Growing up in India in a non-religious household, I assumed that everyone did yoga and meditation every morning. My dad would do his yoga and prānāyāma (yogic breath work) followed by a few minutes of meditation.
My brother and I still follow this childhood habit half a century later. To us, yoga and meditation are like brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue. You just do it and don’t think too much about it.
When you don’t brush your teeth, your mouth feels a certain way and you know the world can wait and you shouldn’t have skipped brushing your teeth and so you go do it.
For meditators, life is like that.
The world can wait. We need to meditate. But if you struggle to have a meditation practice, here are a few ideas to help you establish the habit.
Everything can be meditation
My teacher, Zen Master Thây Thich Nhat Hanh, says “everything can be meditation." Cooking, cleaning, walking, sitting, listening, speaking, everything you do each day can be an active practice of meditation. All you need to do is remain mindful.
When you are doing your dishes if you are mindful and fully present with the dishes, the water, the soap, the space around you, your breath, your body, your hands as they handle the dishes, your feet on the floor, that is meditation.
Can you do it right away? Maybe not! But, yes, like each aspect of your life that you have mastered over time, you can master meditation too.
All you need is a choice, followed by a decision and then follow-through.
Do you remember the time when you were brand new at something that you are good at now? With time you built a practice while gaining confidence side by side. The more you put into it, the more you got out of it.
Similarly, with dishwashing meditation, as you remain mindful you will master this art of dish-washing meditation. Thây even asked us to do bus meditation while riding a bus.
Remember “wax-on-wax-off” in the movie, the Karate Kid? While waxing on and off, the kid was mastering moves from Mr. Miyagi's form of karate.
Similarly, while engaging in something as mundane as doing your dishes, you could be meditating, simply by remaining mindful.
What is mindfulness?
Anything you do in life can be meditation when you do it mindfully. This gives rise to the question, what is mindfulness? In Pāli, the language spoken during the time of the Buddha, the word for mindfulness is Sati, which is derived from the word Smriti, in Sanskrit.
Smriti means to remember or to be aware of who you are, where you are, fully engaged in the task at hand, and aware of your here and now. When you are in this state of mindfulness, you are in meditation.
To gain this level of mastery, you have to sit on your cushion for seven to ten minutes, ideally twenty minutes twice a day, at the same spot every day. In order to drop into the state of mindfulness as soon as you sit to meditate, you have to do either one of the following four forms of body movement for a minimum of twenty minutes and a maximum of ninety.
Yoga, Tai-Chi, Chi-Gong, or chanting sacred verses with body movement will get your body aligned with your mind and consciousness. When you are fully feeling your body, it’s a great time to meditate for a duration that suits your schedule.
When you sit to meditate after twenty minutes of mindful body movement, you can drop into a meditative mindset almost instantaneously.
What is mindful meditation?
Your body exists in four states — sitting, standing, lying down, or moving. In each of these states, you could remain mindful. While your body exists in either of these states if you are aware of it, that’s called mindfulness meditation. When your mind is aware of the state your body is in, that’s mindfulness, that’s meditation.
You could take this one step further. For a minute every hour, stop everything you are doing. And, simply inhale slow-long-deep for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of two, exhale slow-long-deep for the count of four, and pause for the count of two. Do this cycle for a count of four, and that’s a minute of meditation.
If you are awake for sixteen hours then you meditated for sixteen minutes in a day. Now, isn’t that brilliant?
Keya Murthy, M.S., works as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Spiritual Life Coach, and Energy Medicine Practitioner at the Ventura Healing Center. She’s a #1 International Best-Selling Author on Amazon and has written eleven books. Her latest offering is The Book On Happiness: How To Have Peace And Stability For The Working Mom.
Article originally appeared on YourTango.com