Allow Your Creative Flow
Finding your own contemplative space in the center of New York
By Mariana Giraldo, Meiyu Huang, Jenny Sereeyothin and Deidre Washington
New York City is a multi-cultural and international mecca. Bursting with creativity and energy it can also lead to over-stimulation, creating a disconnect with one’s sense of clarity, concentration and calmness, all necessary for any creative process. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, meditation can be a means to reclaim one’s center.
Studies have shown meditation can be a powerful tool to awaken creativity. The practice can do more than produce a more relaxed state of mind. It can also “have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we experience events”. 
Learning how to meditate and reach a contemplative space within oneself requires patience and frequent practice. Rhonda Schaller, founder of the Meditation and Creativity Incubator at Pratt Institute, suggests the first step for one interested in taking up the practice, is to control the breath while utilizing mindful contemplation. Meditative breathing techniques involve consciously following the rhythm of one’s breath in and out. Mindful contemplation is the conscious observation and sensory perception of the surrounding environment, and one’s body and mind.
Schaller’s second suggestion for those beginning a meditative practice is to find spaces that provide certain spatial characteristics, which can help with one’s focus and awareness. Since mindful contemplation requires the conscious connection of all the senses, serene and beautiful spaces tend to be more conducive to this type of practice. Though finding such a space in the hustle and bustle of NYC may prove challenging, there do exist a number of wonderful urban getaways that might be a good place to begin your meditative practice:
Paley Park is a pocket park located in Midtown Manhattan. It was developed by Project for Public Places, a central hub of the global placemaking movement whose passion is for creating vital places. Paley Park is surrounded by high-rises and features a waterfall, which emits enough white noise to effectively block out the sounds of the city. Underneath the tall trees, which provide both sunlight and shade throughout the day, freestanding tables and chairs can be moved around according to the whim of the visitor.
The Egyptian Temple of Dendur is housed at the Metropolitan Museum in a quiet, sun drenched retreat with floor to ceiling windows to mimic the Nubian sunlight and “a reflecting pool in front of it and sloping wall behind it, represent the Nile and the cliffs of the original location”. 
Perhaps the most well known is Central Park, located in the heart of Manhattan. Its 843 acres, qualifies it as the largest park in NYC. Contained in its forest are bridges, flocks of migratory birds, and lakes providing an ideal location for meditation.
Since finding the opportunity to slip away to a park may prove challenging, there are other ways to achieve a state of mindfulness throughout your day. Through the focus on ones breath and contemplation, a beautiful space can be created within yourself. Simply close your eyes, follow your breath coming in and out your body, and imagine yourself in a peaceful place. This can be done on the subway, during your office break or even while walking down the street, focusing on the swaying of the train or the texture of the pavement and always, your breath.
Our daily routines can sometimes crowd our senses, making it difficult to absorb all that the city has to offer. But with the right tools, one’s ability to exercise their creativity does not have to suffer. Simply revisit the places you love in the city or new ones and experience them with all of your senses and without expectations. Or even better, create in your mind an alternate NYC; a beautiful place where ideas, design and innovation flow naturally, without any limitations, ego, or expectations.
Central Park Images by Sara Cedar Miller, official historian and photographer for the Central Park Conservancy, author of three award-winning books and a graduate of Pratt’s MFA in photography. www.saracedarmiller.com/SCM1/Home.html.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ About the Authors:
The authors are all accomplished professionals and current program participants entering their second year in Pratt’s Design Management, MPS:
Mariana Giraldo – Architecture
Meiyu Huang – Art History
Jenny Sereeyothin – Industrial Design
Deidre Washington – Environmental Design
 Universiteit Leiden, Meditation makes you more creative, Science Daily, April 19, 2012.
 Wikipedia, The Temple of Dendur.
DeSteno, D. The New York Times, The Morality of Meditation, July 5, 2013
Harrison, P. The Daily Meditation, Meditation for Creativity | How to be more creative through meditation, April 1, 2013
PBS Great Public Spaces