Best Places on Earth to Meditate, Part One

Any meditator who lives life somewhat on the move becomes an expert in guerilla meditation. You learn to get down and dirty and meditate anywhere, anytime. A bench on a street corner, a restaurant booth, a cinema seat before showtime—we've all used them as twenty-minute refueling stations and they work just fine. Sometimes, though, you score an unexpected luxury spot.

Last week, after a month living and writing in New Mexico, I did a solo road trip around Southwestern Colorado. On the drive back south, I crossed the state line in the late afternoon, following Route 84 through massive fields of sage-green ranch land to sun-kissed bluffs of golden-red sandstone. It was time to meditate—but where to pull over?

That's when I saw what looked like a massive clamshell carved out of the rock walls that loom over the highway. A sign said "Echo Amphitheater." It's a natural phenomenon, a Hollywood Bowl-like structure of carved-out rock where, I'm guessing, Pueblo indians surely came to hoot, chant, and sing to the sky gods. I drove in as the last tourists of the day drove out. The sun was setting behind the rocks; the whole vast site was open and vulnerable in the way all natural sites are after the visitors leave and they can—sigh—have their space back again.

I took off my shoes and walked towards the concave dome, and what struck me was the silence. It was profound—dense and delicious. It was the dominant feature of the place. If the silence had been a color, it would have been red. Something obvious and unmissable. The acoustics of the rock wall made it so you could not avoid becoming quiet in yourself and falling into alignment with the environment.

I had a little hooting moment under the dome. "Love!" I blurted out and "! love! love!" came echoing back. "Thank you!" went my vocal chords and "...thank you! thank you! thank you!" came the boomerang response. Frank Gehry couldn't have done a better job of designing this thing: the reverb was terrific. I found a bench under the shadow of the dome, and as the "golden hour" flooded the landscape all around me, I did my evening meditation before finishing the drive back to my temporary home about an hour down the road, with its old friends and its puppies, goats, and starlight.
(Photo by Paul Chesley)