Meditation on public transit – and no one will even notice

Public transit is an interesting thing. It’s the one time during the day when we all just accept the fact that we have no control over our personal space, range of motion, who we are close to, or how long we are confined to those conditions. And somehow the system works.

In a world where we are provided with so much choice over what we do and how we do it (whatever your need, there’s an app for it), it’s almost comforting to have these basic controls taken away. It provides a fixed amount of time to sit back, relax, and…meditate. Yes, meditate. Ok, so you could opt to spend this time catching up on the latest news feeds on your iPhone, or take a sneak peek at your work inbox, which you are about to (unwillingly) face in about 20 mins anyway. Instead of tainting this time with the same frantic energy that already takes up most of my day, I choose to relish in the opportunity of having 20 uninterrupted minutes to myself.

Yes, you may be in uncomfortably close quarters, holding on to the too-high hand railing above you, occasionally bumping into your train neighbor during stops. And perhaps there is a funny aroma of which you can’t quite locate the origin. But all the better conditions for practicing finding your inner peace!

One of my favorite meditations to do on the train is imagining my energetic boundary, only 4 inches or so above my skin, completely incasing me. And from my solar plexus a clean white light burns brightly, filling my entire etheric body up to the boundary, cleansing me of negative energy and filling me with grace. I thank Lisa Rafel for introducing me to this beautiful meditation, and at this point the practice has become a pavlovian response each time I step onto the MUNI en route to work. It is undeniable that following this practice puts me in a calmer, more focused state of mind, and that the day simply flows more easily.

Aside from the obvious mental health benefit, the great thing about meditation is that it is completely undisruptive, and even unnoticeable. While it may help to have eyes closed when first learning this practice, I find it not necessary, and sometimes having eyes open makes for a more powerful experience. Imagine how much more pleasurable the train ride would be if everyone tuned into this higher frequency, instead of the frequency of their phones!

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Once fortified, now my playground

Old, worn things are much more interesting than new things. They carry with them the stories and energy of the people who had come in contact with them in all the years past, providing so much to be absorbed in and affected by.  And they remind us that nothing is permanent – everything is constantly changing and evolving.

Aside from Sutro Baths, other likely spots for ruins in San Francisco (other than the obvious Alcatraz) are the Presidio and Angel Island. Both places were historically military-run. They now have become my playground for pictures.

And a beautiful playground the Presidio is. This old bunker is perched on a cliff alongside the Golden Gate Bridge, overlooking San Francisco bay. Waves crash loudly below, and with the nearly ever present fog, the wind is cold, damp and cleansing. It seems an unlikely place to be associated with warfare. But the remaining rubble makes for some fun pictures.

Like the Presidio, Angel Island has its own unique history with the military. These are shots from what was once a hospital for POWs.  Now, not so sanitary.

 

Exploring Sutro Baths

I realized early on that I had a fascination with photography. But it wasn’t until after college that I finally took a class. At first I was shy about putting the camera where my instincts guided me. Does it look weird that I’m photographing this object in this way? Is it odd that I like to shoot into the sun? And slowly I began peeling away the layers of insecurities, until I found myself simply shooting with abandon and not with thoughts. And boy did it feel good.

I’ve found that one of my favorite things to do is exploring abandoned buildings and structures. Today I made a visit to the Sutro Baths and examined the textures of the cement walls. After a week of rain, I was lucky to make the trip wet-free and even capture the beautiful sunset.