Recently, our family spent a week in one of the most magical places on Earth: Walt Disney World. It was amazing and our vacation was packed full of excitement, laughter and joy. It was also packed full of crowds and waiting for attractions. When we go to Disney, our family typically enjoys very full days, up to 12-14 hours in the park each day. As a regular daily meditator, a simple dilemma presented itself: skip a week of meditation or figure out another option. I chose Option B and discovered that: not only is meditation possible in a crowd, it is also possible to enjoy a transcendent experience while doing so. Can you meditate in a crowd? Absolutely!
To set the stage a bit, my first meditation in a crowd took place during the first day of our vacation as we were enjoying Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The day was winding down and we were fortunate to have reserved seating at the Fantasmic Nighttime Show. This show features a very large open-air seating arrangement that faces a large water feature, where boats pass in front of the audience and other effects are demonstrated, and is ultimately back dropped by an enormous multi-leveled stage. The musical performance stars Mickey Mouse encountering the forces of evil while in a dream state and lasts about 30 minutes. It is a wise move to get there at least an hour before show time, even with reserved seats. That is exactly what we did.
The six of us sat together on metal bleachers and waited for the performance. At this point, I realized that we had about 45 minutes together, before the show, and asked my wife Keri if it was okay if I tried meditation. She agreed to keep the kids quiet and I began to enjoy a 20 minute meditation. Our kids are 10, 8, 6 & 4. Do you think they are able to sit for 45 minutes on a bench and remain relatively quiet? No, of course not, they are kids. But that just adds to the experience and it may help convince some readers of what may be possible.
How to Meditate in a Crowd
First and foremost, emphatically tell yourself that you can do it. This is absolutely necessary and will ultimately gauge whether or not you will be successful in your meditation.
Next, let go of any expectations or of any desired results. One of the greatest rules of meditation is that some is better than none. Come to think of it, that pretty much works with some other situations as well (ice cream, friendship, romance, etc.), but we can save that for another post at some point down the road.
Anyway, when you let go of expectation, you free yourself to experience the moment and give yourself permission to have any experience possible. This is tremendous and in it of itself can be a wonderful reason for meditation.
After letting go of expectations, I recommend getting comfortable, closing your eyes, taking a few relaxing breaths and choosing a mantra to help bring yourself into a meditative state. A So Hum meditation is a wonderful way to relax yourself and quiet the mind so that you can enjoy the inward journey that meditation provides. (Reference Article chopra.com/articles/so-hum-meditation)
After a few relaxing breaths, allow yourself to breath normally and begin silently repeating to yourself “So … Hum…”. Relax and just keep repeating the mantra. It may help to use “So” on the in-breath and “Hum” on the out-breath. The important part is to just relax and let the mantra be on its own. Allow yourself to simply listen naturally to the mantra, rather than being rigidly fixed to it and forcing it to come out in a certain way. If the mantra wants to change as you meditate, allow it to change and be flexible. Remain in the flow, let go of expectations and allow the meditation to proceed in the way that it does on its own.
Related Post: Meditation for Beginners
Was I interrupted during the 20 minute meditation? Absolutely! Kids were talking to me, kids were sitting on my lap at times; I could hear Keri telling them to quiet down. Additional conversations were happening all around me. Other guests were arriving. The crowd was doing the wave. There were lots and lots of potential distractions. I just went with it and it was amazing.
One technique that really helped me during the meditation, is that I imagined myself far above my body. At first just a few feet, then farther and farther away until I was hovering over the state of Florida and ultimately in outer space observing the world, the United States, Florida, Disney and finally the outdoor theater. As this was happening, I would tell myself, “I AM here and I AM there.” In this way, I could hear the noise of the crowd, the noise of my children and the venue and simultaneously drift into a deep silence and meditation. Sometimes I would dive deeper into silence. At other times, I would come out of silence and be jostled by a noise or a physical sensation.
I kept moving back and forth from inner silence to outer activity. If at any time, I felt the outer activity, I would simply return to the mantra or the visualization of being ‘here’ and ‘there’, simultaneously. This allowed me to return comfortably and slip back into the silence.
Conclusion – Did it actually work?
A resounding yes; I was definitely able to enjoy meditation in a very crowded space and receive the benefits from the meditation. The meditation lasted for about 20 minutes and I felt great afterwards.
Can this work for you? Absolutely. Simply believe that you can; then do it. The results are amazing!
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