How I Overcame My Fear of Meditation

I once had a roommate, Simon, who would disappear into his room for several hours each day—not to watch movies, play video games, or even read, but to meditate. On Saturdays, he would drive across the bridge to New Jersey to study with his guru, who practiced an ancient Taoist discipline from South Korea known as SunDo. It seeks to bring devotees to enlightenment via meditation, realized by performing deep breathing exercises in seated, standing, and reclining postures. The connection of the breath and the brain, according to the SunDo tradition, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and in this way induces a more relaxed state of mind.

I admired Simon’s dedication to his practice largely from afar, inquiring only minimally on how it felt to sit for hours on end, sometimes audibly breathing and humming. To ask seemed like a breach of personal space, and frankly, the concept made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

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