The River of Language

via Ken Thomas, public domain

Occasionally I like to meditate by the river Danube, if not on the river Danube. Contemplating how our name for the body of water is so insufficient. The thing we call the ‘Danube’ is not the same body of water it was yesterday, or even a moment ago. So constantly depleted and replenished, it’s forever in a state of change, yet always remains in name, if not in essence, the Danube.

Words, like ‘river’ and ‘Danube’ are only signposts to the realities they represent. Take ‘anger.’ Is anger physical, conceptual, are there stages of anger; is there such a thing as positive anger? By any perspective, anger a multi-dimensional, complex emotion reduced to a cypher of a word. Or take the word ‘self.’ What exactly does that signify?

In this exercise, simply write a word on a piece of paper. Any word. Contemplate the word versus what it represents. What’s the difference? How stagnant is the word, but how changeable is the concept? Like the Danube, is it fluid, existing in a constant state of change? And how does the mind accommodate for that?

Have a look here for more mindfulness exercises.

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