while(self++) { #52 } // Why Meditate?

I’m no expert. I don’t have an answer. And I’m sure that there is a great deal of thoughtful literature on the subject, spanning all kinds of different practices, that can articulate the purpose and benefits better than I ever will. All I can relate is my lived experience.

Yesterday, a friend invited me to a group meditation called Connections at Balanced. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I like to try different things from time to time, and it seemed like a great way to wind down after a stressful few weeks. We started with a 20 minute quiet meditation period, guided to focus on our breathing. The sounds of the city wailed outside. Pipes knocked against the walls. I remember someone telling me that meditation is not the same as thinking about nothing. Instead, it’s about being aware of your wandering thoughts and focusing back on something else, like breathing. But I’m sure there are different schools of thought on this.

We then framed the next activity with a prompt (“there’s no right way”) and read a piece relating to it. We grouped into threes; each person had two minutes of uninterrupted time to speak—about the prompt or about anything else—and the other two listened intently. It’s always interesting to hear people speak about their thoughts; people are so complex. We don’t give one another enough credit after first impressions. I listened carefully and challenged myself to remember precisely what they said. I almost wanted to devote my full two minutes to ruminating about their reflections.

Afterwards, we brought our thoughts to the whole group. We could talk about anything related to the prompt or about something that was plaguing us. There were a lot of heartfelt emotions expressed and personal subjects touched. It was heartening to share the experience with everyone. It was a nice pause from the day to day. It helped clear my head and opened it up to new thoughts.

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