Living Meditation

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(Photo credit: Les Piccolo)

It’s funny how I was just thinking about getting enough sleep this morning and then I came across Leo’s latest blog.

Meditation can be especially hard if we haven’t had enough sleep.  Sleep is so important to many things in our live – from motor skills to regeneration of new cell tissue.  Yet how often do we ignore the signs that we need more sleep, or are unable to meet the demands that our body requires due to the nature of our lives?

Sometimes when I’m meditating I find that my eyes are closing, and my head is falling to my chest. At that point, I give up on meditation and, if it’s not in the evening, have a lie down and a nap (or otherwise just go to bed). I too have tried to get up early in order to meditate, but dance rehearsals and classes at night often equate to a sluggish morning while my body is still recuperating from the exercise. Meditating afterwards is not possible, for I am just too tired.  The best time of day for me to meditate is around 3 – 5pm, however this is not always possible. Yet I still try to meditate every day, in some form, preferably sitting still so that my mind stills even as my body stills.

People with young children often live a life of perpetual sleep-deprivation.  There is a Zen story about a mother who berated herself for not having the time to spend in meditation as she was too busy looking after her child. A Zen monk told her that looking after her child was her meditation – as long as she was fully aware of the moments she had with her child.

Meditation is much more than just sitting on a cushion focusing on the breath, or pondering a problem, journeying within our minds or chanting mantras while holding our hands in mudras.  Meditation is life – all that we need do is to bring a conscious awareness to our lives in order to achieve this.

When I am at work, if I am focused on the work, aware of my surroundings and my reactions to situations, then I am meditating.  When I am driving to or from the office, absorbed in the driving itself, I am meditating. When I am at home from work and finding the time to sit on my zafu and focus on my breath, my thoughts and my feelings; then I am meditating. When I am washing the dishes in full awareness, I am meditating. When I am stroking the cat and listening to her purr, I am meditating.  When I am doing yoga, focusing on the postures, transitions and breath, I am meditating. When I am dancing, aware of every movement in my own body and my fellow dancers, I am meditating.

We often say that we do not have the time to meditate in our busy lives. If we simply cannot squeeze in even ten minutes a day for sitting meditation, we can always make our lives a living meditation. The choice is ours.