Mindful in the City

A few weeks ago, my yoga instructor and I made a commitment that I was going to start meditating every morning. It worked well on the weekend or days I didn’t do much because I could choose to meditate at whatever time I woke up. However, on the days that I had to get up at 6am for work, I wasn’t too pleased about it.

On the first early morning, without even thinking about it, I skipped the meditation. I got up, got ready, and drove downtown. As I was walking out of the parking garage with my phone and headphones in hand, I paused. I said to myself, “No, I’m not going to use my phone on this twenty minute walk” and began my trek down Michigan Avenue.

I decided to be really mindful instead. I noticed all the beautiful flowers planted along the street, something I never pay close attention to. I know this walk like the back of my hand, but usually I’m listening to music or responding to texts, completely unaware of my surroundings. I noticed a new store that opened that I had never noticed before. I became aware of all the people I passed, and how so many of them were multitasking and on their phones. I paid attention nonjudgmentally to them, rather than comparing myself to each person I passed and telling myself they’re skinnier, taller, blonder, pulling off an outfit I’d never let myself wear. I noticed the pace I was walking. Usually I speed walk everywhere but this time, even when I’m not in a hurry. Today, I slowed down. I didn’t cross streets when there was a break in the traffic for me to run across even though the walk sign was off. I realized how often I body check and look at myself in the window reflections. It’s so habitual for me, I’m not even aware of doing it until I stop and pay attention to it, like I did today.


Emily and the skyline

Twenty minutes later when I got to work, I didn’t feel a sense of anxiety or panic or feel tired from walking so fast. I sat down, drank my Starbucks refresher, and started writing about my mindful morning.

Mindfulness and meditation doesn’t have to be seated on a cushion in silence for thirty minutes. It can, and I love doing that too, but you can be mindful anywhere, and that’s often a good place to start. Walk your dog and leave your phone behind, cook dinner mindfully, notice your surroundings next time you take a coffee run.  Take in the world around you because chances are, there are things you’ve never noticed before.

Editor's note:  Emily Rutherford is part of breathe bar's social media team.  She is a student at DePaul University studying journalism and psychology.

Sylvia Maldonado