Making Mindfulness Part of Life
This question came up on my Quora feed, so I thought I’d share it to this blog because I think it’s an important aspect of meditation practice:
“How should the practice of meditation become a part of life?”
And my reply?
Do it every day – same time each day. Doesn’t have to be a full hour, or half hour – if you’ve only got ten minutes – then meditate for that ten minutes. Just mark the spot, so your mind and body get to know, ‘this is the time we meditate’
The mind and body respond to routine. So if you sit down at the same time each day, on an unconscious level, they’ll be ready for meditation and you’ll slip into it easily.
The other thing that supports meditation is a constant practice of mindfulness.
Essentially, mindfulness is meditation in motion. Consider what we’re doing when we meditate. We sit down, close our eyes, and pay attention to the breath, following the movement of our belly as we breathe.
This anchors our attention to the present moment.
With our attention fixed in each moment, we notice when it gets distracted by something else – which then gives us the opportunity to adjust the way it behaves – that is, to let go of that distraction and return to the breath.
Mindfulness practice is similar.
Difference being, the main object is whatever we’re doing as we’re doing it.
When we practice mindfulness, rather than leave our actions to the robotic machinery of our habits, we practice being aware of what we’re paying attention to, and the habits that are in play, as if we’re learning the actions all over again. In this way we can adjust whatever actions we’re making, and help change the habits behind them.
Basically, mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime – while waiting for a train, walking to the shops, mowing the lawn, cooking, driving – anything done mindfully is good practice.
And there’s a reciprocal relationship between meditation and mindfulness – that being, the more we meditate, the easier it becomes to practice mindfulness in our daily life. And the more mindful we become, the easier meditation becomes.
‘BEING STILL – MEDITATION THAT MAKES SENSE’, Roger’s new book, is available now.
(The audiobook includes all the exercises, as well as ebooks of Being Still, to fit any device.)