I believed that I was new to meditation when I attended the JMC beginner sit in January. I’d never concentrated on my breath, never sat with a group, never worked to quiet my mind. But the more I think about meditation, how easy it felt, how natural, the more I realize that I’m meditating every time I put words on a page. Writing – a meditation I practice most mindfully when I press the backspace key. When I write, I am thinking, at best, exclusively, about each word on the page. Letting background noises fall away from me, there is the clicking of my fingertips, the way the words appear on the screen, the way two phrases sound together, then with other sentences, the spaces I write in, and the ones that come when I have to allow my brain to catch up, to think.
Meditation feels to me like a catch-all word. I recognize and enjoy the specificity that it holds in a community of sitting, and I recognize and enjoy the vagueness that allows it to function as a word in our everyday reality: I am writing a meditation on meditation, right? How meta. In a city and a time where so much of my life requires movement, rushing, cutting myself off, I take enormous pleasure in the moments that I allow myself in front of the computer. This is the time I allow myself for slow and careful thought, for savoring my choice of words, for working through an issue, until it lifts like a knot from my back. This is one way that I understand mindfulness, to go deeply enough into a word to see how its letters inform it, how it fits in a sentence and how commanding the very sense of it can seem.
I prefer meditation, no capitals, because of the close asymmetry of the m and n. I like the peaks in the middle, which bring me back to the JMC, remembering: my breath! A peak, like a reminder, to move away from straying thoughts. Meditation, capital M, feels a little too forceful for its audience, doesn’t it? When we meditate, the verb, minus tion, we move away from the action, the process, the surroundings of meditate. We are alone with our breath, with our words on the page. Thinking through each word, allowing it to come, to become, to live and move through our bodies, our brains, our hands, and onto a palate that makes our purpose more clear to ourselves, and to those around us. This is why I write, why I sit, and the way that I work to understand the world and the people that surround me every day.
Erica Sklar is a writer living in New York City who moonlights as a librarian and a pre-vet student.
The views expressed by guestbloggers do not necessarily reflect the Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn’s positions, interests, strategies or opinions. But that’s what keeps it interesting.
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