Park Bench Meditation

Quiet Reflection

awareness, meditation, healing lessons
Paul Simcock / Getty Image

Doing this "Park Bench Meditation" is an interesting way of pulling back your energy and simply allowing the world to revolve all around you while you sit quietly for thirty minutes. And, at the same time you will be learning better awareness.

Here's what to do:

Find yourself a bench in a public area to sit on. A public park is a great place to do this in, but you could also do this sitting meditation at a nature reserve, or try doing it at a shopping mall or bus station.

The goal is to be still and remain non-active throughout this process. You merely sit and watch other people's activity as they pass you by for half an hour. Do not spend your half hour eating your lunch, reading a newspaper, text messaging your friends, or listening to your iPod. Turn off your cell phone. Also, do not take a friend along with you to converse with to help the time pass. You can wear a watch to keep track of the time, but if you find yourself checking your watch every couple of minutes then next time perhaps bring along a timer to avoid the distraction of looking at your watch throughout your meditation.

Slowing Down Your Energy and Honing in on Your Awareness Skills

The idea behind this non-activity is to be silently sitting in one place while being watchful and alert. Notice things! Pay attention to the details. Notice the way some people scurry about and how others take a more leisurely pace.

Notice the different hairstyles, clothing choices, facial gestures, etc. Hear different tones of voices spoken, also listen to outdoor sounds of the birds chirping, children playing, traffic noises, etc. This activity (non-activity really) is not about judging other people, focusing on other people's actions is meant to keep you from internalizing your energies while you sit.

You don't want to be sitting there thinking about your own stuff. This exercise will help you find an energetic "still point" in which you will not be projecting your energy out into the world, nor will you be projecting your energy inwards.

Hint: If you find it difficult to sit still for half an hour, try it for fifteen minutes the first few times.

Park Bench Meditation Experiment

I asked readers to give this meditation a try and get back to me about their experiences. I asked them:  Was it hard to be still? Did it help calm your energies or did you feel frustrated? Did you find that Still-Point I described?

Reader Park Bench Meditation Stories

Exhilarating Experience
by Sonal

Where I Sat During My Park Bench Meditation: A small park close to my home where I go for my usual evening walk. On one side is a creek overlooking the hills with a bridge over it for trains to cross over. The other side is a public garden with a jogger's park.

I sat on the bench which gave me a view of the creek, hills, as well as the garden.The experience was exhilarating. Initially slightly difficult for a few minutes then it was okay. Little things which normally go unnoticed like the different ways in which people gave bird food to a flock of pigeons.

 The setting sun casting wild shadows on the still waters of the creek felt like the sun was impatient to embrace the horizon. Flock of birds returning home. The way in which the group remain together the geometry is unbelievable. Children running wild at times with mothers trying to keep abreast.. The way in which children ate ice cream oblivious to the world around and mothers fretting, trying to clean the mess. At some point I started vibrating and then felt a chilly breeze around me which sent a chill up my spine resulting in goosebumps and a jolt. It was then that I realized where I was. A different feeling, felt tremendous peace and calm different from the regular meditation.

Park bench meditation will be a part of my regular curriculum each time I go for a walk as well as during my travel especially on trains where there is a lot of activity.

Church Benches
by dianaweirich

Where I Sat During My Park Bench Meditation: I retired five years ago and I as I went to work every day before my retirement I would pass by this little church on the river. The church was built in 1850 and had the most beautiful park benches on its property. I left my Company early in the morning in September in 2005 and I had worked with this group for 32 years so it was bit of a shock when we all had to leave. I went straight to the grounds of the church and sat by the bench that was closest to the river.

As I sat by the river an overwhelming feeling of love came over me as if I were cradled by mother earth. The magnificent oaks draped with Spanish moss seemed to sway in time to and fro with the gentle lapping of the river along the sea wall. Hummingbirds buzzed around me and butterflies danced a wonderful ballet showing off their beautiful yellow wings. A large Blue Heron was within two feet of me and I was ever so quiet not to disturb him because watching him and his feathers had a soothing effect on my soul. He stared at me as if to say this is what life is really about. I visit that place daily and always come home wonderful!

Life is not easy, but we can make it better no matter what, if we try. Meditation does put things in proper perspective. Forget about the past hurts, live for the moment and do not worry about the future, because it has a way of working out. I am in my autumn years so I speak from a long life of experience. Love yourself as you are and things really fall into place,and most of all give a big "thank you"for the gift of life and all the blessed moments.

City Hall Park
by Glenda Patterson

Where I Sat During My Park Bench Meditation: I have sat in City Hall park in New York for 4 years. I started sitting in the park right after the murder of my son. City Hall park is full of greenery, flowers, water fountain and benches. I sit on the second bench on the right hand side of the park near the entrance. I sit still for 30 minutes just communing with nature, the trees, the squirrels exercising and playing. I love the sound of the water fountain. While sitting in the park I do not think about anything I just clear my head and prepare for my work day. I feel calm relax and ready for what ever comes my way. I had no clue I was bench meditating. Who knew.

My experience of bench sitting is peaceful for me relaxing I always like sitting in the park. When I attended college in 2001 I would sit in Bryrant park before going to class. It prepared me for the evening class with a clear head ready to receive the lesson. I have recommended bench sitting to several of my friends and family. On a nice sunny day they know I will be sitting in the park.

Bench sitting meditation is a great stress buster. I recommend everyone to try bench sitting meditation. I just called it sitting in the park and being still. Either way, I love it.

Oneness with a White Crane
by Henry Kekoanui

Where I Sat During My Park Bench Meditation: I sat under the trees at Bedford Boys Ranch in the middle of children feeding the ducks and geese and pigeons with pieces of white bread. A dock extends outward in the lake for about 80 yards.

But even amid all the activity surrounding it, a white crane stood on its long legs. I found myself thinking "Be still my friend for I have a question to ask you."

When I began my count down. 1-1,000, 2-1,000 the inhalation process. Then exhaling at 1-1,000 to 4-1,000. After I attained the calm warmth I was seeking, I followed my friend to the little islet in the middle of the 'lake.' My physical self remained on the bench.

It's not difficult to get into my own spiritual surrounding so that during my quiet moment, I gain a oneness with my focal object. In this instance, the white crane. To everyone around me I'm just an old man enjoying my day out. When I come out of my quiet moment, I do feel relaxed and I mentally feel like the big bird answered my question. I know nothing about hypnosis. And if mantras were recited I repeat Dr. Emil Coue's "Every day in every way I am getting better and better."

I've been doing my quiet moments since 2006. I use to use it to fight off my anxiety and panic attacks but now I use it to recall a bit of information that eludes me for a while. etc.

  • Sometimes when I'm prone to anger and aggressiveness I breathe.
  • To help me when I want to be assertive. I breathe.
  • When a person tries to provoke me into an argument. I breathe
  • These are only a few of the lessons I've learned for myself.

Empty Your Mind
by Carol Lee

Where I Sat During My Park Bench Meditation: I sat on a bench at the beach. I had sand dunes and sea oats right in front of me, and a board walk. Way yonder was the ocean. It was a chilly day and the sun was shinning brightly, not a cloud in the beautiful deep blue sky. It was about 2:00pm on a Saturday.

There were not a lot of people, but just enough to keep me entertained and empty my mind. I first watched a couple with a Yorkie. They did not communicate much, walked out on the sand, then returned and sat on another bench. I watched a man swimming in the cold ocean. He was alone, doing a lot of diving into the small waves. I thought he was having a lot of fun. I was hoping he would be OK because, it is not wise to swim alone in the ocean, I thought. He finally came out, dried off and left. I watched a lot of people walking. Some looking down for shells, some walking briskly for exercise, some alone, but most with someone. I watched a couple hugging, and that made me feel happy for them. Most of the people just strolled and talked. I saw a group of ladies sitting in a kiosk talking. A long-haired toothless man wearing torn-off jeans and no shirt walked by and commented about the cloudless sky. I agreed and he lingered for a moment then went to talk to the other ladies. Four young boys and a girl came from the skate park. I guessed they were about 9. The girl walked into the sand with her skates on. I wondered if the sand would hurt her skates. One of the boys threw his skateboard down on the boardwalk and just left it there, careless I judged, and the other 2 boys carried their skateboards as they walked together half way to the water, stopped and chatted for awhile. I wondered what they were talking about. They all came back and skated in front of me down the boardwalk. I hoped they were not going to continue... they didn't. They left and went down a way to skate. I was grateful. The toothless man came back riding a bicycle and commented on the beautiful perfect day, I agreed, and he rode away. I was grateful. I stayed for almost half hour, I didn't really want to leave, but I could tell, it was time to go home. I loved my day!! I did not think about any of my usual past, present, or future thoughts, or any agendas, I just sat and observed

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Desy, Phylameana lila. "Park Bench Meditation." ThoughtCo, Jul. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/park-bench-meditation-1731126. Desy, Phylameana lila. (2016, July 22). Park Bench Meditation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/park-bench-meditation-1731126 Desy, Phylameana lila. "Park Bench Meditation." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/park-bench-meditation-1731126 (accessed November 22, 2017).