Meditation in Everyday Life
Daily Meditation Made Easy
Tergar Meditation Community Team • 5 min read
When we sit on the cushion and all the circumstances are good, plus the environment is cooperating, then we have some experience of meditation. But when we get off the cushion and move into everyday life, then sometimes — even though we know that, theoretically, we can practice daily meditation anywhere, anytime — we forget what that really means.
If you cordon off your daily meditation practice, it’s easy to fall into the trap of continually trying to set up everything just right. “Now it’s time to meditate, so I’d better close the door. Be quiet, everybody! Uh-oh, now the neighbors are making noise. Shh! Oh no, now a dog is barking outside!” In this way, you see everything as an obstacle, instead of as a support for your practice. And even if you can manage to focus on meditation, when the time to sit is over and you go about your business, your meditation evaporates. It’s almost like you suddenly become a different person. This is why it’s so important to integrate your ordinary life activities into your daily meditation practice.
The way to fully mesh a daily meditation practice with ordinary life is to return to one of Mingyur Rinpoche’s fundamental instructions:“short time, many times.” When you wake up in the morning, try to cultivate the motivation to practice not only for yourself, but for the benefit of everyone else. If you like, you can sit in formal meditation for whatever amount of time works for your schedule. Then, throughout the day, do as much informal meditation as you can. That means meditating while you’re eating breakfast, taking a shower, walking, packing a lunch for your kids, and so on. Don’t get hung up on finding the right time or place. And never mind worrying about taking the traditional meditation posture—after all, if you’re riding a bicycle, you don’t want to rest your hands in your lap or you might have an accident! Whenever you remember to do it, just do it. Each of these informal meditations might last for only a few seconds, and that’s no problem at all.
“Meditation is really quite simple. All we have to do is embrace each experience with awareness and open our hearts fully to the present moment.”
– Mingyur Rinpoche –
How are you supposed to meditate while loading a dishwasher or tying your shoes? Well, you can just rest your mind as it is. Or be aware of your breath, even just for the duration of one inhale and one exhale. Breathe in, maybe you get lost in thoughts or feelings; breathe out, you might get lost in feelings and thoughts again. And that is okay! Sometimes it’s said that three breaths in the morning can change your whole day. Alternatively, you could be aware of the movements of your body. Or you could just know what you’re doing, just become present with the situation of the moment: “I’m walking. I’m answering a text. I’m drinking coffee. I’m weeding the garden.” Just know what you’re feeling and what you’re doing. That is meditation!
This is especially beneficial when executing tasks that demand a lot of thought. First think, then meditate by resting your mind in the situation. This has a positive effect on a complex plan or project, because it allows the brain to be refreshed, so it can go on to generate more ideas. As you grow more familiar with meditation, you can use difficult emotions, thoughts, sensations, or experiences as support for a daily meditation practice, too. Used in this way, those very difficulties will eventually become your friends.
If it’s hard to remember to drop into awareness, you can be creative about finding ways to remind yourself. You could put a sticker on your computer, so whenever you sit down to work, you remember to practice. Another sticker could go on the refrigerator…and the bathroom mirror…and the front door…etcetera. (It’s good to change such reminders and stickers from time to time, as once we get used to seeing them, we can stop noticing them.) Or you could keep a running tally of how many times a day you practice, and set a goal. Let’s say you’d like to informally meditate 30 times per day. So then you try to remember as you go: “Okay, eating breakfast meditation—that’s one. Boarding bus meditation—two. Greeting coworker meditation— three.” It doesn’t take much time, and it fits into any schedule.
The “short time, many times” formula keeps your daily meditation practice fresh. By meditating for a short time, you’ll be done before boredom and dullness creep in, and there will be no space for racing thoughts. Meanwhile, sticking to the “many times” part of the formula, and resting in awareness over and over again will help develop your practice. Eventually every hour of your daily life will become part of it. If that doesn’t seem true, just think of drops of water falling one by one into a barrel. No matter how small the drops or how slowly they fall in, if they keep coming, sooner or later that barrel will fill up.
Watch this video “You can meditate anywhere anytime” by Mingyur Rinpoche.
Practice awareness of your body movements with a guided meditation from Tergar Instructor Myoshin Kelly.
Do you want to try meditation, but don’t know how to start? This free course is specially designed for beginners, and takes only a week to complete.
Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.
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