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Finding Inner Peace While You’re Underground

The cold months have descended and the holiday season is here, so it’s time to seek out hygge — the Danish termWinter refuge and spiritual warmth, which were in high demand during an international moment of trendiness around 2016. But what if you’re a New Yorker and spend two hours a day on the subway? You’re in luck, as a subway ride is actually the perfect activity to get yourself into that congenial holiday mood. A train is actually a large sled which travels underground in darkness.

But can a commute — or any stressful holiday travel — really be cozy? It is possible to adapt your approach.

Hygge is about feeling comfortable and secure. (It’s “HOO-guh,” I’ve learned, though I’m partial to the incorrect but popular “higgy.”) “The Book of Hygge” calls the concept “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life” — the ideal practice for finding inner comfort amid the very real life of the New York subway. Hygge’s foundational element is getting. Layering up is a great way to look stylishly bundled. And not just in sweaters, scarves, kerchief and cap — a cozy N95 mask, or threeThis can be the perfect cozy addition to your contemporary winter wardrobe.

The hyggelig moodThe right food and drink is also important: something rich, spicy, and sensuous. You should bring a thermos of eggnog to enjoy while you are being seduced by the M.T.A.’s hypnotic overhead videos of cooking. Get started now plays on station screens.

According to some reports, the average Danish citizen burns his way to hygge in pursuit of it. 13 pounds of candle wax per year. Unfortunately, you can’t burn your own candles on the subway, since you probably shouldn’t add to the pandemic’s 40 percent increase in subway fires. Instead, you can rely on the fact that impromptu carolling is a great way to create ambience not unheard-of on New York subways. You might, at the most, catch “Symphonie Fantastique” or Pop Smoke leaking from your neighbor’s iPhone.

You can transform mundane travel into a place of hygge mindfulness with the right attitude. The ride will eventually come to an end. But for now, you are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher’s warm embrace.

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