Zen Spot #76 -- Mindfulness, meditation and a tunnel beneath the train tracks February 5, 2018 00:05
It will remain unnamed except to say that it is one of over 150 local train stops in the Philadelphia area. Each provides a bridge or a tunnel to cross the tracks -- mostly tunnels.
Fifteen stations receive passengers for trips beyond the region, leaving for New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Florida and more. The longer range trains are ground-pounding behemoths that, in some cases, reach over 100 mph.
Descending into quiet and whistles
The tunnels have hard walls, ceramic tile or brick. Concrete stairs. No matter the season, each tunnel offers complete stillness. Often, there is a reversal of the weather above. In summer, the tunnels feel cooler. In the winter, warmer. Surprisingly silent inside, despite the way sound bounces off tile, each tunnel is an austere eight second refuge that produces an understated whistle on the windiest of days.
Underneath the violence and unquiet
You can hear a locomotive when it is thirty seconds away. The apocalypse barreling. Fifteen seconds out, you can feel the ground start to shake. As it passes, the fight or flight response tickles one’s animal interior.
Eight seconds of earthquake
Sitting in the tunnel when a train passes offers an unusual path to mindfulness. Or, perhaps, it is a precise metaphor. One can feel the experience taking effect. Inside the experience one’s mind is completely focused and, as the train disappears into the distance, one’s mind slowly returns to it’s full and upright position.
The Middle Way
I took the photo above on a beautiful, searing August day. The tunnel was a respite. I was outbound. My mother was waiting for a visit. Time was abundant.
Sitting on the cool concrete floor, halfway between the entrance points, I closed my eyes, breathed and waited for the apocalypse. It arrived and never arrived at precisely the same moment. It faded in and faded out. In between, the clarity was amazing.
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