It all started on a school trip to Toronto. I’d started davening every morning since the summer and I wanted to continue this on my school trip. As I contemplated how to explain davening to my non-Jewish friends, I asked my mom how to approach this situation.
“Tell them that it’s just your form of daily meditation,” she said.
With that in mind, each day of the trip I went out onto our hotel balcony and daven shacharit to myself.
“Woah, I should start doing that every day,” one friend said. “That’s such a nice idea,” exclaimed another. It felt weird at first, but I learned to embrace it rather than feel different than my friends.
However, it actually wasn’t on that trip that I learned how to use davening as not only a form of prayer, but also mindfulness and meditation. This summer at camp, I had the opportunity to go on a four-day trip in Algonquin National Park in Canada where I was completely enveloped in wilderness.
One day as we canoed across a lake, I talked to my friend about the bullet journal I keep. I tried to journal every day during this trip because it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I wanted to remember forever. I liked to write about my experiences of doing regular everyday things, but routine is extremely different on a trip like this. Eventually, we started chatting about the power of davening in the wilderness. While we usually daven every day at camp, it’s different when it’s just you, the trees and your siddur; it is really a davening like no other. My friend revealed that although he did not usually like davening regularly, he liked davening in Algonquin because it was more of a form of meditation.
I daven because I like to pray, but I did not realize that it was a form of meditation and mindfulness for other people. After this revelation, I davened differently in Algonquin. My counselor told us to l split up and daven the Amidah isolated. It was spiritually uplifting to have nothing surrounding you but the wonders of nature, and that was when I truly realized how beneficial meditation can be.
Whether you’re in Toronto or Algonquin, meditation can be a crucial focal point of your life. As a student, meditation has been proven to increase productivity by 120 percent. Meditation has the power to improve everyday habits.
While davening isn’t the only form of meditation, it is what works for me. Davening every morning gives me time to relax, figure out what my goals are for the day and reflect.
Ada Perlman is a sophomore at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.