojo, the red taco truck, for my morning coffee. The Mexican guys in there are awesome. No Hola, no chit chat. They pour me a coffee, I hand them a buck. Each day I am grateful for that 5 minutes extra of silence they give me before I launch into my workday for the next 10 hours.

There is a line of people waiting at the elevators, which are always slow. We crush in, 10 to a car that holds 8. I get off at my floor and breathe in a lungful of sawdust - they are renovating the offices next door. I wipe down the dust on my desk and settle down to drink my coffee and start my work for the day.

I am already exhausted.

As my day goes by, I zoom around like a hi-speed version of myself. I shuttle between edit rooms, writing, sifting through footage, attending story meetings and trying to weave together a coherent episode of reality television out of unrelated scenes.

During my day, I try and find a few minutes here and there to take mini breaks as Erric Solomon had recommended in his blog post earlier this year. These breaks get less and less frequent as the day goes by.

It turns into another late evening and as the clock ticks past 7, and then 8pm, I start to get frustrated at the lack of balance in my life. My eyes itch. My back is stiff and my shoulders hurt. I inhale massive quantities of cheese puffs.

I think back to the past 9 months during which I’d set up a consistent daily practice. I would wake up and meditate for 30 minutes a day. I’d get time to write in my journal and have a cup of tea at home. I’d leave work by 7.30pm and meet friends for wine and ceviche. It might not have been the perfect life but it felt balanced.

Confusion overwhelms me as I ask myself what I am doing here and why. If this is what it takes to be successful in New York, should I just toss it all up now? Move to rustic Italy and live off the land? I struggle against this confusion, trying to talk myself off the ledge and back to stable ground.

I know that times of turmoil are rich for spiritual growth. This is when I can let go, this is where transformation occurs. We are taught to “lean into the sharp points.” But I don't want to hear it. I just want to feel less tired, more inspired. Most of all, I want my old cheerful self back.

The only saving grace is that I get along with my editor and we laugh about how miserable we are as our network deadline approaches and our show gets torn to pieces daily.

As I walk into my apartment later that night a sweet smell greets me: I forgot to blow out my scented candle before leaving. I’m relieved that the studio has not burned down and pleasantly taken over by the perfume of cyclamen and moss.

Oprah’s Life Class is on my DVR and I settle down to watch. Her guest, Jim Carrey, talks about how he visualized himself to success. Oprah asks us to examine where our beliefs are holding us back from living the life we deserve.

I think that’s a great idea and start to think about it. This lasts all of 2 minutes, before my brain starts hurting and I give up. I glance guiltily at my altar with the meditation cushion smiling up at me hopefully, then I step over it and fall into bed.