Pop-up Urban Retreat
with Urban Retreat Lab
Who’s got time to go on retreat these days? Hopefully you. But maybe it’s also possible to distil the retreat experience into a few hours, without even leaving the city? This is our new mission, pop-up intensive retreats in the midst of the city. Just to make that mission a bit more audacious we’ll find unique locations for each pop-up, so that we infect the city with our good vibes.
First Pop-up 17th November -
Tunnelbana (Stockholm’s Metro)
There’s a story behind the idea of meditating on the metro. On a retreat in California, years ago, I was in a meditation review with the teacher, Viveka. We were talking about how ‘insights’ happen. I told that for me those experiences seemed to be completely accidental, as if they came out of nowhere. ‘Ah, so you just have to figure out how to become more accident prone’, she said, laughing.
But was there a special set of ‘conditions’, or circumstances, that set the scene for these experiences? One thing came to mind, public transport.
Long journeys, on public transport, seem to bring together an almost magical set of conditions.
If I’m are lucky, there’s a warm, comfortable seat and that rolling and rocking movement, which is somehow so soothing (maybe that’s why aeroplanes don’t have the same magic). Once on the bus or train I have entered the ‘in between world’, I am nowhere, I’m not in one place. Sitting there, there is nothing that needs to be done by me, I’ve put my trust in the driver. I’m the passenger, and we all know how that experience inspired Iggy Pop.
But something else too. There’s a tremendous amount of fascinating sensory stimulation, but nothing that my mind can get too involved in. I’m watching the world go past the window, but if something catches my attention it is gone, sometimes even before I can figure out what it was. It’s the same with people, I’m curious but if I don’t strike up a conversation, my mind isn’t drawn into their world.
Of course these days public transport isn’t the refuge it used to be. We can be working on our laptops, making calls, listening to others make calls.
Maybe it’s time to reclaim the ‘bardo of journey’?
Our first pop-up retreat will be on the Tunnelbana, Stockholms underground, overground, metro system.
We’ll meet for coffee first and a chance to say hello. Ulrika and I will give you the password to a set of audio recordings which will be the basis of our retreat. For two hours we’ll be in silence together on the train, each listening to the quiet instructions in our ear, a series of led meditations, reflections and questions.
You’ll need a smart phone, with a full battery and headphones.
Suitable for anyone with some experience of meditation.
Sign-up for my Red Letter so that you don’t miss future dates.