Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Turn Every Action into a Meditation

 When we discover the peace and joy of meditation, we may often find ourselves in a quandary. We may want to keep enjoying the soothing meditation sessions, and feel reluctant to get back to the chores of life. 

For many of us, meditation is restricted to the time we spend exclusively on the meditation mat, doing our specific mediation practice. This makes us rush along other routine activities as if they were just impediments, unpleasant chores to get out of the way, so that we can spend time doing what we like. People who enjoy doing 'some' things but do not enjoy the numerous unavoidable chores in between, they also try to preform those duties just to get them out of the way-it could be cleaning your work space, washing your car, exercising, organizing your home, and so on. Even socializing can seem like an unavoidable chore sometimes -- that we have to do for the sake of keeping relationships at a functional level.

This attitude is very detrimental to the quality of life that we live and our experiences on a day-to-day basis. It won't help meditation either. Let's see how to sort this out to our advantage.

Meditation is not just the sitting practice

There are many reasons for trying to rush and dispense with our routine chores. Primarily it is the concern with self. When I return from office, I feel that I am tired and that I need to unwind. I want to watch my favorite TV program. When my little daughter comes and tries to chat with me, I want to get her out of the way as soon as possible. I turn a half ear to her, not really giving her my time.

When someone else does this to us, we can really feel hurt. It hurts relationships in the end. A sort of futility creeps into the person whom we ignore, albeit unwittingly.

Chores can also help us meditate better

It would be better if we recognized that tiny, everyday chores also contribute to our general performance and happiness. If you are a meditator, you can use these chores to improve your meditation. Even if you do not meditate, you can use every action-whether routine or special, to improve the quality of your life.

How to improve quality of life using every action

You use the same tool for performing every action: your mind. It is the indispensable tool for all actions. In turn, every action and every thought affect the performance of your mind. Thus, when we habitually rush through our daily chores, our minds would not be so well equipped to perform specialized actions. It can become a habit. We might want to rush even while conversing, which can affect our relationships. It could make it difficult for us to acknowledge our emotions, which is important to find peace. It could also affect meditation in the end-when the initial novelty passes over, meditation can also become a chore. 

Solution: Be present in every action

The tradition of Zen stresses upon being in the present moment. Other religions do not specially elaborate on this, but a study of the lives of spiritual teachers in other traditions shows this principle in action.

Being in the present helps us to do every action effectively. It helps us to avoid collecting emotional baggage. Being present and observing negative emotions, helps reduce their sway over us. Without struggling with the negativity, we can be free of it.

More and more people are discovering the importance of being present in the here and now. Eckhart Tolle elaborates on this in his groundbreaking work "The Power of Now".

Living in the present empowers you to handle life situations. Life happens in the moment. There are no textbook solutions to every life situation. Understanding how to live in this moment helps you tackle the unexpected challenges life throws at you, and to really enjoy the journey.

This means being present in your every experience, continually bringing back your attention to the current task. As most people have not tried to cultivate the mind, it may wander off frequently. Training for the most part consists of bringing back your attention when you realize it has wandered. If you are listening to a friend, you need to bring back yourself when your attention wanders off. It means applying brakes to yourself when you feel like butting in and finishing sentences. It means being aware of what is happening within us-the emotions, the thoughts, and the restlessness. When someone offends us, we become aware of the unpleasant emotion. Rather than focus on the person responsible or the incident, let us first notice our unpleasantness. Observing it calmly, you will see it resolves itself. Counting the breaths helps to retain calmness. 

Does this contradict existing religions?

 It does not. When I first learnt of living in the NOW, there was a lot of confusion about what it meant: should I leave everything in my current life? Should I give up my aims, goals, and aspirations? Did it mean I should live impulsively doing what I felt like? There are incidents in the lives of Zen masters where they seemingly flouted convention in a shocking way.

We need not imitate the external. What happens outside is a natural continuation of our internal life. We only need to continue performing our usual actions, but in a mindful way. Change will be inspired.
_________________________________________________________________________________ If you like this article, please consider sharing with your friends. Email, Twitter, FB, and Google+ links are below. To get targeted content for your blog/site, please contact me.

No comments:

Contact Me


Email *

Message *