While it’s ideal to wake up early, enjoy a cup a tea, read from a spiritual book, and sit in front of your meditation alter to dive into bliss for 15 or 20 minutes, some days will inevitably feel frantic and rushed. And you may find yourself racing to school or work without meditating. But all hope is not lost—you can still get your meditation in by taking your practice on the road. Here are some of my favorite go-to public places to meditate, as well as recommendations for who would likely use them.
Car meditations are one of my personal favorite because they are safe, and depending on where you park, they can be quiet and very comfortable. I recommend getting in the front passenger seat of your car, taking your shoes off, letting the seat back a little, and maybe even keeping a shawl or blanket in the car for additional comfort. (This option is great for salespeople who are often on the road, parents who wait in line to pick up the kids from school, people with a busy or noisy household, and meditators who work in an open office without walls).
Do you commute to work? Catching an early flight? If so, you have a built-in time-slot for your morning meditation. Instead of scrolling through your phone, sit comfortably in your bus, train, or plane seat with earphones in your ears, or sunglasses on, and you’ll be able to meditate incognito for a good 10 or 15 minutes without drawing any unnecessary attention to yourself. Just make sure not to miss your stop.
Churches or temples
If you don’t have a car because you live or work in a busy urban environment like New York or Chicago, see if you can locate a church or a temple near your office or school that is open to the public. Churches are usually quiet, and free, and you’ll blend right in with the people who are sitting in the pews praying.
Passing by a yoga studio on your way to a sales meeting? Until more drop-in meditation studios open up, most yoga studios welcome the public to use one of their open rooms for meditation. At the very least, you can sit on a bench or chair in the lobby or hallway and meditate. It’s like ordering water at a restaurant—they shouldn’t charge you anything.
If the weather is pleasant, a nice place to meditate is in a safe park where you can find a nice bench or a patch of grass to sit for your meditation. I always recommend back support, for maximum comfort, but trees work well too. Also, you want to make sure you pick a place not in direct sunlight, as it can be distracting to have the sun shining behind your eyelids.
I once had a profoundly deep meditation while sitting in a Barnes & Noble in New York. Nowadays, bookstores usually have chairs set up for people to sit and read. There’s no rule saying you can’t sit and meditate, right? Bookstores are also usually quiet and distraction-free.
Malls, hotels, and spas usually have comfortable benches and sofas which could be repurposed for your meditation. Or if you have a dental or doctor’s appointment, you could plan to show up 20 minutes early and meditate in the lobby or waiting room there, as well. If you’re nervous about being disturbed, sit in a corner where your chances of being in someone’s way will be less.
By forcing yourself to find public places to meditate, you’ll begin to develop keen awareness of potential public meditation spots. And when you enter a new space, the first thing you’ll think about is, “Hmmm, where would I meditate in here if I had to?”