Anything we do can be a meditation.
Having a cup of tea. Sitting on the toilet. Petting our dog. All of these could act as a form meditation, as long as we bring awareness to what we’re doing.
For me, meditation implies connecting with who we are—and that doesn’t just mean sitting in a certain position with our eyes closed for an hour. Whenever our attention is directed upon the present moment, the only place where our real life can be found, there is a meditative quality to our experience.
Meditation practice is a different thing. That’s when we are actively seeking out this quality of awareness through some kind of routine or method. That’s all well and good, but we need to remember that the only point of practicing meditation is to make our lives into a meditation—to be grounded in our experience and connected with the present moment through our daily life. Having a practice is important, but it’s not the only thing.
It’s really easy to separate meditation from our daily activities. We compartmentalize our spiritual practice from our personal lives, making for an easy out when we don’t step up to the plate. “I used to be into spirituality, but I’m over that now.” It is vital that we integrate spirituality into our total personality, instead of having it as a side hobby to boost our self-esteem. To help with this, I’ve been trying something out lately that I call “settling in.”
When I am involved in some activity, no matter how mundane it may seem, I try to remind myself to relax into the present moment by bringing awareness to my body. I really settle into what I’m doing, instead of just being on autopilot and taking it for granted. This doesn’t take much effort. I just try to pay attention to the fact that I’m alive—that I am breathing and my heart is beating in the here and now—and allow myself to bask in this realization for a few moments. All we need is a glimpse of our own aliveness to evoke a sense of wonder and joy in being.
I also try to accentuate the gaps between breaths, which is the holy space between stimulus and response inside of us. The present moment is all that there is. My felt experience is my only connection to life. Breathe. Relax. Feel the body. Be present. This is what I tell myself. When we are aware of being, we see that there is no division between ourselves and the activity we are engaged in.
When I settle in, whether I’m listening to a lecture or watching mixed martial arts, everything that I’m doing becomes filled with a deeper meaning. It makes more sense to me, as though I’ve tapped into some cosmic frequency that doesn’t discriminate between intellectual eloquence and faces getting punched in. There is a profound interest evoked in me toward whatever I’m doing, and it feels really good. It’s all life. It’s all here. It’s all now.
So, I believe having a meditation practice is essential to our growth as human beings, but what’s even more essential is being present with our experience. How we walk. How we talk. How we play. How we make love. How we breathe.
Ultimately, if we care about personal transformation, we need to dissolve the barrier between the ego and our experience of the world. There is no separation. There isn’t the little “me” in my head and then the rest of life; the fact of the matter is that we are life. We are being. We are God. The closer we are to realizing this in our daily experience, the healthier and happier we will be as individuals.