In one sense meditation is a retreat from the world. We close our eyes, sit still and try to escape from the thoughts of the mind. In real meditation, we can experience a tranquillity and peace that is usually lacking in our everyday life. This moment of silent reflection and inner peace is a wonderful way to start the day. If we can experience even five minutes of peace first thing in the morning, it will positively affect the rest of the day for the better.

These moments of meditation, where we retreat to a quiet corner to consciously still the mind are an essential part of any spiritual life. But, we can’t spend all day in meditation. Even half an hour of meditation a day can prove quite a challenge! But, we can still try to incorporate many of the principles of meditation in our other daily activities. These are four tips on how we can try to incorporate the principles of meditation into everyday life.

1. Concentration. The first building block of meditation is the art of concentration. In concentration we try to focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else. If we can concentrate, we become one-pointed and absorbed in our focus. In meditation, we may practise concentration by focusing on a candle. In our everyday life, this practise of meditation can be applied to a range of different tasks. When I was a student, I used to find it hard to concentrate on writing an essay, I’d soon end up staring out of the library window. But, when I took up meditation, I found the concentration I developed in meditation could also be applied to these other aspects of life. When we work, we can see it is a form of meditation. All we need to do is to be very mindful and one-pointed in our work. When we learn to work with care, precision and one-pointedness – it makes work more enjoyable and satisfying.

2. Switching off distractions. One of the great benefits of meditation is the opportunity to switch off from the endless distractions of modern life. It is very refreshing to be free of notifications, text alerts, email updates e.t.c. It can take a bit of discipline to do this, but for longer periods we can try to switch off technology to give us chance to reconnect with a more fundamental part of life. Meditation can give a great sense of freedom, and consciously simplifying life can also give us this sense of freedom.

3. Let things go. When we practise meditation, we are always trying to let go of irksome thoughts and ideas which come into our mind. In meditation, we learn that these passing thoughts come and go, and don’t have any fundamental reality. By letting go of thoughts, we learn that they are much less powerful than we might imagine. We can apply this same principle, even in everyday life. If we see ourselves starting to get annoyed by small irritating little things, try the same exercise of letting go and paying no attention to these irksome thought patterns. In this practise, we learn that we can let go of negativity and choose what we allow into our mind.

We can easily know whether we are meditating well or not just by the way we feel about the world around us. Right after our meditation if we have a good feeling for the world, if we love the world or see the world in a loving way in spite of its imperfections, then we can know that our meditation was good.

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

4. Goodwill. The aim of meditation is to have goodwill towards ourselves and the rest of the world. In meditation, we go beyond the critical mind and empathise with the heart of the matter. If we use the sympathetic heart and not the critical mind, we generate goodwill and positive vibrations to others. This is real practical love. We can cultivate this in meditation, but can always try to invoke this feeling whatever we are doing.

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Footnotes

[1] Sri Chinmoy, My Meditation-Service At The United Nations For 25 Years, Agni Press, 1995

Photo top: South Parks, Oxford by Tejvan

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