It’s no picnic starting your week surrounded by the piercing sound of jackhammers, yelling crossing guards and police sirens while crowded by strangers as you commute to work.
But this Monday was different: I found myself on a bus going, well, nowhere except into the depths of my mind.
While it sounds like a trippy version of “The Magic School Bus,” I was actually on a traveling meditation studio called Be Time that roves the city in search of weary New Yorkers.
On my way to The James Hotel in NoMad, where it parks for #MeditationMonday, I questioned if I could actually meditate and forget that I was in the middle of 29th Street. Could anything possibly drown out the pandemonium that is Manhattan?
When I stepped inside the bus that’s fully outfitted with aromatherapy, chromotherapy (color therapy) and even weighted blankets, it was quiet. All I could hear was a modest hum from the bus and the occasional honk, which was muffled by interior soundproofing. Even the cubbies and the bus door closed quietly.
Erica Sergott, the instructor for the day, began the “Be Creative” class, which is meant to enhance creative problem solving and help participants relax and restore.
Sergott guided me through visualizations of my breath as lapping waves and my mind as a “velvety night sky” using her hypnotizing voice, which is not far off from the calming vibration of a gong.
Yes, I could hear some honks and some trucks switching into gear nearby, but I was far more focused on the sound of music, Sergott’s tone and even the chirping of recorded birds.
This was probably the most Manhattan-y thing I’ve done in my life.
I asked Sergott why Be Time has chosen to open Mondays up to midtown workers.
“I know when I worked in the corporate sector, I lived for the weekends and I didn’t really live in the many moments of my life,” she said. “Monday is a loaded day for many people and this allows them to set an intention for the day, which could shift their whole experience of the week. It’s really about being present in your daily life.”
She’s right — we don’t need that noise. Taking the time out even 15 minutes during the day to slow down our breathing and just be in silence is beneficial. Who wouldn’t want to lower their blood pressure, reduce stress and improve concentration — all of which meditation promises to do.
Plus, having some classes as short as 15 minutes (the “quick reset”) really opens a new possibility for stress relief for those who can’t get away from their offices for long.
Be Time also has compassion-focused classes (“Be Love”) and, starting this week, a “sound bath,” which uses vibrations and frequencies to help calm and heal the mind.
When the bus isn’t at The James, it can be found at Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, DUMBO, Union Square, and Midtown East — just check the schedule first on betimepractice.com.
I will say by the time I reached Herald Square, my Zen was much diminished, but the agita was gone and that is a feat, my friends.