Every day we find ourselves in different environments. Some of these environments are unique, some are ordinary. We could be on vacation, at home, at the office, commuting through the city...all of these present moments of peace, distractions, stress, fun, fear and so much more. These special moments present an opportunity to focus on all kinds of different sounds, images or feelings, but it’s completely up to you to allow yourself to concentrate and focus your mind.
From the subway to the dentist to the top of a cruise ship, there’s always a place to meditate and escape into an inner state of awareness and quiet our minds. As you may know, a common goal many yogis share is to meditate often and intensify personal and spiritual growth.
We figured with all that meditating, people must be tuning in at some pretty unique and interesting places! So, we asked yogis, meditation experts and experienced adventurers to share their unique and inspiring experiences about where they’ve meditated.
Here’s what they said.
At a Funeral
Whether it’s in my backyard garden at sunrise, walking through a busy parking lot to work, or sitting in my car waiting to pick up my kids from school—even the most seemingly mundane moments can reveal something sacred. It continually amazes me how often exactly where I am carries the energetic qualities I need to experience at that time.
For me, the most insightful teaching of this came in the moments after my father’s funeral last year. Sitting quietly, smelling the wafts of fire and incense from the Hindu rituals; seeing my father’s body dressed and adorned for cremation; tasting my tears; hearing family members crying as grandchildren innocently played; feeling into the heaviness in my body as well as the simultaneous sadness and outpouring of love from our entire community—it transformed my grief in a way I couldn’t have imagined that day.
On the Subway
One of the most unique places that I have meditated is on the subway. I put headphones in with some relaxing music and I close my eyes and repeat a mantra to myself. It leaves me feeling refreshed, and with a sense of peace and calm.
I have also meditated at the Temple of the Divine Mother in the Himalayas after hiking for eight hours. It’s a beautiful overlook that always makes me cry with the emotions of looking over the Himalayas. It’s a place that truly makes me feel at home.
-Beth Shaw, CEO and Founder of YogaFit
(To give this a try with your own mantra, learn the Makings of a Mantra: The Basics of Sanskrit's Sacred Syllables & How to Choose Yours.)
On Top of a Cruise Ship
The most interesting place I've meditated was on top of an open air deck on a moving Viking River Cruise Ship at sunrise. The river cruise experience is amazing, but being around so many people, like staff and other guests 24/7, can be a lot at times, so it was so nice just to have the morning to myself. To be still and meditating on a moving vessel was a unique experience, but ever so soothing with the soft splash of the water to the sides, and beautiful charming towns and natural open land on either side of the river bank.
-Melissa Okabe, yoga instructor of melissaoyoga.com
On a Sandy Stretch of Beach
While I’ve meditated in hotel rooms, on airplanes, at churches, in the woods and at Machu Picchu, the most inspiring place I’ve meditated is at an estuary in Mexico near where I offer a yoga retreat in the winter. During the rainy season, the river overflows, connecting with the ocean. But when I’m there, there’s a sandy stretch of beach with flowing water anchored from behind by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Getting to this spot is part of the meditation. Every mediation there feels like an opportunity to watch the miracle of life.
-Sharon of Practically Enlightened You
Where the Wild Things Are
The most interesting place was on a street full of bars during a weekend night. I saw it as the perfect meditation training field. I sat down and meditated for over 20 minutes with drunk people passing by; many came and asked me if I was OK!
-Fran, meditation coach of HackSelf.org
At the Dentist
One unusual place is while waiting at the dentist’s office. I find it’s an interesting practice of watching my thoughts ("What will people think of me if they see me sitting here with my eyes closed?"). It gives me the opportunity to let go of my concerns about what other people think and to simply be present. I even try to meditate while having my teeth cleaned, although it’s a challenge! I focus on the sounds and sensations and attempt to be fully in the moment with them. Both situations help me to move past my thoughts and find inner peace.
-Connie Habash, licensed marriage and family therapist, yoga teacher, interfaith minister of Awakening Self
While Waiting in Line
I will often rely on deep breathing and meditation when I’m in situations that are slightly uncomfortable in some way. For example, one day I was waiting in a very long line at a local deli. I had just taught a yoga class and I was waiting to place my lunch order. This deli usually is a loud place, but that day the decibel level seemed extra high—especially since I had just been surrounded by the peaceful environment of the yoga school. I could feel my body tensing up in response to the noisy chaos. I did what I teach my students to do: I began meditating on slow deep breathing. As I relaxed with body awareness, the jumble of sounds coalesced and became a bubbling brook in my imagination. The noise had transformed into a pleasant focus and I enjoyed meditating with it as I waited to place my order.
-Kim, yoga and meditation teacher of Joyful Being Transformations, LLC
1,000 Miles Above the Ground
I love meditating in unique places and out of the ordinary places as it truly deepens the practice. External stimuli is inevitable in life, so incorporating this into your mindfulness practice helps generate more acceptance, calm and awareness of your surroundings.
When I am traveling, I love to meditate on the plane and even try doing it on liftoff. When we are out of our ordinary routine, we tend to be less aware of what's going on around us. So, feeling the ground below my feet shake, feeling my body vibrate during takeoff and hearing the engines roar, helps to be present and to appreciate what it takes to fly. We may have just dealt with customs, or had to wake up earlier than normal; we may be traveling for work, or worrying about what we forgot for vacation. During liftoff, people are usually too in their own heads to be present to this truly amazing invention and our ability to fly wherever we want.
-Jayla, yoga instructor of Her Collectives
(More on the practice of mindfulness in The Art of Mindfulness Is a Masterpiece of Moments in the 'Now' (5 Tips on How).)
While Experiencing the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
The most unique place I've meditated is Bryce Canyon National Park—the canyon of thousands of colors. The positive healing energy of the place is literally off the charts.
I started one morning at the top of the canyon. As I kept walking down, it started to rain heavily. I kept walking, wet to the bones. It suddenly became dry and very hot. Then windy and chilly. The canyon was playing with me, testing my determination and perseverance.
I sat down on a rock bench, closed my eyes and began meditating. I tuned in to the whisper of the rocks, of the rock beings. Legends say the stones are alive and are able to read the thoughts of all people walking next to them. I imagine them to say, 'Look, here comes a gloomy person. We are trying to cheer him up, to transfer our positive energy to him, but his head is so filled with his gloomy thoughts that he is not able to hear us. You can hear us because you are listening to us. A rare person is listening to us. Yet we are missing the communication with people. Come here often, listen to us, ask us about anything you wish. And tell us what you’ve seen that is beautiful in your life of movement. You don’t even have to say a word. Simply imagine beautiful places in nature. The more beautiful your thoughts are, the happier we will become in our soul. Come here often and we’ll share our strong, powerful energy with you. We’ll share our secrets.
Afterwards, I took a hike on one of Bryce’s trails. I looked around paying attention to the unusual shapes of the rocks. I saw people and animals; giants and dwarfs; praying nuns and queens; castles and houses; mushrooms and candles. Suddenly, I saw the rocks that looked like the Tower Bridge in London. I could not believe my eyes. I was in a playground and enjoying the way the universe was playing with me. How did those stones experience me and my energy? I walked barefoot to feel the soul of the place. I slowed down to have conversations with everything that was around me. After the trip I realized that the whole world around me is alive.
-Milana Perepyolkina, author of Gypsy Energy Secrets
In a Tiny NYC Hotel Bathroom
The most interesting and UNinspiring place I've ever meditated in was in a tiny little hotel bathroom in New York City while traveling with family. I was in the middle of a 40-day Kundalini yoga meditation that included chanting. I had to remove myself from my room so as to not wake up the rest of my family. I placed a towel and pillow on the floor of this tiny bathroom, turned the lights out, closed my eyes and went within. While it wasn't the most inspiring location to meditate, it did help me realize it doesn't really matter where we are while meditating. We can always meditate anywhere. NO EXCUSES. All that counts is going within, tuning into our breath and letting go of outside conditions, situations and limitations.
-Veronica Parker, certified Kundalini yoga teacher and meditation coach of The Sacred Healing Playground
(Read on for 7 Inspiring Yogis You Need to Follow on Instagram Right Now.)