Big Apple, Calm City: NYC First Ever Mobile Meditation Studio Shows Up Outside 1010 WINS

Susan Richard
July 01, 2018 - 5:00 am

by Susan Richard (with additional reporting by Madison Fernandez and Rachel Krevans)
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) Can you find inner peace in a renovated 1976 RV? Kristin Westbrook would like you to give it a try.  Westbrook is the founder of Calm City, New York's first mobile meditation studio, which parks at various pop-up locations around the boroughs offering ten-minute guided meditations four times an hour at ten bucks a pop.
Westbrook discovered the power of meditation after she was diagnosed with breast cancer twice, at age 42 and then again two years later. She says her longtime meditation practice helped her cope with the stress of the unknown and enabled her to focus on healing. It also helped her navigate a high-stress job as a creative director in midtown. Yet she was frustrated that there was no place to go for a quick meditation break in the afternoon. "I wanted to create Superman's phone booth on every corner," says Westbrook, "because whether it's work, health or relationship unknowns, we all need a place to recharge and connect with our inner super powers to change our state of mind."
Cut to October 2016, when she purchased a 1976 RV and renovated it into what she describes as a "combination boutique meditation studio experience with the convenience of a food truck."

Watch Susan's video with Kristin Westbrook of Calm City NYC:

The RV was about to pull into what's become food truck row outside the 1010 WINS studios on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan when I spotted it on my way into work. I knew about it thanks to a Facebook post from my cousin who, like me, has turned to meditation to navigate the stresses of life and our 'monkey minds' (meditation lingo). 

I've been practicing for about a year following a painful life experience that I won't go into, but wasn't grounded in a consistent practice until I teamed with a friend of mine (who happens to work for The New York Times - shout out!).  We text a daily emoji after we "sit" (more meditation lingo).  She's all fancy with pretty flowers.  I send a plain old check mark. 

And I will tell you that it has helped, although, full disclosure, I've also been taking Buddhist meditation classes at various places around town including MNDFL, NY Insight and the Community Meditation Center, and have read a ton of books by authors including Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chödrön, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Lodro Rinzler, Susan Piver and fellow newsperson Dan Harris.  So basically, I'm really into this.  

But as any of these teachers will tell you, you don't need to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness, and even those teachings are non-theistic.  I like what Lodro Rinzler said when he described meditation as "learning to befriend oneself."
So, back to the RV.  I spotted the logo on the side and immediately ran over to see how long it would be there.  Turns out it was only until 3 p.m. and I'm on the air until 4, so no RV meditation for me that day.  But I know a cool story when I see it, and I was happy to flip into reporter mode for the cause.  I ended up being late to work, but my bosses (1010 WINS News Director Ben Mevorach and Assistant News Director Ivan Lee) also know a cool story when they see it, and they dispatched other folks to go get a proper interview.  The result is the little video above.  Enjoy, and sorry for my shaky cellphone camera work.

In addition to pop-up locations announced on their website (link HERE) and social media (FB link HERE), Calm City also customizes programs for non-profit and corporate clients, pulling up outside the workplace where employees can hop on board.  I look forward to doing just that.  Maybe I'll see you, too.