Meditating starts well before you sit down on the cushion. That’s something I had to learn recently when I missed hitting a meditating milestone of 50 days with 49 staring right at me. I found my days getting shorter and shorter with activities built in that were designed to maintain my civilian lifestyle. All of the administrative life activities that literally sucks the life out of living. For a few days I found myself barely able to sit on the cushion for 5 minutes. There were times when the cushion felt like it had needles in it. It wasn’t always this way. In the past I’ve been able to sit for 45 minutes and desire to sit longer.
I had lost sight of why I was even sitting in the first place. My mindful activity had suddenly become mindless. Now it was simply another thing on my checklist to accomplish before bed. The importance of it waned and it showed in my day to day functioning. It can be difficult to re-center yourself and get into a true groove of meditating and being mindful. What I should have known like most of you may know, is that being mindful doesn’t start and end with sitting on the cushion.
If you think of your mind as a car going 90 mph on a freeway. Non-stop. All day, while multitasking. Then, all of a sudden, you come to a complete halt to be mindful of your surroundings and what’s going on. It’s going to be a little difficult for that vehicle to stop and not throw around everything that’s happening internally. Your coffee would probably spill, you would get a little whiplash action going, all bad tings. Mindfulness throughout your day slows down your car. This helps because when you do get to the stoplight you’re going 20 mph instead of 90. There are days when I’m simply reacting to the world and feel like I have no real control over what’s happening. Mindfulness is not something that’s usually taught to us. Staying busy and being a work horse is what’s been preached to the American people. Any time spent staring at your eyelids could have been used to make money. This is a lucrative narrative but not quite a healthy one.
I see a mindful movement beginning in the world. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, it’s really starting to take center stage. Businesses are promoting it’s affects. The hardest part about this is that it’s being done so that you can be a more efficient work horse, not so that you can live a healthier life. I guess that’s a rant for another post.
What I’m trying to say is that your meditation practice does not happen in a vacuum. As you sit more you’ll start to realize things about yourself. The best times for you to sit and so forth. Going throughout your day being mindless, sets you up for failure when it comes time to sit on the cushion. Taking mindful moments throughout your day can drastically change your meditation practice. Your consumption that day affects your practice. You ever try meditating after chugging a red bull? IMPOSSIBLE! I’ll never do that again. Pick a few moments throughout your day to take a mindful breath. You can set an alarm on your phone to do it. When you sit on the cushion it won’t be as painful after practicing this technique. Once meditating becomes a staple in your life, the urgency and importance becomes a part of your life and not just something you do when you’re feeling wound up.
Try to give yourself some moments this week where you pump the brakes on your life. Allow yourself the permission to look around and really take in your environment. Use your senses as a way to slow down the busy brain and focus on the present moment. Over time you will see that this technique will aide in developing your meditation practice. The journey to being mindful is rough, but hopefully with little techniques like this, it’ll assist with pulling you out of any mental ruts you may be in. Take care and good luck on your journey. Metta.