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 the cushion 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.
We often see these things as impediments to practice. In fact an interesting thing is that a lot of people fall into the habit of using the word “practice” as a shorthand for “meditation practice.” So they’ll say things like, “My practice is going very well. I’ve been sitting every day.” And this implies that the rest of our lives is “not practice.” But in fact, 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’ ungraspability.
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.
This section of the site will develop into an extensive guide to applying the principles of meditation to your daily activities.
We’ve started with a section on bringing Metta (lovingkindness) into your everyday life, and more information on mindfulness. Soon, we’ll add other tools to help you live with more awareness.