When I started meditating a couple of years ago, I sat in meditation for a half hour every morning and night, so about an hour every day. It felt right at that time. I had a lot to observe in my mind.
I wrote about how I used to meditate and also about how meditation and mindfulness changes the brain, if you would like to read about that.
Since then, the time I spend in sitting meditation has decreased. Not because I meditate less, but because I realized that you don't have to sit with eyes closed in order to meditate.
Also, by sitting in meditation for an hour every day for about a year, I've learned the habits of my mind. Now, I can identify these habits as they arise, no matter what I'm doing. I know how my mind works, and I know how to respond to it. That's something you have to familiarize yourself with first.
My aim is to meditate as much as I can - to keep my mind in the constant state of peace.
That is, of course, not possible, especially if you live a normal human life, like I do, not secluded in a peaceful forest which you don't have to leave.
So, amidst all the daily duties we have to remember, how can we keep our minds clear? It certainly seems like a paradox.
Here are a couple of tips that can make the process easier:
I can't stress this enough. I know it's not easy to do in this overstimulating world of ours where our browser windows can open infinite tabs and the free apps we can download to our smartphones are seemingly endless.
Not multitasking can almost feel like missing out on life or being lazy. Don't give in to this thought - it's lying.
Concentrating the mind on a single task is much like meditation in itself - we don't let ourselves get distracted by all the other stimuli, we purposely concentrate on only one.
Have willpower, discipline yourself. And if all else fails, you can always install Block site. The endless array of browser extensions can be used for a useful purpose too. I'll admit that I have this extension installed myself. And I asked my husband to put a password on it.
2. Peace is every step
This is one of my favorite quotes from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. I recently read about how the monks and nuns in Plum Village practice walking meditation. The basis is the same as sitting meditation, they just breathe in according to their steps - inhale to 3 steps, exhale to 6. As they are walking and breathing, they concentrate their attention on their feet - how good it feels to be alive and to walk on Mother Earth.
I love this so much. Whenever I walk, I try to walk in this manner. From the moment my feet first touch the hardwood floors of our bedroom, I am grateful. I am alive. And I want to enjoy every moment I'm given fully. So I'm going to give it my full attention.
The same goes for every activity, not just walking. You can brush your teeth mindfully, put on your clothes mindfully, work on your computer mindfully. You just have to concentrate your attention on what you are doing, and recognizing the wonder in every moment. Because this present moment, my friend . . . it sure is a wonderful moment.
3. Organize your life
Just so we don't have to keep everything in our minds, I recommend putting it down onto paper. I have a weekly timetable where I organize what I have to do every day. This timetable is not crowded at all, it's very roomy, so I never have to rush, and I can do every task slowly, deliberately, mindfully.
This way I know that I can empty my mind, because everything's organized for me on paper. It allows my mind and body to be slow, calm and peaceful. There's no need to rush.
4. Blessing of the non-toothache
This one is also from Thich Naht Hanh. He said that he recognizes how pleasurable a non-toothache is, and I can't express how much I adore this perception.
Whatever you're going through in life, you always have so many things to be grateful for. A non-toothache is very pleasurable indeed.
I've been practicing being grateful for every moment for quite some time now. Seeing the wonder in every moment is a euphoric feeling I can't even begin to explain. A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I visited a beautiful forest. Most people who passed us were talking on their cellphones, not even looking at what was around them. I, on the other hand, cried in joy. I saw the wonder of the forest that everyone else passed. And I'm not someone special, everyone else can see it too if only they cared to look.
I don't think meditating in every moment is possible in the literal sense of the word. That would mean we can be perfect, when we are all so beautifully imperfect beings. But keeping your eyes open to wonder and your mind free of distractions is possible. So I invite you to do so, because man, oh man, this life is wonderful if you stop to experience it.
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh