What do you think when you think of meditation? Sitting still on a yoga mat and cushion, perhaps a candle and incense burning? You’re not wrong, but there’s more than that. In sitting meditation, you can practice simple breath work to more complex breath practices (pranayama) to many different forms of energetic practices. Sitting meditation is – of course – one of the best practices you can give yourself for overall wellbeing. Sitting meditation heightens your awareness of the present moment, it reduces anxiety, and so much more.
What is Meditation Off the Mat?
Meditation, however, is more than the relegated time you spend sitting. The real meditation is how you show up each moment. After all, we don’t meditate to live in a cave but we practice it to better relate to ourselves, others and the world at large. How do you show up for yourself, each moment, each day? That indeed is the real practice. There is a famous quote that perfectly describes this: “After Enlightenment, do the dishes.” It means that an awakened state of mind extends to all tasks, no matter how ‘unspiritual’ they may seem.
The aim is not to do meditation but to be in a state of meditation throughout your day.
How Do You Make Meditation a Daily State of Mind?
How do you begin? By cultivating the practice of being in the present moment, always asking how you can better serve yourself. Only then can you serve others and be in a state of equanimity. What is equanimity? A state that is balanced and peaceful rather than one that is driven by reactivity.
At first, this practice may not come naturally if you are still learning to control your mind rather than let it control you.
Here are four easy steps to get you on your way to be in a state of meditation beyond the mat:
- Come back to the breath. Always. While it’s easier in sitting meditation to focus on your breath (after all it is your only real task), begin performing all of your daily tasks with attention to your breath. Your mind – like a distracted monkey – will likely keep on being distracted, but just gently bring it back, bring it back until you naturally do it all the time. This will make you less reactive to the world’s stresses – tight deadlines, disagreements, screaming children, accidents, whatever they may be.
- How can you set time apart in your day to better serve yourself and raise your vibration? By having small ceremonial, self-nurturing actions as a daily routine, your soul is naturally elevated, you feel more grounded. Coming from this state, you are more inclined to be in a state of breath-awareness and meditation all day, every day. Honor yourself!
- Nourishment. Make sure your pantry is full of high-vibrational foods that nourish and detoxify your entire body. Without being in a state of agitation from caffeine, refined sugars or processed foods, you will find that mindfulness in every moment comes easily.
- Awareness. Being aware of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs
To serve others, it is important to come from a state of equanimity. If you struggle with finding equanimity, there is always support — asking for support is a form of self-respect.
Most importantly, don’t forget to trust and enjoy the process and to have grace and compassion toward yourself along the way.