NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When we think of meditation, quiet spaces come to mind, but now a New York group is turning that concept upside down.On Thursday, CBS2’s Alice Gainer joined in on what they call “the street retreat.”The subway at rush hour would hardly seem the place to practice meditation, but that’s exactly what one group did — and Gainer joined them. It’s run by an organization called Buddhist Insights — led by monk Bhante Suddhaso.“Today we’ll be practicing ‘loving kindness meditation’ here in the subway,” he explained.Participants were told to send thoughts of love and peace to loved ones and to those in the subway.“This practice is one of bringing up a feeling of unconditional love, and good will,” Suddhaso explained.
Everyone taking part had meditated in more traditional, quiet settings, but never in the subway.It’s the mission of the group to take meditation out of quiet spaces, and into public places. They’ve meditated in a factory, out on a sidewalk, seemingly everywhere.“You can meditate anywhere regardless of how quiet or how loud it is,” Suddhaso said.The message — no more excuses not to meditate.“It’s a little bit like I’m going to start the diet on Monday, or I’m going to go to the gym next week, and then next week and Monday never arrives,” Giovanni Masselli said.In the subway they believe the house is not the obstacle. It’s your attitude towards it.“It’s just sound.
I it’s only a problem if you make it a problem,” Suddhaso said.The meditation can become a source of curiosity, and some straphangers weren’t sure what to make of the unusual sighting.“I see what’s going on. I don’t know what it is though,” one rider said.Two riders actually joined in.
Others were pleased by what they saw.“We can all stand to be a little happier, and it’s great that they’re doing this I think — and it certainly that made my day happier,” Jacob Herman said.“I think that’s wonderful they’re doing in that it’s very needed, very needed right now,” Matthew Zimmerman added.It can take a little getting used to, but CBS2’s Gainer eventually got the hang of it.“At first I kept hearing the noises, but after a while it was easy to drown that out, so to be able to just put that aside, and sort of focus on my own thoughts, I was surprised by that,” Gainer said.“You can find inner peace wherever you are — even in the middle of New York City,” Suddhaso said.
All of Buddhist Insights’ events are free and open to the public.