The power of mindfulness is the opportunity it provides us to experience inner peace, but peace can only come from meeting with each aspect and part of ourselves. Often during seated mindfulness meditation we only face certain aspects. Daily life where we are busy, have stimuli that we react to with stress, interaction with people and so on brings up a different type of experience to be mindful to. Often practitioners may experience deep levels of transcendence and as a result peace during seated meditation and then totally lose it in every day life. This experience has been noted from some very experienced meditators, monks and ascetics as well as lay practitioners. What has occurred is that the mind has not yet been given the opportunity to move through the energetic frequencies of everyday life.
When it comes to meditation it is a huge trap to believe that there is nothing to gain from everyday, “mundane” and stressful experience. Our children may be crying and yelling, our boss may be antagonizing us, we may be concerned with finances, traffic and the general state of the world. Even more worrying we look at ourselves and we observe that we have these petty concerns, we are jealous about the neighbor’s new lawnmower, we are still fuming at that red Volkswagon that cut us off and we’re beating ourselves up for not getting all our “stuff” together. This sure doesn’t seem like the spiritual growth that we’ve heard about! The pain seems even larger because our silent, daily meditation seems to be going well. Our practice then feels futile. On the one hand we find peace when we find sanctuary and make time to meditate on the other hand this does not seem to carry out into our every day life.
In our deepest meditations when we experience a sensation we learn to observe it and so we gain the opportunity to move deeper into it. Without the sensation or “object” to observe we lose the opportunity to release our attachment and so the sensation still has power over us. We need to look ourselves square in the eye without flinching. The integration of this into daily life is exactly the same. When we feel petty, jealous, angry, sad or whatever physical sensation, we observe objectively. We feel the feeling of being repulsed with ourselves, we feel the feeling of being angry, or jealous, or sad. We observe the feeling of wanting these feelings to go away, we observe the feeling of being a “bad person.” Meeting ourselves in this way provides the same experience as any meditation experience does. The opportunity to make peace.
Peace allows the “other”, the aspects of ourselves to be as they are.
The basic method of integrating mindfulness into everyday life is to observe your obvious physical movement as you go about your day. Notice how your muscles tense and relax as you drive your car, walk, do the dishes, talk, shower, go to the toilet, watch television and so on. Watch how you feel when you meet friends, when you walk past a stranger on the street and when you are daydreaming. Be sure to include as much as possible all of your different states. There is no state that is not appropriate to apply mindfulness to. They are all after all expressions of you.
Being mindful does not need to be a rigid practice. Play around with it. It’s a tool for empowerment not to make life a chore. Practice being fully involved in a discussion and then just take a moment to observe yourself. Practice eating your food with mindfulness and observe the texture of the food, the taste and how your body is feeling. Allow yourself to be deeply involved in watching a movie and then afterwards observe how your body posture and internal sensations are feeling.
Surrounding your mindfulness practice, it is valuable to remember to come back to the frequency of nurturing, love and generally feeling good. The practice of mindfulness is essentially a method of guiding the mind to realize that our physical and mental states are more than what they appear to be – but let’s remember that in our quest for truth, enlightenment and empowerment we are essentially seeking happiness. So during the journey make sure to refresh the spirit, revive the body and nurture the mind. This will ensure that the journey is one that sustains.