When people think about meditation, they tend to picture a person sitting cross-legged on the ground, practicing “formal, sitting meditation.” However, there are other forms of meditation that do not require you to separate yourself from your daily activities at all. In Mindfulness of Action Meditation, we meditate on our daily activities themselves.
Meditation is all about developing your powers of concentration, focus, mindfulness and awareness. Sitting on the ground, you can do this by concentrating all of your attention on your breathing. However, you can practice your powers of concentration and focus in your daily life as well.
The trick to this technique is to be constantly aware of what you are doing at any given moment. If you are reading, be aware that you are reading. If you are thinking, be aware that you are thinking. If you are sitting, be aware that you are sitting. If you are walking, be aware that you are walking. Right now, I am thinking and I am typing. Right now, you are reading and you are thinking.
This is a very powerful form of meditation, because you can actually practice from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep, while never taking a moment away from your daily activities.
In fact, you will be so focused on what you are doing, that you will get everything done much more efficiently, effectively, gracefully and artfully. Your daily dance through waking life will lose its “work-y,” necessary, tiring quality, and take on the qualities of warmth, love, fun, energy and happiness instead. As a bonus, at the end of the day, you will find yourself with a huge chunk of free time and bounding energy that you never knew existed!
BECOMING AWARE OF YOURSELF
We humans have evolved with a stunning (and fascinating) lack of self-awareness.
It is easy to be aware of someone else. Your eyes can easily see a person standing in front of you… but they cannot swivel around to get a good view of yourself. For that reason, we are often oblivious to what we ourselves are doing at any given moment!
It’s a very odd phenomenon. You may be chewing on your nails or daydreaming for ten minutes before you even notice that you’re doing it. You may be lying around wasting time watching LoLcats on YouTube, obsessively thinking about something that is of no real practical value to you, or pointlessly stressing yourself into an early grave.
Hey, we all do it. We’re not robots, programmed only to carry out specific, logical, goal-oriented functions. Far from it! In fact, we are animals. Like all animals, we have evolved behavior patterns that suit our survival and replication. Like all animals, we have evolved an extremely versatile set of behaviors to choose from, and, like all animals, we engage in many behaviors that are simply a waste of time and energy, and many that are actually harmful to ourselves and others.
Through Mindfulness of Action Meditation, we are attempting to become consciously aware of our selves, our behaviors, and our actions.
We have five senses through which we receive information from the physical world of matter and energy. While it may be difficult to use your physical, external sense organs to perceive yourself, you can use your mind’s ability to SIMULATE your senses in order to gain awareness of what you are doing at any given moment.
Let’s use a simple activity as an example: You are lying in bed, and you decide to stand up and brush your teeth.
Auditory (hearing): Repeat the word “lying, lying” in your head as you continue to lie in your bed. When you decide to stand up, you note “thinking, wanting, deciding.” When you move to stand up and brush your teeth, the words change to something like “moving, sitting, standing, standing, standing… walking, walking, lifting, brushing, brushing…” etc.
Visual (seeing): Visualize yourself doing whatever you are doing. You can see yourself lying in the bed (as if you’re watching yourself on a screen). You can see yourself thinking, wanting, deciding, moving, sitting, standing, walking, picking up your toothbrush, brushing your teeth, etc, as you actually take those actions in reality.
Kinesthetic (touching): You can feel your body as it is lying in the bed. You can feel your muscles in your abdomen working to change your body position as you sit up. You can feel the cold floor as you place your feet down. You can feel the muscles in your legs working as you stand up.
You can use just one of these modes of awareness, all of them, none of them, or any combination. They are simply mental techniques that can help you maintain awareness of what you are doing at any given moment.
GET STARTED NOW
So, now that you’ve read the background information on this super convenient meditation technique, you’re ready to get started and try it now.
Hey, you’re going to be existing and doing things anyway, so you might as well use them as a meditation. Kill two birds with one stone… who doesn’t like to do that? As an added bonus, the extra concentration, focus, and presence that you bring to your daily activities today will make your actions much more effective and fulfilling.
So, to get started, simply realize what you are doing right now. You are sitting, or maybe you’re lying down. You’re looking at a computer screen. You’re reading an article about meditation. Now you’re thinking about what else you might want/need to do today. You’re shutting your computer, standing up, and going to do that right now.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Meditation Magazine.