The Meditation of Everyday Life

10 Nov, 2017

Life can become a string of meaningless events. We do one thing after the other, without paying any real attention to it. If you ask a random person what they did an hour ago, or what they had for dinner last night, chances are they stare into the depths of the universe to come up with nothing better than “uh, I don’t know”. Life has become a routine.

We are always on our way to the next thing, just to show up at that next thing to, once again, rush off to the next thing. And in that rush, we lost the ability to be self-aware.

And so the cycle of meaningless events continues. We are busy, busy, busy. Always busy. The alarm goes off at seven in the morning, we snooze a bit because we are tired and try to squeeze in every extra minute we can get under the blankets, we jump under the shower for a quick fresh up, get in some clothes, grab a quick breakfast (if any), pour a cup of instant coffee and off we go, into the world, that’s just as chaotic as we are. This morning adventure sets the tone for the rest of the day, and for most, this becomes their life.

It all adds up

These small events might seem meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but they aren’t. All these little events form our life. In pursuit of the end goal, we forget that it’s about the journey and not the destination. So what happens when we take all these small moments for granted and never pay any real attention to them? Life passes by as life never lived.

The difference between a life never lived, and a life lived in all its glory is just a simple adjustment away. No crazy techniques, no gimmicks, just a small tweak which glues all the meaningless events together as one holistic event worth living. It all starts with being self-aware.

But, before we get to that, let’s see what has happened that made it increasingly harder to be awake.

Where did we stop being self-aware?

What happened is options. Options arose from technology, which created an environment where we could change the things to our likings. So should we ban all technology? Of course not, technology is fantastic. It’s not technology its fault; it’s ours. Technology, in all its glory, gave us the possibility to make our lives easier. To thrive and to reach new heights in life.

The greatest gift from technology to us is time, but what did we do with that time? We took that time and filled it with more busy, busy, busy. With chaos and distraction. We started to cut corners because we like things as easy as possible, so we don’t have to think. And in that process, we stopped being self-aware.

There is no time anymore to have a proper meal, so we grab processed, prepacked food to save time. We meet people and stay on our phones, to save time. We drive cars and read the newspaper at the same time, once again, to save time.

This is not living; this is going through a routine, doing a trick with the least amount of effort. It doesn’t make any sense. This is doing the bare minimum to pass the test. I was like this in high school. I can’t remember a thing from class. The only things I can remember where the times outside of class because I was mindful, I was there, enjoying the moment and being self-aware. But, this isn’t school, this is life. School had a bonus after four years, which was freedom. Life doesn’t have a bonus at the end of the road. It’s the end.

Why bother?

If we are really in such a rush to reach the end, why bother to take the journey at all? This might sound harsh, but if we are not self-aware during the journey and there is no goal at the end, why bother? We are in a rush because we think there is a reward at the end of the race. The thing about always being in a rush fascinates me. We could say we are always on our way to the next opportunity; we are climbing the ladder of success, taking the bull by the horns, getting things done.

But maybe we are in a rush not because we are running towards something; maybe, we are running away from something. Just look around. People get nervous from sitting still. We talk because we can’t stand the silence, we grab our phones to hide. We get antsy, not able to really sit still, to shut our mouths, to enjoy the moment.

Our head is in the future, not here. But we only have now. Even when we reach the future, it becomes the now. If we can’t enjoy the flowers in our garden, there is no need to travel. After all, if we can’t enjoy the little things, what will we do when we reach that big goal we are chasing after? And what if the goal we are trying to reach is already here, we are just not self-aware enough to see it.

On a day to day basis, we cruise on automatic pilot, which is a warning in itself. Automatic pilot is meant to take over the wheel when our attention is needed somewhere else. If the automatic pilot takes over our everyday life, then where is our attention?

Be present

Where our attention is is not important. Where it should be is. It should be right here, at this very moment, with 100% awareness and appreciation of what we are doing now. Do the day to day stuff with a mindset of meditation. Be 100% self-aware. Really be here and be aware of what’s happening. Iron your shirt with attention. Feel the fabric, the heat of the iron. Notice what’s going on. This might not be the most exciting thing to do, but to put this meditation into practice is a game-changer.

Try and be mindful when you are lying in bed, ready to go to sleep. Really feel your body. Not with your hands, but with being mindful. Scan your body from head to toe and really feel. You will be amazed by the things you will notice.

The stiffness in your calves, the muscle contraction in your chest, the little vibration in your neck. Apart from this being a good practice to be self-aware, this also is a good thing to know what’s going on in your body, and, in your life. This should be a good indicator of how disconnected we are from life. If you don’t even know what’s going on in your body, how can you know what’s going on everywhere else?

But what does it mean to be meditative in our everyday life? One way is to sit down and really set time apart to meditate, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about here is still meditative, but in a different way.

A cause set in motion

It’s about being really present in the here and now and really doing what you are doing at that time, whether it be cooking, being with your family, or lying in bed. The simple act of committing to doing something for the full 100% and being absolutely self-aware.

This is excellent practice to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Ten minutes of meditation has the power to change our lives. Imagine what being meditative does when added to all the little routines of our day. We will wake up earlier and easier, full of energy and excitement because the morning becomes something we treasure. Maybe we will install a morning routine, which has a positive effect on the rest of the day. We will enjoy food more and make better choices. We start noticing the silver lining. All things that used to be a tick off our to-do list become a moment of value. Imagine having all these tiny moments as memories of enjoyment and pleasure.

Our freshly brewed coffee we drink in our garden while watching the sun come up. We never noticed this before, but it’s the most calming and peaceful moment we ever had, and it’s available right at our doorstep, we just never noticed it. Maybe we even come to realize that it’s not about chasing the bigger things but about appreciating what’s right in front of us, right here, right now.

My invitation to you

If we are not self-aware, did it really happen? After all, we create memories. We want them to be crisp and clear and feel the emotions when we stroll down memory lane, not foggy and numb.

So this little writing here is a manifest. A call to action to you, my dear friend. An invitation to wake up. To stop for a moment and to take in what’s going inside you and around you. How are you feeling? What’s really going on? Are you really fine like you say you are when someone asks how you are doing, or are you just pretending? If so, why are you lying to yourself? What’s more important than what you are doing now? No matter how little the thing is, you are doing right now. Maybe you are doing absolutely nothing. Do absolutely nothing and be completely self-aware. You should try it, it’s incredible. Not being aware of something makes it meaningless.

Doing nothing without awareness feels like wasting time. Doing nothing and being aware of it becomes a practice that nourishes the mind, body, and soul. It’s a moment for yourself to reflect, and to wander, to do nothing. We need this nothingness.

Give it 100%

Instead of mindlessly pushing the button on your coffeemaker, you could go for a slow brew. Get some great coffee beans, take in the smell of the body, measure the coffee grind, bloom the grind, slowly pour the water over the coffee grind, and enjoy the process. It takes about five minutes to make one, but it’s great practice to really be aware and to enjoy the moment. I invite you to do all the small things in life with full awareness.

When you go to bed, really go to bed. None of this smartphone under your pillow nonsense. When you shower, really be there. Enjoy the water. If you talk to someone, really talk, listen, and pay attention. Even if you are on your phone, be dedicated to your phone for 100%. Enjoy your phone with all its amazing features.

So again, I urge you to be mindful, to be aware. It doesn’t matter if you fly private jets from one meeting to another, or you are a stay at home parent who barely leaves the house. Be really in the now and appreciate what is and your life will shift to a life worth living. Chances are when you do this; you will realize your life is pretty good the way it is now. Sure, there are always goals to reach, obstacles to overcome, and things to learn. But when you do this from a place where you are aware and mindful, these things become so much more pleasant and less stressful.

After all, life is already good as it is, all other things are just a gift. How is that for a living?

Photo credit: Ricardo Stoelwinder Photography