ACTIVE MEDITATION … how to bring meditation into your day

Pedestrians on Fifth Avenue, New York CityMeditation is the process of quieting your mind.

Everyone agrees it’s a very good thing to do.

Not everyone is able to establish a practice…

There are lots of reasons why – some real, some just excuses.  It’s hard to find the time. It’s hard to find the focus.  You need a special place to practice;  you have to devote a certain fixed amount of time each day if it’s to have any benefit.  Maybe you think the whole process is serious, demanding, and not a lot of fun. And maybe you meditate and then, a in the middle of the day when you’re stressed out and tired, it’s hard to think what good it did in first place.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Meditation is far too beneficial for body, mind and soul to be excluded from your life just because of your idea about how it should be done. There are no ‘shoulds’ in meditation.  So don’t worry about not having time – no one does. And forget about trying to concentrate – it’s counter-productive.  Instead, take your practice out of the separate and solitary and into smack into the middle of your crazy, demanding, tension-producing, noise filled life. Create a uniquely personal practice that suits your schedule and your time and your needs. Create a practice that an active force in your life; that doesn’t demand concentration, but promotes focus; that isn’t separate from everything else in your life. but an integral part of everything you do.

Meditation is ‘an effort toward concentration.’   (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1.13).

Meditation is first and foremost a practice of mental focus, concentration on one thing only, what yogis call ‘ekagrata.’ In sitting meditation the ‘effort toward concentration’ is a solitary, inner exploration of consciousness directed toward the center of your deepest Self.  In active meditation the same ‘effort toward concentration’ becomes a practical, user-friendly means to cope with stress, fatigue, and tension while engaged in daily activities. One does not negate the other.  You can practice either – and you can practice both.  It’s simply a matter of taking your practice out of the privacy of your home and into the stresses of your everyday life.  Active Meditation is sitting meditation-on-the-go.

Mindfulness is a free-form approach to meditation, tuning into an awareness of your surroundings and gently reminding yourself to stay in moment. You practice by being observant of all that is going on around you and/or inside your head. You learn to observe yourself without judgment, letting go of tension and resisting distractions by simply being receptive to the world through which you are moving.

Visualization activates the imaginative power of your mind through creating images to focus on, and has been widely adopted by Western medicine as an effective form of treatment support and healing. In Yoga terms, visualizing opens your ‘third eye’, and allows you to see what cannot otherwise be seen, such as energy. To visualize, your eyes need not be closed, or your environment tranquil.  When you find yourself tensing up, you ‘see’ within a color that you associate with calm, and let that color expand through your body.  If you are feeling tired, ‘see’ energy and direct it through your fatigue like colored streamers.

Breath is the manifestation of Prana, life force, and through focus on your breathing you gain direct access to its power.  Breath is the most available meditative focus of all – after all, aware of not, you are always breathing –  and focus on your respiratory rhythm, its speed or slowness, evenness or irregularity, without judgment or correction, organically deepens your breath and quiets your mind. One simple form of practice, whether walking, working, worrying or preparing dinner, is to inhale energy and exhale tension.  Simple, direct and transformative.

Mantra is sound vibration activated by chanting ‘bija’ or seed syllables, and when chanted silently, within, it becomes a completely portable practice technique. The basic mantra, OM, is the primal cosmic vibration, and when heard within creates an energy that seems to absorb all tension and stress almost magically, generating inner quiet in the midst of noise.

Active meditation brings meditative focus into every aspect of your life

For some mysterious reason, It is often easier to meditate in the middle of activity than it is in solitude and silence. In fact, in my teaching I’ve found that many people for whom it is really difficult – even tension producing – to meditate in peace and quiet, find it easy and immediately gratifying to do so when they are dealing with a difficult situation at work, waiting on line at the grocery store, or rushing to make an appointment. The contrast between the relative calm of any focus and the yakety-yak of a stressed-out mind is so stark that even one brief moment of interior quiet becomes huge – and you immediately experience the benefits of your meditation.

Meditation as an active practice develops your ability to focus and stay centered regardless of stress. Practice is the ongoing process of staying in the moment by consciously choosing focus over distractions, and calm over tension – a powerful and empowering life skill.  It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, when you have the psychic ability to connect your innate inner store of strength, energy and calm, everything you do becomes a form of yoga.