The past 20 or so years of my life have been filled with countryside, lakeside and then mountainside living. As a kid I taught myself meditation, practiced tarot cards and took incredibly long walks in nature. In my college city I swam in lakes, collected crystals and hosted psychic parties on the weekends. I’ve always been able to find a center of peace and calm up until my arrival in NYC. My move was the first time in my life I felt drastically knocked out of spiritual balance. Luckily, I’ve slowly started to get it back.
Here are some spiritual survival tips that are helpful no matter where you live, but might feel like lifesavers for those of you craving balance in the concrete jungle.
1. Practice ritual.
One of the biggest challenges I had when I first moved here was staying focused. By keeping a daily routine- waking up at the same time each day and falling asleep at the same time each night, I’ve dramatically improved the level of focus I have. I now do yoga right when I wake up and meditate right after that. A daily routine adds an element of ritual to my life. It makes the moments that unfold after yoga & meditation feel intentional and mindful. Allowing my body to keep a consistent sleep/wake cycle has also helped me to discover a space of ease in my meditation and yoga practice- my body and mind subconsciously expect me to be practicing at a certain time each day. It’s really amazing when you start to crave things that are good for you!
2. Find Like-Minded People.
Upon moving to the city I immediately made friends that shared the same professional interests as me. I have close friends with whom I can talk about music, writing, and gear for hours on end. It’s been much more difficult to find people that like crystals, tarot cards and reiki. Make it a priority to seek out spiritually inclined people. There are plenty of spiritual spaces in this city and it’s as simple as making time to visit those places if you really want to make those types of friends. Yoga & meditation centers are also good places to go, as are raw vegan restaurants.
3. Build Crystal Grids.
Crystal grids are great at focusing intention. If you are already familiar with crystals, you know each type of crystal holds a unique healing vibration. By combining them into a grid form you are able to capture and focus a combination of different healing energies. I build grids as a meditative manifestation practice. Whereas single crystals are awesome when dealing with a very specific issue- grids are great to help us focus and send intent to larger life goals and big problems. I like to imagine no longer having to stress about whatever it is I am trying to manifest once my crystal grid is built.
4. 20 minute Yoga.
Some days I feel as though I would be of no use to the world if I hadn’t gotten my 20 minutes of yoga in for the day. It is part of my morning ritual and it helps me to feel grounded. I think one of the reasons most people feel out of balance in NYC is because they aren’t centered within their physical bodies. Yoga is known for connecting the mind, body & spirit. Developing a daily short yoga practice is quick and easy and committing to it puts you on the fast track to balance.
5. Begin Healthy.
It is more than easy to eat terribly living in NYC. I lived off of espresso, wine and pain au chocolat for a week once- not even kidding. I know I am probably not the only one who has experienced poor eating habits due to lack of time, energy and commitment to health. I know from my country past life that the easiest way to rectify this is to begin your day eating healthy as a continuation of your morning ritual. I always start my day off with a light and healthy meal- fruit, smoothies, gluten free oatmeal, etc. The goal of starting healthy is that no matter how heavy and unhealthy I eat later in the day, I know that I’ve provided my body with at least one nutritious meal. I’ve noticed that this practice typically informs healthier eating habits throughout the rest of the day as well. Keeping your body healthy makes it easier to achieve spiritual balance.
6. Escape NYC.
I wouldn’t be able to survive NYC if I didn’t leave every so often. The trips I take are typically in nature, completely alone with very little media. NYC is extreme so my antidote is an extreme in the opposite direction. Even when that isn’t possible a short trip to any quieter area will do and goes a long way in recharging your spiritual batteries.
7. Get it Out.
I’ve noticed that people tend to be really proud about their city lives. They bury the stress of what life in NYC is like under a facade of pride and constant busy-ness. I really don’t think this is healthy. I feel absolutely terrible when I, myself do this, so instead I’ve begun expressing those feelings as they come up. For me journaling works best. I keep a very honest dialogue with myself about how I am experiencing my life here, which has been really helpful for me. I am able to notice when I’ve become really out of balance and when I probably need to take a break.
8. Learn to Deal.
At some point you really just have to realize that the energy here is just different. It’s fast, intense, draining, exciting, momentous, inspiring and sometimes scary. It is for all of these reasons that so many people are drawn here. It is easy to get stars in your eyes and only acknowledge the awesome things about this city without realizing that all great things also have their drawbacks. In my experience, most people don’t consider NYC to be a place where you’ll find your spiritual center. Realizing that it is going to be a challenge to find balance here will go a long way as far as lowering your expectations and setting some realistic spiritual goals for yourself.
9. Your Golden Friends.
There’s that saying: “make new friend and keep the old…” Of course you know it. Even though I have so many new friends in NY, I’ve made it a priority to stay in touch with my friends back home. They live in nature, most of them are spiritual and they all have pretty grounded lives. They are amazing people who bring a lot to my life. They may not know it but they’ve served as reminders for me of my old life, which was much more grounded. I’ve noticed that my old friendships really help me to remember my goals and keep me on my path. They’re honest with me when they think I have fallen out of balance and they inspire me with the healthy lives they lead.
10. Go Through a Phoenix Phase.
NYC is constantly evolving. Your spiritual practice will go through evolutions too throughout your life. I noticed that my spirituality and spiritual practices have changed depending on where I live. You may very well need to go through a “phoenix” stage in your life. During this phase let go of your idea of how you feel you should be practicing your spirituality. Try out new things. Be willing to shift perspectives. The energy of NYC may very well be asking you to point your spiritual self in a new direction. This may require a ton of fire, but don’t be afraid to burn. You’re bound to rise up strongly from the ashes.
11. Change your Living Situation.
It was really hard for me to do yoga daily, meditate and feel balanced when I lived with a bunch of different people. It was near impossible to find peace and quiet or even to feel like I had a schedule when my roommates would sometimes stay up all night being really loud. I’ve since moved into a new apartment where I only have one roommate, which is a lot less variables to deal with. If your living situation is crazy right now- start looking at other options. Life here is crazy enough and if you can have a peaceful home base, feeling spiritual will come a lot more easily.
12. Clear the Air.
I am super empathic- picking up on nearly everyone’s energy. When I first moved here I worked at a restaurant for a control freak and I always felt drained. I’ve learned to keep my energy more closely guarded, which has helped, but what has helped even more is practicing clearing techniques. Visualizing white light clearing out any energy you’ve collected in yourself, your spirit body and your surroundings works really well as does using sage, cedar, sweetgrass and palo santo to clear the air in your home. I burn one or a combination of these air purifiers on a regular basis. Depending on my state of mind the fragrance of clearing smoke can even help me to focus, deepening my meditations.
13. Go Out in the Elements.
Going outside and experiencing the elements, despite the lack of nature, is necessary. I look forward to snowy and rainy days. I’ve noticed I feel way better spiritually when I go out and engage with the elements than when I sit around all day in my apartment. Weather is one aspect of nature that is always available to us even in a big city. Enjoy it!
14. Drink Spring Water.
People have told me that NYC tap water ranks amongst some of the highest quality tap water in the country- but I have a hard and fast love for spring water. Apparently spring water is “structured water” forming beautiful crystalline shapes when frozen (as seen when magnified). This structure is destroyed when chemicals are added or when the water is processed. It is said to contain the highest electrical frequency of any type of water and being that we are electromagnetic beings- this is of great benefit to us. I haven’t studied spring water enough to truly know, but I’ve collected my own before and it always makes me feel incredible. It’s definitely a positive step towards achieving balance. If possible try to only drink spring water that hasn’t been stored in plastic containers.
15. Start a Daily Tarot Routine.
There is a lesson to learn from every card in a deck of tarot. Each day I draw a card and write about it on my Tumblr. This really helps me to focus on one aspect of my life and meditate on my own intentions for the day. In 5 minutes I’ve consciously taken time to focus on my own self-improvement.
16. Shut up about Money.
NYC is filled with people who just talk about money all the time. I find these people make ME start thinking about making money all of the time. That sort of stress is root chakra stress and that throws the whole system out of balance. Quit being one of those people, you’ll attract less of those people and you’ll feel more at peace. If I thought about money all of the time there is absolutely no way I would feel balanced.
17. Follow Your Dreams.
Anytime I do something that goes against what I feel is my greater purpose I start to feel out of touch. NYC is filled with the possibility to do anything you want. I absolutely encourage the will power to take shitty jobs in order to support your goals, but make sure you are working towards them in the meantime. If you’re not from NYC, remember to nurture your dreams that were the initial reason for you moving here.
18. Clean Out Your Social Circle.
As mentioned above, it’s really important to find like-minded people here. It’s also important to recognize that there may be some people in your life that are dragging you down or knocking you out of balance. For me, this was a group of people that were constantly complaining about their lives and drinking from morning onward. I liked them a lot, but once I started spending less time with them I felt clearer and yes, more balanced.
19. Be Kind, Always.
There are tons of mean people here, but there are also tons of amazingly kind people here. It’s those people that always make me feel really happy just when I’ve lost faith in people. Be one of those people- and start and balance yourself with positive karma.
20. Indulge in “Slow” Activities.
It took me awhile to practice becoming slower. The best thing for me to do when I get out of balance is to pick up a book and read, go on a long walk without my cell phone, meditate or have a friend over for tea. This instantly makes me feel more connected to my spiritual self. The flow of energy outside of technology is so peaceful and renewing. It’s as easy as swapping out one “fast” activity (like watching movies or sitting online) for one “slow” one.
21. Look Beyond.
Just because something doesn’t look overtly “spiritual,” doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Spirituality is a fluid concept, built from individuals’ perception of the mystery of reality and their place within it. You may think that the only way to be spiritual is to become a yoga teacher or tarot reader, but I assure you that isn’t true. I find the most interesting people to be those who are leading spiritual lives and fulfilling spiritual purposes in non-obvious ways. There may be a way for you to use your role as a corporate employee in a way that inspires others to become in touch with their spiritual side. Pave a new path within the opportunities you’ve already created for yourself and start perpetuating good in a way that serves as many people as you can. The corporate world might just be the best place to plant your spiritual seeds.