This morning I hopped on the subway heading downtown. When I got off I walked crosstown to a well-known Manhattan meditation center where public meditation sittings are scheduled on Sundays from 9 AM to 12 Noon. I used to go to this institute often a few years ago, but I stopped, I really don’t know why. Meditating today was special to me for two reasons; one, the sitting was led by my best friend, who had continued meditating at the institute after I had stopped and reached very high levels in her training, and two, I had not meditated for a long time. I was looking forward to this. When I entered the space, people (perhaps ten or so) were walking quietly in a circle. I joined them, walking. Then we all sat down. At first, I didn’t remember that I needed to focus on my breathing, external sounds were distracting me. And, now and then, I peeked over at my friend sitting on a little raised area in front of us; I was so proud of her for doing this, it was an incredible achievement that had required a lot of discipline. Then I caught myself. I closed my eyes, focusing on breathing in and out, gently pushing intrusive thoughts away. I was with it; my mind was clear and my heart was open. We walked again in silence. And then we sat down. Breathing. There is something very fundamental about sitting in a room meditating with a group of other people that one does not know. They are strangers and one is aware of their presence and also not. We meet in this room, we spend time together and then we leave. Not a word is spoken. It is the essence of peacefulness.