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Why you should consider meditating at an art museum


meditation nycAdd one more spot to the growing list of places—from meditation centers and yoga studios to Central Park and Governor’s Island—you can sit in stillness in New York City: an art museum.

Earlier this month, The Rubin Museum launched a weekly lunchtime Mindfulness Meditation series, and it joins a growing trend of museums and meditation teaming up to offer innovative inner-life programming.

The Parrish Art Museum in the Hamptons now hosts Meditation Mondays, The Frye in downtown Seattle offers weekly sessions, and Mindful Awareness classes at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles are super popular.

“It’s a place people go for learning, reflection, and contemplation anyway,” says leading Buddhist teacher and author Sharon Salzberg, who’s teaching many of the The Rubin’s classes. “We go to a museum to be brought deeper and to expand our horizons, so it’s a really intriguing place to have a meditation class.”

Salzberg says the art can be incorporated into the sessions, too, either by viewing it before meditating or by touring the galleries after, with a new quiet, open perspective.

And if you’re an artist yourself, the practice may even provide your work with an inspirational boost.

“It’s perhaps a particularly Western concept that great art comes from great suffering,” explains Salzberg. “Suffering may be the source of great art, but it’s the fact that someone is breaking free of conventional ways of seeing; suffering can sometimes do that…In the East, great art comes from enormous wisdom and balance of mind.”

In fact, the Rubin pulled together a fun list of famous artist-meditators, and several studies have suggested that meditation may increase creativity and a person’s openness to new ways of thinking.

So whether you appreciate a work of art in a new way, are inspired to create your own, or just finally think of a solution to that work issue that’s been bugging you, it’ll probably have been worth the 45 minutes. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.rubinmuseum.org

(Photo: The Rubin Museum)