“Lilyanna, Why do you meditate?”

Written by Lilyanna Landon, Video Coordinator, Team Maine

Churches intrigue me.  Something about the architecture, the ambiance, and the authenticity compiled into a place of community and worship…it gets to me. I’ve never gone to church on a regular basis. When I was younger I would go with my family on Christmas and Easter, but I didn’t have a set in stone church to call my own.

I started to meditate when I was in eighth grade. I used it as a coping mechanism; my sister was terminally ill and my brother was in Afghanistan. I didn’t meditate for any reason other than I needed a physical tool to relax because it hurt to breathe. Turns out, it was physiological… the inability to breathe. I do not have a routine or requirement for my meditation, I just find a quiet place and start to breathe slowly.

I find myself wondering what it would be like to walk into the same church doors every Sunday. The stability of a building to guide my spiritual growth is a luxury I cannot understand. I prefer to meditate outside, in the grass or in a garden. I feel closest to understanding my life on a spiritual level when I am meditating.

Last Sundays’ church service at The First Universalist Church in Rockland gave me this feeling once again. It was a small sanctuary with six or seven rows of benches and two rows of chairs in the front. There was a small stage area with a grand piano, a chalice, and an alter. The service was calming, with stories of Christopher Robin and Frank Lloyd Wright’s niece who writes children’s books. I was trying to relate these topics to my life: how I loved Winnie the Pooh… how I saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural sketches and 3D models in the Guggenheim Museum… I was lost— I didn’t see the connection.

It was about half way through the service when a woman started to play the piano. I had lost track of how the minister was writing a book about Wright’s niece or how Pooh bear getting stuck in the front door of Rabbits’ house was relevant to Wright’s residential architecture, pertaining to compression and release. All I heard was   “May I suggest, may I suggest to you, May I suggest this is the best part of your life.” I took a deep breath, and started to tear up. By the end of the song tears were casually sliding down my face. I did not feel ashamed for my tears or overwhelmed being the only one sitting in church crying. No, I was content.

The other day, Trevor asked me “Lilyanna, why do you meditate?” At first I gave him the typical reason, “ for the health benefits”.  Then I babbled about the different types of meditation, and that there are many reasons to meditate. The search for true enlightenment, to relieve oneself of everyday anxiety, the answers you would expect to hear. What I did not tell him was that I meditated to find peace. I repeat over and over again…”Inner Peace, inner peace, inner peace.” I meditate on inner peace, to find a way to be content in my everyday life. When I am in a sanctuary I find that I am content. It wasn’t until recently I had the realization that, that contentment…was peace.

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