Meditation vs Daily Life

I meditate in a variety of ways. Sometimes I do walking meditations. I enjoy eating meditations. I'll meditate on peace or on friendship. This sometimes leads people to ask me how these things are different from "regular" eating or "regular" thinking on friendship.

We're all different, and we all approach life differently, so these are my personal thoughts on how I examine the nature of what I do.

Meditation vs Daily Life My aim with meditation is to train my brain to be calm and focused. If I can train my brain to do that, then in the times that I need it to be calm and focused - perhaps in a crisis, or perhaps during an important project - my brain will do that for me. It will have learned the skills to release distractions and to stay on the topic at hand. Hopefully having my brain this way will help in everything I do, in every task as I go throughout my day.

A Zen monk would probably say that a healthy aim is to in essence "live every moment as a meditation". That if we can be attentive to each task we do, we will then do that task to the best of our ability. Even if our task is to brainstorm creative ideas for our novel, we do that best when we are actively brainstorming, not letting our mind get distracted by thoughts of tomorrow's football game or worries about last week's argument.

So, for example, if I do an eating meditation, I strive to focus on the food before me. If my mind drifts away to a project that is looming, or worries about a discussion from last week, I let those go. I train my brain to think about what I'm eating, appreciate its flavors, appreciate all the people involved in bringing it to me.

A recent episode of "Arrow" brought this home to me. In it, the character was starving on an island. He was willing to eat meat someone else had killed - but he actively wouldn't kill a small bird to eat it. So he was willing to benefit from dead animals, but he refused to be a part of the chain directly. We should all be more aware of the things that go on to the food we eat, and choose wisely. If we really are that upset about animals dying for our nourishment, maybe we shouldn't eat animals.

My great-grandmother raised chickens, and she ate them. She cared for them, killed them, and appreciated their gift to her. It seems we have lost some of that along the way.

A meditation on friendship is about holding the idea of friendship in my mind and focusing on it. If other thoughts drift in, I let them go. I retain that idea of friendship in my mind and focus in on that. It's the focus that is key here. "Thinking" often involves drifting mind and distractive thoughts. Meditation is about keeping that one idea there.

To me it's sort of like being on a ship and approaching another ship - and trying to keep that other ship in the view of a telescope. The ship is moving around. The other ship is moving too. It takes gentle, active attention to keep the focus on the one thing that is the goal. The aim is not to write an essay, or argue a point, but simply to absorb the essence of the concept. If I think about friendship I envision my friends smiling at me, embracing me, and we simply are.

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