How To Soul Survive In The City

By Nick Polizzi

I’ve been traveling a TON lately and am grateful to finally be back home in Berkeley, CA!  Whenever I am preparing to go on the road, I experience a familiar feeling of dread, knowing that my “sacred lifestyle” is about to be challenged in all manner of ways.  It’s not always easy to go about my peaceful morning rituals while crammed in a hotel room and it’s also hard to find consciously sourced foods in certain parts of middle USA.  But my most recent trip back to my native New York City was challenging on a completely different level.

I stay with friends and family whenever I visit NYC so my waking practices can be as prolonged as I need them to be. There are also a ton of amazing natural food shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn so foraging for good eats is no problem whatsoever. So what is it? What could I possibly need that gotham city doesn’t have to offer?

The simple answer is: PEACE.

Or at least that was what I used to think when I lived there. When I was in my mid twenties the “go get em” energy was a dream come true. The all nighters of work and play felt like paradise. Nowadays, not so much. The reason my wife and I left New York in the first place was to get away from the heads down hustle and bustle that any New Yorker will tell you is a way of life in the big apple.

A few years ago when we filmed The Sacred Science, I was astounded when Roman Hanis (one of the lead shamans from the film) told me that New York was one of his favorite places to visit!! Seeing my confusion, he explained, “Nick, the places of beauty in the world can only teach you so much. Sometimes we need to throw ourselves into the chaos of massive human interaction to really learn some of the hard lessons.”


Then thinking about it, I realized that many of the same people that acknowledge the chaos and coldness of the city also call their lives spiritually fulfilling and quite peaceful. Some of my dearest friends live in small, one-bedroom apartments, with cockroaches in the closet and rats in the gutter, and they are among the sweetest and spiritually connected people I know.

And contrary to what I thought, there are some amazing resources available for open hearted folks that live in metropolitan areas. To the untrained eye, these concrete cityscapes can seem cold and intimidating, but we humans all have a basic need to feel connected to ourselves and to the earth. The wise city-dweller knows where the spiritual oasis’ are.

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If you ever find yourself in a bind, here are some quick ideas to help you soul survive in the city:

Unity Church and other Meditation Centers:  If you haven’t heard of Unity Church, it’s a place where all prophets and deities, regardless of religion, are treated equally.  Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus alike are welcome to come and be connected to the sacred.  There are Unity Churches in every major town and city across the U.S.   (Plus they love to screen The Sacred Science film at their events!!)

Check out our award-winning film now

Bath houses: In recent years, bath houses have gotten kind of a bad name, but to many who live in big cities, this ancient tradition is a way of life. If you’ve never been to one, GO!! Every major religion has their own interpretation of the bath house, in fact the first bath house I ever went to was in Morocco (the muslims call this a “hammam”).

Be forewarned: at a good bath house, you will be working with hot/cold therapy, powerful exfoliation practices, and deep tissue massage. The facilitators are masters in these techniques and you will feel like a million bucks afterward.

Know the folks at the local health food store. They’ve got their ear to the ground on the local haps in the community. They usually have some artsy flyers too.

Fasting is Free – My friend David Wolfe once told me that he treats long plane rides abroad as the perfect opportunity to water fast. This is obviously a serious practice and you should do some research before trying this out, but he makes a good point!

What’s in your iPod? – the happiest people I know have their iPods / MP3 players loaded with enlightened beats, meditation music, lectures on consciousness and how to thrive, and other soul enrichment audio.

When you’re crammed on the A-train or Express Bus and get elbowed in the cheek by your fellow commuter, a little Deepak can go a long way!

I hope these tips help. City dwellers, please feel free to offer any of your own tips below. The more the merrier!

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Director, The Sacred Science

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73 Responses

  1. My favourite places in cities are gardens, preferably with water. The joy in my heart when I enter a garden is amazing. Even in gardens (or parks) filled with visitors, there is always a quiet spot to just sit and be calm.

  2. very cool story Nick ! if i may add few more, that we all know and love : meditation, dancing, playing music , biking, discovering new sacred secret places and spaces, within and without, connecting with art, music, local radio stations, local healers, teachers, coffee-shops , farmer markets, community , mother nature , any body of water, any tree, roof tops, voices, clouds, stars, sun light ,inviting flowers, herbs, incense, crystals, plants, colors and art into one’s space home , staying connected to your spirit and keeping the balance/ peace! taking care of yourself ~good food, water, exercise and shearing present moments with all we meet <3 : o O ye ! and Craigslist and FB ; ) much love to you and your family!

  3. For church connections there are also Unitarian-Universalists; we count among our members, Humanists, Buddhists, Hindus, First-Nation Peoples, Pagans, Wiccans., Darwinians,….etc., etc., etc. AND social activists! Thanks for such great advice…Living Well in Detroit!

  4. Oh Nick, Thank you so much for this post. I just returned to my peaceful home in the Northwest from a hectic trip to Southern California where I lived and loved every minute of it for 8 years. Since I am retired now and time is no longer a factor I refuse to fly because of the choice of radiation or the indignities. So I took the bus, no picnic, 32 hours on a packed bus all of the way but the Universe delivered a wonderful seatmate who is totally on the same page with me. She lives about 100 miles from me and I feel we will have a long and productive friendship.

    The 2nd day I was there I told myself I was never going back because of the hustle & bustle and all of the noise. Sleeping was a real challenge due to the traffic noise and my days were disorganized trying to live out of my suitcase and inadequate outlets for my electronic gadgets. Because of my attitude I was unable to really enjoy the beauty of the setting right on the beach that I loved so much when I lived there.

    There were many wonderful hours with my daughter and granddaughter and many old friends and I finally decided I definitely will return and be looking forward to the lovely surprises the Universe has for me. Then it was time to board the bus once again for another dreaded 32 hours. Should I have been surprised that the Universe gave me not one but two seatmates during the trip home? Both of them also on a similar spiritual path and so I gained a total of 3 new friends that I would not have met otherwise and learned another lesson about how my attitude colors my world.

  5. Growing up in NYC I never realized how noisy it is. Older now and much more passionate about peace, I’ve developed an appreciation for consistent prayer and meditation.

    Myrrh, frankenscence and sage are my favorite cleansing / atmosphere changing herbs.

  6. Living in big cities for the last years taught me so much. It taught the art of being happy unconditionally and it’s fun to see all of my different reactions to the chaos (people, noise, eye contact with strangers, concrete jungle…). The noise has been the hardest for me, but it sometimes fall into a perfect harmony when I feel with my heart that all the external becomes beautiful. Also, its fun to see different parts of a same city, all the lights, the vibes, the synchronicities, the people you meet, the creative vizualisation, to the point I sometimes forget in which country I am.
    It’s crazy, the present moment and going within. I love to explore externally and internally.