Images of meditation have become ubiquitous. In the past, meditation was depicted as something that was confined to monks in the East. You know the images— loincloth- or robe-clad sadhus in Lotus Pose.
Of course, now that yoga and meditation have entered the Western mainstream, other more seemingly relatable images come to mind. Ubiquitous among them is the young, attractive woman sitting on a sunset-drenched beach in white leggings and yoga top. (Would most people actually sit on the sand in their white leggings?) An even more recent popular image shows a man or woman in a business suit meditating in his/her office in front of a computer.
I like the idea of meditation being possible anytime, anywhere, on your meditation cushion, outdoors or in a five-minute break at work. A consistent, intentional meditation practice—setting aside a time each day to sit—is essential to building a foundation. But there are other opportunities during your day to catch a few minutes of quiet.
Make a New Start on National Meditation Day
Today is National Meditation Day. If you haven’t committed to a regular practice and would like to, here are some ideas of how to start a practice.
In Buddhist meditation, the original mindfulness practice, meditation postures include sitting, walking, standing and lying down. On long retreats, attention is given to all the movements of one’s day, not only the traditional meditation postures, but eating, showering, performing your daily chores. This creates continuity and allows your meditation practice to become a part of your daily life.
Daily Life Meditation
In addition to your daily practice—whether it’s five minutes or 60 minutes—try these ways of weaving mindfulness into your day:
- Take a walk. Mindful walking grounds your body and mind. Moving mindfully teaches us about the constancy of change. Try walking mindfully in transition times—when you’re walking to and from your car or house.
- Mindful eating. Too often in our busy lives we scarf down our food without even tasting it. Slow down. Savor the taste and texture of your food.
- Mindful listening. Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, our environment is filled with sound. Deep listening to these sounds, whether we’re indoors our outdoors, can bring us right into the moment.
- Stoplight meditation. For many of us, sitting at a stoplight can be anything from a mild annoyance to an absolute outrage. Instead of being angry at something over which you have no control, why not take the opportunity to be mindful of the process—the sensations of breathing and whatever else is coming in through your senses.
- Mindful asana practice. It seems to go without saying that we’re mindful while we’re doing our asana practice. But quite often, we’re going through the motions when we practice. It’s helpful to remember that even if you’ve practiced Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) a thousand times, the pose you’re practicing right now is not the same one you practiced yesterday, or even a minute ago. Each moment we come to our practice anew; our bodies and minds are not the same as they were yesterday. So approach your practice with a beginner’s mind.
Let National Meditation Day mark the start of a new way of approaching meditation. A daily practice, on the cushion, is a good place to start. But daily life meditations, such as those I’ve suggested, are helpful too.
In what other ways can you weave practice into the rest of your life?