Meditation as part of daily life
Meditation is not something that we just do for 20 or 40 minutes every morning and then forget about.
Meditation involves a principle of awareness that you can practice in every moment of your life.
While the time that we spend on just sitting around most definitely has an effect on the quality of our emotional and mental life in the rest of the day, making an effort to practice mindfulness during so-called “ordinary” activities such as working, driving, doing housework, and spending time with our friends and families is a very powerful practice.
Anything we do can be part of our practice, which I’d broadly define as the ongoing effort to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and an awareness of things.
So we can use eating as a practice. We can use driving as a practice. We can use showering, or shaving, or taking a leak as a practice.
No matter what we’re doing, we can always be more mindful when we’re doing it. No matter what we’re doing, we can always be kinder and more compassionate; even when we’re on our own, we can be kind with ourselves, or show an attitude of kindness and care in the way we handle objects. And we can always — always! — recognize when we’re hoping on in some way to feelings, to anticipated outcomes, to thoughts and learn to let go.
Living mindfully in this way is incredibly enriching. It helps prevent the arising of unpleasant states of mind such as stress and depression, and it also helps us to live with freedom, dignity, and with respect for ourselves and others.
Living with mindfulness brings us into the field ethics, of talking about how best we can live our lives. But it also is a way of living meditatively.
Meditation is so much easier than most people think—because as long as you are aware of what is going on and you are able to remain in the state of non-distraction, then whatever you experience is actually meditation.
For example, as you walk down the street, you can bring your attention to your surroundings. Look at the people you pass, the buildings, the cars, the flowers or trees.
Don’t indulge in judgmental commentaries about whoever or whatever you see, but simply allow your mind to be purely aware of the objects that you encounter.
When you bring pure awareness to your activities like this, then distraction and worry will gradually disappear and your mind will settle and become more calm and peaceful.
So when you finally do arrive at your destination, you’ll be in a much more relaxed and open frame of mind to deal with whatever comes next.
Stability and confidence
Another benefit of simply observing your perceptions in this way is that you will find yourself getting far less emotionally involved in what you perceive.
Also, whatever you are doing, cultivating the mindfulness and awareness of meditation practice will help you to be more efficient and accomplish more, with less effort and less stress.
And the simplicity, spaciousness and courage you can find through meditation will help you to avoid being overwhelmed by work or burning out.
It will also bring you a certain stability, a certain confidence, with which you can face life and the complexity of the world with carefree dignity, with composure and ease.