Clarkie of the Week: Anna Liebling

Anna Liebling
Anna Liebling

By Anna Spack 
scarlet staff

Anna Liebling is a First Year at Clark from Philadelphia who plans to major in Peace Studies with a concentration in Race & Ethnic Relations. She is involved in many activities around campus, including a club she helped start called

Operation Meditation (OM). She is also the co-founder of the “Anna handshake” and an all-around awesome person. I interviewed Anna about OM and about the other cool stuff she does.

Scarlet: Can you describe what “Operation Meditation” is and what it’s all about?

Anna: Well, at the very beginning of the first semester, Savannah Cooley [another First Year] and I had a discussion about how much we liked to meditate. We decided that we should make a meditation club… so we did. The club is basically for anyone who wants to meditate – we just believe that meditation is really healthy and important and essential for well-being. We knew other people believed that here, and we wanted to make an open space for anyone to come and meditate. I’ve talked to people [at Clark] who say, “I want to meditate but there’s no motivation for me to do it because no one else is doing it.” So we wanted a place where everyone would come together to meditate, because the powers of meditation are infinite.

Scarlet: What are those benefits or powers of meditation?

Anna: Well first of all, it helps with a lot of health issues, anything from concentration to asthma. Meditation helps you control your mind and [as a result] you really reap a lot of health benefits. You’re also calmer, more aware, and less willing to enter conflicts with other people. You’re just more chill, basically. You’re also happier; it helps with depression and bad moods. When you understand that external things don’t have to control your mood and your emotions, and that you can control them with your mind, then that’s the key to everything.

Scarlet: How did you first get into meditation?

Anna: Well my parents meditate every morning. Then I went to India for three months [with my parents and brother], and we went to a lot of monasteries and stuff. I didn’t really meditate when I was in India because I was only fourteen, but after I came home from India I realized how cool it was that I had been there, and that’s when I started [meditating]. So I guess junior year of high school, maybe. But I feel like I’ve always known that I’ve liked it [because I grew up with it]. I just didn’t start meditating for myself until high school.

Scarlet: Why did you go to India?

Anna: Well the first time I went was with my family. I went the whole summer, for three months. My parents wanted my brother and I to experience a culture that was different than the culture we’re from because they wanted to show us that our luxurious American life wasn’t all there was, and that there are different places. The second time I went to India was last year. I went with my gap year program called Kivunim (which means “new directions” in Hebrew). We traveled all over the world; we went to eleven different countries and we lived in Israel. (It was fricken awesome.) India was my favorite place we went, especially because I knew what to expect more than anyone else since I was the only one on the trip who had been there already. People tend to have idealistic views of India, and it’s not what you would expect (there’s a lot of poverty), but it’s still such a beautiful place. When I went the second time I really loved it. I basically cried when we left. I did not want to leave, especially because I felt that I hadn’t appreciated it enough the first time I went since I was a little teenage girl. But the second time I went I tried to really take it all in and I think I really did. I miss it a lot.

Scarlet: Do you think you’ll go back?

Anna: Definitely.

Scarlet: What are the meetings for OM going to be like?

Anna: Well we don’t know what days the meetings are yet because people are still filling out the Doodle Poll [to see which day works best for everyone]. But we’re going to have two meetings a week, one’s going to be guided meditation and one’s going to be silent. The silent one is just where you come in, we maybe take three breaths together, and we have a timer on and you just silently meditate on your own for however long. It’s usually not that long: less than 20 minutes. For the guided ones, anyone who wants to guide can tell us they want to guide. Savannah and I started the club, but we don’t want to be the only leaders. We want everyone to have input in the club. So as of now that’s all I know about what happens in the meetings, but it could always change because I want it to be what everyone wants and not just what Savannah and I want. For the guided ones anyone can lead and they can lead any type of meditation they know, anything they feel. It’s basically just like meditating in your head but saying it out loud. People do compassion meditations, or calming meditations, or relaxing meditations – all different kinds. I’m hoping that through the different types of guided ones people will be exposed to different types of meditations, and if that’s not happening then Savannah and I will make more of an effort to expose people.

Scarlet: Are you involved in any other activities on campus? If so, what?

Anna: Yeah! I’m part of All Kinds of Girls, which is really awesome and fun. The girls who go are just so great; they’re from 9 to 12 years old. They’re really adorable and hilarious. Every week is a different theme where we try to teach them something through fun activities. This Saturday is going to be Health and Food day, so like we’ll do like a rap about vegetables and everyone will have to write a rap. It’s fun things like that. Last week was the first week back so it was “Crazy Fun Day” and we had ice cream for breakfast.

I also go to the BSU meetings, which is a shocker, but just because I’m white doesn’t mean I can’t go! I really, really like going to those meetings. And then I’m also a part of Activists United, which is a networking club for people who want to do activist work in the community and at Clark. We also do our own activism; we made a zine last semester and we’re making another issue this semester. It’s really fun, and I really like the people in that group because everyone is like-minded in the belief that you have to act to change the world.

Scarlet: What else do you like to do in your spare time? Any hobbies?

Anna: I like photography and writing.

Scarlet: Is there anything else you want to add?

Anna: If you want to come to the OM meetings, totally come. Just email [email protected] and tell me that you want to join the club! Also, everyone have a great day. Now let’s do our Anna handshake.

Thanks for the interview, Anna! 

Annas rule!