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  • Writer's pictureAlison Conigliaro-Hubbard

The Power of Presence: Mindful Observations in the Big Apple

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

As the taxi stopped in traffic on Chamber’s Street in downtown Manhattan en route to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, I couldn’t help but feel the soulfulness and sense of connection to the history of New York City, and also my own history speeding by foot on this and other streets close by.

On my visit last week to New York, my nephew and I were headed to the Brooklyn Bridge by yellow cab. We knew it would be a lot of walking that day, so we started with a drive down the West Side Highway and through the Wall Street area. When I was 17 and 18 years old, I spent my summers commuting into the city by way of the PATH train, working like my parents did in one of the securities firms on The Street.

Commuting from work, walking between South Street Seaport where my office was, and the World Trade Center, was a fast-paced race to make sure I hit the right train to Hoboken and ultimately, the New Jersey Transit train back to Chatham in good time.

It was one of the many layers of my life from which I learned and grew, but it wasn’t until this mindful moment in the taxi that I felt such a strong connection to the life and history of the area. I stared out the cab window up at the ancient red and white brick buildings with black lattices of fire escapes, and thought to myself, ‘how beautiful’. I'm sure I had never thought this before. In fact, I was sure that in earlier decades I raced by in my sneakers and teenage, 80s-version of a business suit, with only a focus on my destination, never to notice or give thought to the life above me; certainly not the history.

I read there was a mansion on this street in the late 1700s that was owned by a formidable physician who attended to Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr after their duel in 1804. In the 1850s, the mansion was torn down to become one of the first high-end lofts in New York City. The street became a hub of early industry, with garment, sporting goods and other manufacturing businesses bringing life to East Coast commerce. And these are the very buildings I was looking at out the window of the taxi.

Of course, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the steel beams of the World Trade Center and the many times I came up and down the long escalators, wondering about the happenings at Trinity Church nearby in the early days of the country, and exploring the old ships parked in the seaport with my mom and dad before the gentrification - the penetrating scent of just-caught fish filling the air.

What a fulfilling moment. To see and smell and feel the beauty in something I may have taken for granted in many ways. A layer of life came alive again sitting in that taxi, and awakened my senses, as I sat with my nephew - now the same age as I was when I raced through those streets to and from my Summer job. This is the light of LIFE we experience through MINDFULNESS, and being PRESENT in the moment.

Just a little story that was meaningful to me - but I hope one that shares the power of what can be possible when we slow down and get present with the world around us.

What was a mindful moment that spoke to your senses? How can mindfulness impact the way we experience life and the way we interact with people? How even, can it impact our results?

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