I live in New York City. I work at a meditation center. This one.

By the way, this is a great conversation starter at parties.

“And what do you do?”

“I work at a meditation center.”

“Really. Can you get me tickets?”

People may not know exactly what we’re all about, but they know, deep in their gut, how trendy it is.

Sometimes when I tell people what I do they lower their iPhones, which is frightening because now they’re making eye contact. They look as if at any moment I’ll be dropping some profound nugget of wisdom. This makes me nervous. I start worrying there’s tomato sauce on my shirt.

You’re probably reading this blog post on your iPhone. Or iPad. In public. Which is fine! I’m not judging! It’s just interesting how we all look for more subtle and sophisticated ways to avoid eye contact, not just with each other but with the world in general. I don’t blame you. Us. It’s pretty insane out there.

Meditation can be intense precisely because it’s not about avoiding your world. Meditation is leaning smack into it.

Luckily, Apple has a solution. The iCushion – a sleek, sophisticated, high-tech-information-portal-meditation-seat-with-GPS. Earnest-looking app developers are already camping out in front of the Apple Store (salmon swim upstream to mate, we wait on line at the Apple Store).  Soon we’ll be too busy tweeting and listening to our favorite podcast to notice how lonely and self-conscious we feel.

I don’t like celebrities. They make me feel self-conscious; I know they’re judging me for not being one of them. And since we’re in New York City I’m convinced at any moment Lady Gaga will stroll into our meditation center. James Franco is reading this right now after a tearful Google search after an argument with his girlfriend. James Franco is sensitive.

New York is home to the UN. What am I supposed to do if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strolls into the place looking for a way to cope with his public speaking anxiety? How would you deal with a room full of delegates walking out on you? I’m just saying… this is the kind of pressure that drove me to meditate.

Me: This way to the shrine room Mr. Trump.

The Donald: You have soy sauce on your shirt.

But I digress.

I actually think New Yorkers are natural meditators. Of course, most of us are hovering over a screen all day. But you also can’t walk down the street without tripping over a yoga studio. And everyone here has a therapist (when I moved here a burly gentleman took me aside and started reading from his notepad: “…If you cannot afford a therapist one will be provided for you.”) Everyone I meet is either rushing to therapy, irritated because they just came from therapy, or asking me if I know a good therapist. Therapy is the ultimate meditation-on-self.

By the way, if you know a good therapist my email address is at the end of this blog post.

One last story: I was sitting on the ground at Madison Square Park. It was one of those magnificent days – bright blue sky, soft breeze, perfect temperature. Of course I was depressed. I must’ve closed my eyes for a minute because the next thing I remember is a little boy, maybe five years old, standing in front of me looking right into my eyes. I was too startled out of my self-consciousness to avoid what was happening, so I just locked eyes with him. It could’ve been seven seconds or it could’ve been all day. And maybe he said something (“Mister, you’ve got applesauce on your shirt”), but what I mainly remember was feeling amazed. This was happening. And I was surprised how heavyhearted and empty I felt after he walked away to check his email.


David Allen McKeel lives in Manhattan. He is regularly intimidated by the Apple Store. If you are a therapist, his email address is [email protected]