Ever since I entered the chapel in Hammerman for Zen Meditation that Tuesday afternoon, I became a different person. “The Birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, by William Wordsworth all relate to the meditation. Meditation was a new experience for me and I was not sure if I would be the only oblivious student in the room. As I followed directions to bow and keep my posture correctly, I started to feel different inside in those fifteen minutes. Those fifteen minutes that we actually meditated, I felt as if I was in a different world where everything felt perfect. After reading each story, I grew in confidence and serenity.
In “The Birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the brilliant scientist, Aylmer, is married to a woman named Georgiana, who many considered the epitome of beauty. She has a small birthmark on her left cheek. Many consider this her “charm”. However, Aylmer believes that this birthmark is nothing but a flaw. He continuously criticizes Georgiana and tries to convince her to get the birthmark removed. After a while, what Georgiana once saw as her charm, she now sees as her largest imperfection. Aylmer was able to tear down Georgiana’s confidence and made her feel like what once made her unique really was her greatest defect. Prior to my meditation, I felt insecure and vulnerable, likewise Georgiana felt after the excessive criticism from Aylmer. However, during my meditation, I was able to discover that my flaws were what made me unique. Similarly, to Georgiana in the beginning of the story, after my meditation, I accepted my “imperfections” and realized they were what made me a strong and unique individual.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a wife, who is the narrator, and her husband, who is also her physician, go to stay in a secluded summer home in the woods. It is here that her husband decides to attempt to treat her for her depression. As part of the treatment, he locks her in a room with yellow wallpaper. Throughout this treatment, the narrator keeps a secret journal. Day after day, the narrator writes about her infatuation with the yellow wallpaper. As the treatment progresses, she begins to see woman trapped behind bars in the design of the yellow wallpaper. She then discovers that it is herself that is trapped behind the bars of the wallpaper. Finally, she destroys the wallpaper in an attempt to free herself and the woman behind bars. Although it was against her will being in the yellow room gave the narrator time to meditate. She was able to see that through her life she was suppressed by her husband. Although she went insane, she was able to free herself from the restriction from the society and her husband. Through my meditation, I was able to realize that there were certain people in my life that were holding me back and I needed to break free from their control. Once I broke free, I had a new sense of self.
In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, by William Wordsworth, the narrator is in an area in the upmost serenity and beauty. As he takes in the beauty of the nature that surrounds him, it seems he may never find a place as calm and stunning as the setting he finds himself in now. Whenever the narrator becomes upset, he takes himself back to this happy place. This is the perfect example of what I experienced when I meditated. A sense of calmness surrounded me and I was able to discover what my happy place is. Personally, my homeland Macedonia is the place I go to in my mind when I am feeling low. When I find my happy place, I am able to forget all the difficulties that I am dealing with and focus on what is really important, much like the narrator in the story.
When reading all three stories, I was able to relate my personal meditation experience with what each character was experiencing. Whether it was with Georgiana in “The Birthmark”, and her confidence issues, or the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, in her sense of feeling trapped or even with the narrator in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, when he found his happy place, I was able to see myself a little bit in each character. Between the meditation and the stories this experience was life changing for me.