Imagine If Meditation Were Your Lifestyle

As a meditation teacher many people ask me how to make meditation a lifestyle. The allure of doing so is immediately apparent. Imagine spending your whole life with the same feeling of calm that you get when you meditate, no more stress or anxiety, just inner peace and serenity. Does it sound too good to be true? That’s because it is too good to be true.

Sorry. I hate to burst your bubble. And I don’t really care what you might have been promised by certain “gurus” like Jay Shetty, Jose Silva, [insert name of any of the other fraudsters]. If you’re looking for a life with absolutely zero pain then you are never going to get it. No. Never. 

But. But. But. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t live your life following the principles of meditation, being mindful, being compassionate, and all that jazz. It just means you have to do it with a sense of reality. 

Let me explain. . . 

What It Means To Live The Meditation Lifestyle

Living the meditation lifestyle means that we take the core principles of mindfulness and meditation, and we apply them to our everyday life. 

With that in mind, it’s worth reviewing exactly what meditation is about. It’s about:

  • Focusing on the present moment
  • Accepting both “bad” and “good” thoughts and emotions
  • Recognising the oneness we share with the world / universe / other living beings
  • Cultivating and maintaining compassion for all
  • Some people also believe that a meditation lifestyle should involve specific diets, exercise regimes, and the likes. Actually, things like diet and exercise are a result, not a cause. They are the result of having compassion for the body. I’ll explain this in more detail a little later.

When we live a meditation lifestyle we do all these things. We try to focus on now as much as possible, we accept that we will experience both pleasant and unpleasant states of mind and we neither cling to them nor fight them, we recognise that we are always in a symbiotic relationship with everyone else on the planet, and we make compassion our modus operandi.

So, let’s now look at exactly how to do all of that. 

How To Make Meditation Your Lifestyle

1: Focus On Now

Like Eckart Tolle wrote about in The Power Of Now, we want to focus on the present moment. The problem is that sadness makes us think of the past, anxiety makes us think of the future, and it can be a challenge to stay grounded in the present moment. 

To stay focused on now, we need to practice mindfulness, and my personal favorite way to do that is with what I call my “Mindful Senses Countdown”. Try the exercise below. 

Mindful Countdown Exercise

Use this exercise frequently to anchor yourself in the present moment. I personally do this exercise about eight times a day (it only takes a minute). It’s a great way to pull ourselves back into the present moment.

  1. Name five things you can see
  2. Now name four things you can feel
  3. Three things you can hear
  4. Two things you can smell
  5. One thing you can taste.

Other ways to focus on now include:

  • Use the Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  • Set reminders on your phone that tell you to stay in the moment
  • Use meditation to calm your mind (when the mind is calm we naturally focus on the present moment)

2: Practice Acceptance

When we are meditating we accept whatever comes along, such as our thoughts, feelings, and external distractions. We should strive for the same level of acceptance in our daily lives (note, acceptance is not resignation). 

Sometimes, it’s easy to accept things. If we’re having a good day at work, the sun is shining, and everyone is happy, then of course, acceptance comes easy.

Other times, it’s more challenging. Let’s say for instance that you’ve just heard that you’re going to be paid late, which means you’ll miss rent. It’s hard to accept that, especially because you didn’t do anything to deserve this royal balls-up. But it’s happening and you can’t do anything about it. Refusing to accept it will just cause you to suffer. It’s times like this I personally like to use this meditation for acceptance. 

And finally there are times when something truly devastating happens, and that’s when we want to do Radical Acceptance

Whatever type of day we are having, we should strive to live it with acceptance.

3. Recognise Oneness

When we become serenely relaxed in meditation, we experience the state of oneness. We feel our connection with the Earth and with other beings. It’s a concept that in Buddhism and yoga is called Samadhi. It is a joyous, blissful state in which we are still conscious of the body but we experience nini-funi (non duality).

It is good to have a sense of this same oneness in daily life. Now, we might not actually be at the same state of Samadhi, which is regarded as the highest level of concentration, but we can still be conscious of interconnectedness.

To do this, we can ask how each of our actions is affecting others. What influence are our actions having on other people, animals, and the planet? How can we act in ways that make a more positive impact on the world? 

4: Live With Compassion

One of the most popular meditation techniques in the world is Metta or “Loving Kindness“, a technique that is all about cultivating compassion. Many other meditations focus on the same thing: Karuna, Tonglen. Plus, perhaps the single most important aspect of Buddhism and many other spiritualities is to live with compassion. 

To make meditation a lifestyle we need to be compassionate, to others and to ourselves. Begin by being conscious of how your actions are affecting others, and by choosing to focus on deeds that ease the suffering of others and help them to feel joy. And at the same time, be compassionate to yourself. This includes choosing to be compassionate to the body such as by limiting toxins, eating healthily, and exercising. And it also means being compassionate to the mind, by meditating, avoiding information overload, and practicing good mental hygiene. 

5: Have intention and purpose

When we practice mind-body exercises such as tai chi, qigong, and yoga, we are consciously aware of our every movement. For instance, when we move through the 24 movements of Yang style tai chi, we are acutely aware of our intention to move and then of our precise motion. While we might not experience quite the same level of consciousness in everyday life, we can strive to set our intentions mindfully and to be conscious of our actions.

6: But Always Accept Imperfections

While we strive to live the meditation lifestyle and to follow the points that I’ve discussed above, we should also accept our humanity and forgive ourselves for any shortcomings. Again, this is something we do when we meditate. If we’re struggling to focus when we meditate we don’t chastise ourselves for it. Rather, we accept our imperfections and support ourselves as we continue to meditate. Let’s have that same degree of acceptance and forgiveness in our daily lives.

Final Thoughts

Meditation isn’t something we do for twenty minutes and then put away in the closet. No, meditation is a way of life. By living in accordance with the fundamental aspects of meditation, by being present, accepting, compassionate, and conscious of our actions, we can live lives of peacefulness and purpose.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.

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