Meditation in Action
Many of us would love to establish a regular meditation practice, but when we try to set time aside for it in our busy lives, it often just ends up being one more thing we have to do in our day that we never quite get around to. Or, for those of us who succeed in establishing the practice, we often finish our mediation and dive straight back into the demands of our day, carrying very little of our awareness with us. Instead of, or in addition to, sitting down for a meditation session, Meditation in Action involves treating life’s regular little chores and tasks as mini meditations. This allows busy people to incorporate meditation into the activities they are already doing, and naturally merges meditation with daily living, avoiding the compartmentalizing of mediation versus “my life”.
To practice Meditation in Action, you simply choose to be fully aware of what you are doing in the moment, rather than mechanically carrying out the task while your mind is somewhere else. In this way, you cultivate awareness and train yourself to live in the present moment. Here are some pointers to help you with your practice:
- Choose four to five activities that you do everyday, such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating a meal, washing up, or traveling to work. Pay full attention to that activity as it is happening. Feel the toothbrush on each tooth, feel your foot against the ground upon each step. Taste the food, feel its texture, hear your teeth as they grind. Don’t just rush through your routine. Be aware of each stage of the activity, take an interest in it, no matter how mundane.
- Thinking is not the enemy. In fact, its an incredible tool, as all of us have experienced. We can be aware of our thoughts just as we are aware of our outer world. The obstacle to overcome is when we get lost in compulsive thinking and forget the present moment. When this happens, just bring attention back when you realize you lost it.
- If you get really caught up in excessive thinking, try using a mantra to take back control. Repeat a chosen word or phrase over and over to anchor your mind on that one word, preventing it from writing a speech about your failings or a tragic novel about your future prospects.
Life is happening now, but our minds are constantly jumping between thoughts about the past and the future, never settling into the place where life actually is: the present moment. In this way, days and years can go by, and we miss out on our actual lives. On a deeper level, we are life, that very life that shines in this moment, but by living in the world of thoughts instead of the world of life we cut ourselves off from our natural joy, our natural home. Cultivating awareness day by day allows us to awaken from our mind-made delusions to the incredible joy of life in the moment, which is the truth of who we are.