A walk across one of New York City’s busiest bridges may not come to mind when considering meditation, but that’s exactly what will happen on Sunday.
And anyone walking across the Brooklyn Bridge could see it in action: very slow action. It is a set of guided music, meditation in motion, with a soundtrack that can only be heard by participants wearing headphones.
Meditation teacher and composer Murray Hidary will lead one of his signature meditative walks along the historic stretch with his company, MindTravel, which he formed with the idea of helping people calm down in the chaos of today’s world.
He takes participants on a mindful walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and also walked across the Williamsburg Bridge and led walkers through Central Park.
“The ingredients of MindTravel are music at its core, and then nature, movement and community,” the Brooklyn-born, NYU-educated Hidary told the Daily News.
The physical benefits of walking, the experience of immersing yourself in music and doing it with other people is a way of “connecting the external and internal landscape,” Hidary said. “There is a sense of healing that takes place.”
Though he began practicing and teaching long before the coronavirus pandemic and recent deadly mass shootings, Hidary finds the practice even more useful and relevant today.
Most meditative traditions have people focus on the body or the breath “because it’s always with you,” Hidary said. “It’s a very pragmatic reason.”
What unites those two methods is the way they focus someone’s attention on the present moment. And it’s not just about sitting on a cushion.
On top of that, Hidary found that music helps people keep their attention longer.
“Music by nature is ephemeral, so it only exists at this moment,” Hidary said. “By paying attention note for note, you maintain an intimacy in the moment.”
The paying participants meet in the park near City Hall in Manhattan, and Hidary will hand out wireless headphones for the walk that begins at 7 pm As they begin to walk slowly, he will play a musical recording that he has selected “specifically for this trip,” he said. “And I narrate and guide the experience with my voice.”
Once across the bridge, the group will end up in Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the Manhattan skyline.
How does it happen
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Most of the participants are people looking for balance in what can be an unbalanced world and in one of the noisiest places on the planet.
“We don’t have to escape to the other side of the world to find that. We can find that anytime inside,” Hidary said.
Vacations and retreats are great and restorative, he said. But keeping that mojo afterwards is the real challenge.
“Most of the time we are in our lives, in the middle of it, in the middle of it, at work, at home. That’s when life happens…where it’s often messy and chaotic,” Hidary said, noting that maintaining that state of focus instills a person with a sense of empowerment and agency.
“It’s about ‘How do we get people to bring this sensitivity into all areas of their lives, not just on the cushion?'” he said. “It can be done, but you have to work at it and build that muscle.”
So if you see a large group of people moving almost imperceptibly down one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares on Sunday, enjoy it.
“There is magic in that moment,” Hidary said. “Because when you slow down, you know what’s available. Everything begins to blossom and unfold, and you have a deeper experience of the moment and of your own state.”