As a failed casino owner enters America's highest office, and progressives commence a four year fight against his hard-right agenda, it's important to give your mind a respite from the drumbeat of bad news. You may find it difficult to clear your mind at times, but half the battle is finding the right place that will help you to do it. As written in “A Course in Miracles” (which may or may not have been published by a 1970s NYC parapsychological cult?), "There is a silence into which the world cannot intrude... There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost." Here are a few suggestions on where to harness that around New York, as we enter the era of President Gaslight.
Almost every museum is going to provide a quiet corner that you can tuck yourself into, provided it's not during peak tourist hours. But the Guggenheim is one of the more soothing spaces. Maybe it's the design, with its cathedral-esque rotunda, spiraling up towards the sky. You can go to any museum you want, and stand in front of whatever piece of art soothes you, but we recommend this one, and we recommend positioning yourself in front of a Rothko.
The artist might not have agreed with his inclusion here, as he pushed back against critics in the 1950s "who had described his paintings not as tragic or conflicted, but as calm, serene, soothing, and even soporific." Per the book Seeing Rothko, it's believed that he reacted poorly to this because he took their comments as criticism of his work being passive in some way, when in fact a deeper and more complex connection between his work and relaxation could be made. Anyway, if you find Rothko's paintings soothing, stare at one. Also: the CIA used them as a weapon during the Cold War.
Sometimes there is no place better to be than a New York City bench, a humble meditative perch. And there are so many to choose from: you've got the calming Whisper Bench in Central Park; the classic green Settee; the old school Rustic; the World's Fair Bench... settle in to one that no one else is sitting on, zone out, read, recharge, and soak up the city.
If you were very rich, chances are you would eventually ponder purchasing a boat. There is nothing more freeing than a boat, there is no vessel of escapism quite like it, and there's nowhere that you can clear your mind quite like you can at sea. As New Yorkers, we're lucky enough to have public boats in the form of ferries. Pick one! Our favorites are the Staten Island Ferry (once a beloved date spot for former Mayor Bloomberg), and the East River Ferry, where in the winter you can score that al fresco top deck all to yourself. Bundle up and ride your own melt, as Troy Dyer would say.
The New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are sanctuaries of serenity, and particularly powerful venues for clearing one's mind in an otherwise chaotic city. Even in winter. Coming up at the NYBG you'll find their annual Orchid Show, which is particularly beautiful—but either place, during any season, is perfect. Go sit with the flowers.
THE FLOATING PLACE
Sensory deprivation "is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses," and a very good way to erase your mind momentarily is to achieve this via floating in water. What did we learn from floatation? That in the tank the very thoughts that creep up when you first step in, "are exactly the reason why you need this relaxing experience."
The NYPL's majestic Rose Reading Room is now open to the public again, and there's no better place to be than surrounded by books during the era of Trump, who we hear cannot read. Find comfort in knowledge.