June 5, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 70°F


Figure of Soul: Meditating out of modernity

My friend recently showed me a quote she found on the internet: “Ships sink because of the holes water gets through. Do not let what is happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” She then asked me, “How is it possible to maintain such a meditative state that you protect your freedom from everything, even yourself? There are so many distractions now in our lives trying to steal our attention and interrupt the life we want to live, starting from money, social media and this whole society. Could it be possible?” 

 I thought about it for a week. Before all the insanity social media created, human beings used to move, wonder and breathe! Yes, breathe! Around 1.8 million years ago, we used to fight, flee or freeze. We used to feel safe just by looking at the burning fire. We used to wonder about different colors and strengths of the world — flowers, sunsets, oceans, animals, mountains and the moon!

We were always so alert and watchful about sounds, smells, tastes and surroundings. We observed nature to learn about the world. We used all of our senses to the fullest. It seems like we used to be constantly meditating. Human beings were aware of the fact that this “routine” breathing would stop at any moment. They never took anything for granted. Our life was free of everything. I am assuming we were the happiest at that time despite the challenges. 

However, nowadays, it has become hard to meditate “all the time” in a world that is supposed to be better than before. It is alarming to note that the youth — members of the millennial and Generation Z generations born after or during the creation of the technological tools to boost human efficiency — are more likely to be burned out than members of older generations, who predate digital technologies. Reading this, do you think meditation is possible for us? It must be. How, though? 

The lifestyle described earlier is encoded in us. So, my suggestion would be to pick up some habits from our ancestry to balance our current life routine. The root “med” in meditation could be interpreted as “healing or “to ponder about the medium:” The medium between life and death. Meditation brings peace and it heals us. While we are running for our social roles and statuses, we could also include meditation to heal from those activities that wear us out once in a while. Go out! Be in nature! Go for a hike! Look at the moon, the sun and the stars! Hug a tree! Run! Read! Cook for yourself and your loved ones! Breathe! Meditate! And when you master that, you may realize you are already meditating the whole time, even when you are studying and working. 

Our life should be a meditation being breathed in oceanic waves — not attached to the ups or downs or even the middle. Meditating is feeling and observing all of these waves when they come, not judging them for arriving and letting them go when it is time without attachments. Meditation is like embracing the flow of life the way it is and the first thing to learn how to do so is “Be in nature!” In other words, by practicing meditation, we can avoid the pitfalls of clinging too tightly to the good times or becoming overwhelmed by difficult times. Instead, we can learn to ride the waves of life with gratitude, observing each experience as it arises and letting it go when the time is right.

This practice of non-attachment does not mean that we should become detached from the world around us. Rather, it is about embracing life fully while recognizing that everything is impermanent and subject to change. As a result, we can enjoy the beauty of each wave as it comes and goes. 

I would love to end this column with our dear author Rupi Kaur’s poem:

                             “I will never have 

this version of me again

let me slow down 

and be with her.”


FIGURE OF SOUL is a column written by first-year psychology major Ninjin Tumurbat (she/her) that analyzes metaphors. Contact her at ntumurbat@ithaca.edu.