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Are You Mindful 24/7?

July 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

What if the benefits of the relaxation exercises you do, such as breathing, visualization, guided imagery and hypnosis, continued 24/7? That would be pretty great, right?

I’d guess most people would hope and expect to get some benefit, say reduced pain, during their meditation practice. If this benefit continues outside of those 15 or 30 minutes, that’s extra. However, another way to look at meditation practices (and possibly other relaxation exercises) is that your period of practice, those 15 or 30 minutes, is just that – practice. And what you’re practicing for is the other 23 ½ hours – the rest of your life.

A reader, Kelli B., wrote in with these comments. She says, in summary:

These thoughts were spurred by someone with chronic pain who said that “the pain goes away when I meditate, but returns when I stop meditating.” I’ve noticed that people often assume that meditation is a special activity, one largely separate from the moment-by-moment unfolding of one’s day.

A fairly standard element of a deeper meditation practice is to aim to meditate throughout all daily activities. Meditation continues while performing other tasks, and in fact, sometimes makes them easier and less stressful.

What I’d like to offer is the following perspective. It isn’t a matter of meditating several times a day, but of aiming to treat whatever arises in one’s daily, moment-to-moment life, as an element arising in a meditation. This can be pain, or emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.

Many meditation traditions emphasize that the purpose of the separate meditation “sitting” is actually to develop mindfulness for the express purpose of eventually expanding the practice of mindfulness throughout one’s daily activities, and all of one’s moments. The most familiar examples of this are probably the Zen tradition’s treatment of simple daily work activities and personal relationships as platforms for meditation.

Meditation might be a much deeper resource for people when pursued more deeply and in an ongoing manner.

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