The Zen of Blacktop

Finding peace in the city

The Zen of Blacktop

How many times have we read articles extolling the soul-soothing attributes of nature? Many of us have come to believe we can only reach inner peace by leaving the city life behind. The beliefs of our collective unconscious are very persuasive, and it can be difficult to shift our perceptions.

While we can agree that nature is magnificent, we judge man-made materials as less than divine. Many otherwise enlightened individuals feel disempowered while living in cities. They wait for some elusive feeling that will find them once they find the perfect place in the country. In the meantime they live with daily guilt that they cannot find their Zen moments because they do not live in a Zen place.

No matter how far into the wilderness you go, you cannot leave yourself behind. If you do not like some aspect of yourself, you can either change it or drag it with you everywhere. It is your choice.

See Beyond Your Expectations

Our modern cities have been given a bad rap. Why is it that concrete and glass skyscrapers cannot lead us to spiritual and emotional fulfillment but a grassy meadow does? The Universe is a field of energy. According to Lynn McTaggert, author of The Field (Harper, 2003), this field of energy connects us all, like a web. There is nothing outside this field. When we learn to see things from a different perspective, it is possible for anything to be seen as beautiful. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

Can we spiritually evolve enough to see as beautiful those things that we normally dismiss as unpleasant? An architect or artist can see a high-rise as beautiful and majestic, perhaps like many see a snow-capped mountain range.

We can learn to see past the obvious. How? By questioning our judgments.

Random Acts of Beauty

Watch vehicles weaving in and out of traffic; envision yourself on a huge anthill, everyone going about his or her business. Out of the apparent chaos there is an intricate dance of purpose. We are all part of a colourful design, and it is beautiful. Be present in the moment; the moment is always perfect.

When next you are on a corner waiting for the light to change, gaze upon a building that is old and unkempt. See the swirl of peeling paint, like abstract art, moving and flowing with a
seemingly effortless grace. Observe the angles and shadows worn by nature. See the chipped cement with its sharp edges and smooth contours. The ridges and pitting are a virtual mosaic of texture and sensation. The corner becomes alive; the building has a pulse, a history, a frequency of vibration. When we stop judging, we open to a vista of possibilities.

When walking along downtown streets of modern high-rises and old hotels, study the lines of the buildings, their curves, the flow of the architecture. Revel in how they fill the space, and sense the energy within them, from the avant-garde to the archaic. There is peace in experiencing these examples of aesthetic shifts through the ages.

Find Sanctuary

Take advantage of the peaceful oases within your city; those little sidewalk coffee shops, the museums, the spas tucked away amid the retail stores and offices. Before leaving your automobile, be still and enjoy the quiet. Breathe deeply. Become attuned to the silence, the sensuousness of the moment. Feel your muscles relax, and for that moment experience peace within. You may even experience a flash of insight known by Zen masters as satori.

Get rid of the hurry factor. Because cities have a sense of urgency, the first step in changing your reaction is awareness. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to work and appointments. You do not need to buy into the hurry sickness. Be diligent about yanking this belief system right out of your existence.

Urban Bliss

Our urban landscapes are only ugly to those who choose not to see. With practice you can reach nirvana without selling everything you own and finding lodgings in the wilderness. The sanctimonious gurus saying we can recharge the soul only through nature’s retreats can be put to rest. Those living within the vortex of the city can find peace, too.

You might also like

French Toast Muffins

Healthy Soda Bread with Edamame and Pea Hummus

Taco-to-Go Balls