Meditation and Solos | St. Lawrence University Adirondack Semester

Meditation and Solos

By: Jane Eifert
Nate Curtisbrown

This week was one of both unity and solitude.  We began the week with an Arcadian wedding.  Drawing roles from a hat, we dressed up as a wide variety of characters; from the Justice of the Peace to the crying baby to the creepy stepfather; all of the stereotypical wedding guests were present.  The ceremony was filled with drama and plenty of laughter.  After the ceremony, dinner festivities commenced with everyone continuing to play their roles.

Traditionally, laughter is a prominent sound heard throughout the Arcadian community, but as we began to explore the practice of meditation in our Knowing Nature class, we noticed that periods of silence allowed us to find peace.  The classroom environment is often dominated by left-brain activity, but we were challenged this week to focus our minds and practice being in the present moment.  Many of us found this exercise to be both relaxing and refreshing, as we explored different methods of meditation.  During one of these exercises, we each picked a sound that we would hear often in the village.  These sounds ranged from laughter to chirping birds to the dinner bell, and we called them “snips”.  Each time we would hear our snip, we would stop, notice, inhale, and bring ourselves back to the present moment.  We all discovered that this was a pleasant activity, and even the sounds of planes overhead became more tolerable.  We also practiced meditation by counting our breaths, allowing us to unify our mind and body by sitting with good posture and slowing our thoughts.

Over the weekend, we had time to reflect on the semester thus far. After time spent thinking in solitude through the practice of meditation, Arcadians were given the opportunity to spend some time alone during a two-day solo experience.  Many of us had not spent time away from the community since mid-semester break, and the solos provided some much needed alone time.  We picked spots along the shore of Massawepie, as well as along several of the other ponds.  Students set up tarps and tents as shelters, and during their time out, many practiced meditation, read books, and wrote in journals.  Some students opted to take on the added challenge of fasting during their solos.  Will decided to fast for both days during his time alone, and upon returning to Arcadia he told us how the experience gave him a greater appreciation for food.  He spoke about how lucky he feels to have hunger be an abnormal feeling for him, something that is not the case for many Americans and people all over the world.  For all of us, the solo experience made us realize how much we value the community here at Arcadia, and at the end of our time outside, we were all eager to return home.