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.
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!!)
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!
Director, The Sacred Science