The goal of meditation in many practices is, if you’ll allow me to over simplify things, the pursuit of intentionally emptying your mind of conscious thought and holding control over all of your attention and focus.
To what end? Well some meditate in pursuit of enlightenment, some meditate as a mental health exercise, some meditate to try to find answers to questions that persistently bother their mind.
I personally find it a wonderful method to quiet the storm of white noise that modern living can stir in my brain and allow clear thoughts to gain the upper hand once more.
Regardless of the reason I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone can agree, meditation is good for your general well-being.
Meditation does not have to be this mystical practice where you need to sit in place in a dimly lit cave facing a wall for thirty years. The very act of meditating in the stereotypical sense has a kind of stigma attached to it that intimidates your average every day individual.
“Meditation?” they might say, “I’m not really into all that new age, crunchy, hippy dippy stuff”. After which they’ll then proceed to down their third grande latte and lose a bit more hair stressing out about the big presentation they’ve got to give at their office tomorrow.
I know I know, I just fought a stereotype with a stereotype, I’m a hypocrite. My point is that this doesn’t have to happen, everyone meditates at some points in their lives whether they realize it or not.
Honestly I don’t think our brains could possibly go at the frantic pace so many of us subject it to in our daily lives without occasionally going on strike and giving itself some quiet time.
Enter a long known solution
Like I said, everyone experiences moments of serene emptiness here and there, exactly the kind of moment that people strive to extend to minutes and hours through sitting meditation. The trick here is that we do it without sitting and consciously trying to achieve it.
This brings me to something that Taoists and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhists have been doing for centuries, moving meditation.
Moving meditation is a name that’s been given to an action we can do without thinking, and indeed we enjoy doing that action because we can do it without thinking.
I’m sure if you all think hard enough you can come up with some practice you find soothing. Maybe it’s weeding your garden, maybe it’s doing some yoga, maybe it’s something as simple and mundane as doing the dishes.
Taoists and Ch’an Buddhists used this concept towards their martial arts and yogic practices. Rather than spending hours a day in sitting meditation and letting their body waste away, they instead decided to find a way to simultaneously cultivate their mind and body with one practice.
I personally am a martial artist and can attest to this. When beginning, practicing the movements and patterns I learned was difficult; with practice I was eventually able to do so without thinking about it.
The point where I no longer had to think about what I was doing in order to do it leads to the real challenge. From here I needed to work on preventing my mind from wandering to other useless thoughts like stressful things from work, or trying to think of a good way to ask out that cute girl I met two weekends ago.
This is where one begins to train their mental discipline in the exact same way that one practicing sitting meditation does. If you can do an action without thinking about it, and you only let your mind focus on that action, what do you expect your mind will do?
You’ll end up not thinking about anything, instead you’ll experience what it’s like to be completely present in the moment and experience life untainted by thoughts of the past or the future. It’s just you, right here, right now, alive and in the moment.
And it is beautiful.
Practicing the martial arts is my own personal example, but regardless of what it is, my main point is this: life is meditative. There is any number of different things you do in any given day without needing to think about it.
All I’m saying is to start focusing on whatever it is you’re doing, don’t let your mind wander around and get hung up on the confusing and stressful things that can pop up in life.
If you make a dedicated effort to just focus on whatever it is you’re doing, you’ll notice vast improvements not only in the quality of your actions, but also your ability to manage anything that comes your way.
looking for something they’ve got,
and forget living.