Whether it’s at the local meditation center, a sangha member’s private apartment, or the once-a-week room rental in a highrise, dedicated urban meditators will always find a way to get their awareness fix. And now, New Yorkers can fit practice into their day in a quirky kind of venue: a retrofitted 1979 RV.
Calm City, touted as New York’s first mobile meditation studio, offers 10-minute guided meditations for $10 to those traversing Manhattan’s bustling streets.
Kristin Westbrook, Calm City’s founder and former creative director at Rockefeller Center, first thought of a meditation-on-wheels service when she had trouble finding a quiet place for her daily afternoon practice in the city.
For her, daily meditation is critical for shifting the mind toward positivity and calm awareness of the present moment. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and again in 2012, Westbrook told Tricycle that her practice, influenced by Transcendental Meditation and Buddhist teachings, helped her cope with the challenges of her diagnosis.
With the intent to share the benefits of meditation she had experienced with others, Westbrook recently completed a certified teacher training program through the mindfulness and lovingkindness practice community called The Path.
In Calm City, she wanted to create a comfortable space that offers busy New Yorkers the opportunity to quickly center themselves and benefit from the anxiety-reducing effects of regular practice.
The vehicle’s roomy interior is modern, sleek, and aesthetically simple. With soundproofed walls and repurposed Ikea countertops as seats, the truck can hold up to nine meditators at a time.
Once a chime rings through internal speakers, a recording from Marlie McGovern, a New York–based mindfulness teacher, guides practitioners through body and mind awareness exercises. Before the session ends, a prolonged moment of silence helps visitors to carry the calm they’ve established back into their day.
From Westbrook’s perspective, Calm City serves as an essential check-in. “I wanted to have Superman’s phone booth on every corner,” she said, “so that people could connect to their inner super powers. [People can] just pop in and connect.”
For New Yorkers seeking to do just that, Westbrook and her assistant, Mike D’Amore, station the truck in several locations in Manhattan every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The truck’s location, which can change throughout the day, is listed online, where seats can be reserved ahead of time.
And for the other city-dwelling meditators out there, just wait for Calm City’s example to take shape in an RV near you.