There is a common misconception that meditation is all about sitting quiet and cross-legged, trying not to move or think. However, meditation and mindfulness are really much more about how you do something than what you are actually doing.
It is true that in many traditions, meditation is practiced by sitting silently, towards a goal of reaching a place of ‘no thought.’ But, before we can reach this serene place while sitting still, which is very difficult for many people, it may help to train your brain towards mindfulness of everyday actions.
The philosophy of mindfulness is one of staying in the present moment, without letting your thoughts drift to the past or the future. It is about simply being.
Rebecca Lammersen, the founder of Yogulation, says, “meditation is a science – the science of understanding the pathways of the brain and how they react to different situations, experiences and stimuli. Through this understanding, we can learn how to respond to these reactions and train the brain to focus.”
According to Lammersen, one way to conceptualize mindfulness is to think about your favorite activity, one that helps you to relax. Perhaps it is painting, roller skating, or playing music. Now, think about how you feel and what you are thinking about while you are performing this activity.
When we are doing what we love, we are usually completely focused on the task at hand. If we are painting, we notice the subtleties of the colors on the brush, and the intricate way we move the brush along the canvas. Our minds are completely absorbed in what we are doing. This is mindfulness in action.
This concentrated focus can also be practiced on seemingly mundane tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, walking, or even washing our hands. Next time you cook, for example, focus your attention entirely on cooking.
Note the colors of the foods you are preparing, and the shapes of the cutlery. Listen to the crisp sound of a green pepper being sliced, and the sizzle of it cooking in a pan.
Breathe in the aromas of each stage of your meal’s preparation, and taste along the way (a secret of great chefs), paying extra attention to each flavor and how it will mingle with the rest of your ingredients. Notice how the food feels in your mouth as you taste, as well as the weight and feel of the ingredients and utensils in your hand. Try to engage all five of your senses.
When you become mindful during simple tasks, you transform these tasks into meditative experiences. To follow the above example, after your meal is prepared mindfully, reflect on how you feel.
You may notice yourself feeling significant calmer and more alert. You may notice that all of your senses feel sharper, and that your mind is no longer being pulled in various directions. You are now ready to mindfully enjoy your meal!
There are many benefits of meditating while quiet and still. This practice helps you to get deeper in touch with your inner being. Meditation in action both adds richness and meaning to everyday activities, and helps train you in mindfulness so that you are able to meditate in stillness, as well.
-The Alternative Daily