When we practice mediation formally during a seated session the conditions are pretty much as near perfect as we can get them for a beginner. As soon as we move and go about our daily life we forget about the meditation and have difficulty taking the practice off the mat into our world. Meditation is really an act of mindfulness in whatever we do, even if it is the dishes or having an argument. The ultimate aim of meditation practice is that we can become so good at it that we can make it part of our life 24 hours a day, bridging the gap between the cushion and our life.
Here are some ways to take meditation off the cushion and into your world.
Pick a spot around 5 metres long. The idea is to walk to one end, pause for a minute, turn, pause for a minute, walk to the other end, pause and turn, etc. You must pay alot of attention to your micro momements. As you lift your right foot inhale as you place your foot down exhale, feel everything about your movement, make your feet become all important and the way the move flood your consciousness. Keep your eyes open but your focus soft. Use you breath with each move and feel each microcosmic part of each step. When you flood your brain with this activity you will have little room for incessant thought and mind chatter. Try this for around 5 minutes building up a little each day.
Our life is made up of a series of moments and some of them seem to be a waste of time. We don’t want to wait and sit, but waiting and sitting are part of life and a good chance to practice. If we view these gaps as a chance to practice, our attitude to them will soften. Next time you are in a traffic jam, in a queue at a supermarket, at the dentist, practice. Sit quietly, become aware of the space you are in, the sights, sounds and smells. Try the simple technique of breath awareness. ‘As I am breathing in I am aware that I am breathing in, as I am breathing out, I am aware I am breathing out’.
Every Day Activities:
Washing the dishes, house work, cleaning your teeth are prime practice periods. When you do the activity bring all your attention to what you are doing. If you are washing the dishes feel the warmth of the water, the soap on your hands. Watch with curiosity as the pots become clean and observe how you dry them. Use all your senses to engage in your task.
Every Day Movement:
One of my favourites in how to turn my gym work out into a meditation practice. When I am lifting weights or on the treadmill I try to co-ordinate the breath and movement. Inhale lift the weight, exhale release it. If I am running or moving faster I place all my attention on how I breath with the movement, observing and noting my breath and making it as fluid as I can. Breathing in and out through my nose, similar to my yoga asana practice. This way I can get two for one, every activity is just a yoga/meditation practice.
Slowing it all down:
One of the hardest for me is to move slowly and deliberately. My practice at the moment is trying to not vacuum my food but to take a bite and rest the fork in between. Other activities you can try are, brushing your teeth slowly, walking more slowly than you usually do, slowing your speech. Choose one that you know you always do quickly.
Practice for today: Choose one of the above and try it for a few moments. Try to incorporate more and more mindfulness/meditation techniques in your daily life. This way your life will slow down and you will become more an observer of it rather than getting caught up in day to day dramas.