Everyday Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice is not just about sitting cross-legged in meditation. As important as it is to set aside the time for meditation - we recommend daily sitting, if at all possible - allowing mindfulness to have a place in your commute to work, interactions with your children, and other daily activities brings immediacy and relevance to your practice. As the Zen teacher said, "Going forward is a matter of everydayness."

Mindfulness is the art of actually being present for our lives. When we bring our mindful attention to an everyday situation, without judgment and without an agenda to fix it or change it, it becomes more real to us. This is because we come closer to experiencing that activity or thing as it truly is, rather than the way we think about it. Most of the time, all we encounter about the world is our habit of relating to it. The world can only open up to us when we can relinquish our prejudices and our desires to manipulate it.

Not only do the people and events we encounter become more real, but we become more real to them as well. A person who enters a situation mindfully is someone who can be touched by that situation. In mindfulness, we gradually develop our intention and ability to drop our resistances to our life. One of my Zen teachers used to say, "Life makes an impact!" We all know if the person we are talking to is being mindful: they seem like they are actually present in the conversation. Often, we can sense that they are not creating a wall of judgments about us, or a barrier of distracted thought. They seem to be stable and present, and because of their stability they can allow us to say what we have to say, and allow themselves to actually be affected by us.

We can think about mindfulness as a deep acceptance of whatever we are experiencing. In our formal meditation we cultivate that acceptance towards ourselves and the relatively simple situation we find ourselves in. Extending our mindfulness to our everyday lives is tremendously challenging and tremendously rewarding.

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