Before sunrise this morning, after maybe two hours of sleep on a red-eye flight, I had the honor of recommitting to my meditation practice in the atrium of the Atlanta airport. All the chairs had been corralled by uncomfortable sleepers, and the “Interfaith Chapel” appeared to be closed for renovations, so I just plopped my bags down on a bench in the center, sat down next to them, closed my eyes, and tried to do my thing.

I considered headphones. I could have used white noise like I did on the flight, or I could have tried guided meditations from buddhify, which I have bought but am yet to try (remind me to write about meditation apps another time). Instead, I opted to just be with the sounds of the airport waking up. It was a poignant experience of what it means to be “passing through.”

I only sat for seven minutes all told, but it surprised me how much this practice felt like the real deal. I couldn’t go as deep as I can in a long, uninterrupted stretch on my cushion, but I realized the good stuff isn’t always that deep down. Airports are sites of real stress and anxiety. I usually spend my time in them huffing and puffing and struggling to get through it. It was surprisingly healing just to sit and be calm in the middle of the airport. It feels like I loosened up about it in a way I’ll remember on my return leg.