I recently bought a spinning top, in honor of the fact that the IRS collected too much money from my salary and thus sent some of it back.

It’s a vertical wheel with double pedals that you can fold up and pack in a backpack to go on any trip I can take.

When I bought the wheel, I also purchased a moderate amount of fiber, which has since (about 2 weeks) turned into bulky, poorly twisted yarn, which I will then anger my spokes.

You may ask why I bought such a thing. After that you may wonder why I spend so much time spinning yarn. Well, the immediate answer to the second question is: I spent a lot of money and I refuse to see that money disappear.

But the real answer to both questions is much more difficult. It has to do with meditation.

I am a big fan of meditation. I usually meditate in a half-sleep. With my bright pink earplugs, I am immersed in a world of silence that cannot be interrupted by throwing a cat or turning the engines outside my window. At this time, strange thoughts come, mostly stencils for columns or scattered sketches of characters for the next “Great American Novel.” (I think we all write one. I have a lot of funny characters, but no plot.)

But the meditation I get during a nap is not “real” meditation, at least according to meditation experts. In meditation a person must allow his mind to be completely empty. Thoughts may come unsolicited, but the meaning of meditation is to think as little as possible and just “be”. So I have to come up with something during which my mind can focus on thoughtlessness. If it makes any sense.

I have been practicing yoga for about six years. Thanks to the influence of two wonderful local instructors and a subscription to a yoga magazine from my best friend, I settled on a practice that should be daily but happens at least weekly.

Yoga is a wonderful meditative tool. It is a physically strenuous art form developed by generations of Hindu yogis and encompasses a range of philosophies and styles. The fact is that while I do yoga, my brain has to focus on yoga. I move or move from position to position, focusing on alignment and on how my body and joints feel.

I can compare well-done yoga to physical liberation. Yoga shouldn’t hurt, and after a good workout I feel refreshed and refreshed. I can also honestly say that during the exercises my mind was empty and so I was in a meditative state. At the end of each workout there is even time set aside for a special pose, savasana, which, although not recommended by everyone for meditation, works for me.

But I wanted more. I’ve heard that spinning yarn can be meditative, but I found it hard to believe that assessment. Every time I tried to spin in the past, it was hard work. My back hurt. I had a headache from too much concentration on fiber. My yarn looked awful, was tangled and unusable.

However, I’ve heard all along that so many people praise the relaxing (and creative) benefits of using a spinning top that I’ve had to try. Luckily, I didn’t run right away and buy a bike. Rather, I tried a couple of turns on a friend’s wheel and did a lot of research before making a purchase.

This is probably one of the best purchases I have ever made. The wheel is perfect … just the right height and level of service needed by a beginner. It spins easily and quickly and creates a smooth thread.

I put it in my living room (although I move it to another bedroom at night so the cat doesn’t get in the way). While in the living room, I can position the steering wheel so that I can watch TV or listen to the radio while using it.

And guess what? Spinning has become meditative. I find that I am passionate about the show, and my hands move back and forth around my waist, creating a yarn in a rhythmic shape. A couple of nights ago I looked at the end of my program and saw that there lay a spool of yarn!

I hope this lasts. A lot of fiber comes to me in the mail.

Jess Haynes is the editor of the Gettysburg Times articles.

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