When we hear the word meditation, we often think about a dimly lit room with a cushion and maybe a candle or two. We picture a zen corner where we need to turn our minds off. Then, because that feels intimidating, we shy away. But the truth is, you can meditate wherever you are, whatever you're doing. And no, you don't have to control your mind.
First, before getting into how to meditate anywhere, let's define what meditation is.
While there are varying definitions of meditation depending on who you talk to, my favorite definition is that it is practice. When you meditate, you're practicing observing your inner world, watching your thoughts, being present to whatever arises. You're not trying to change anything. Rather, you're simply being with it.
Why is this practice? It's practice for the real world. Meditation helps us form the habit of getting in touch with our true nature. When we have a dedicated time and place to meditate, we get in the habit of paying attention to our inner world. We practice letting our thoughts and emotions come and go, without trying to change them.
Then when we step out into the real world - that is, when we get in the car to go to work, when we interact with our coworkers, and when we come back home to our families - this is all where the practice pays off. These are the situations that give us trouble, where we need the most work. Meditation helps us find that center we seek when chaos arises.
But meditation doesn't just have to happen while on the cushion. You can practice wherever you are.
Because meditation is simply being mindful of your inner environment - the thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations - you can do this anywhere, anytime, no matter what you're doing. In fact, when you approach any situation by first getting in touch with your inner state, you're better equipped to deal with reality.
When you center yourself, you're less likely to be thrown around by your inner, chaotic energies, and instead able to harmonize with the unfolding of reality in front of you, whatever that may look like.
As you go about your day and experience the world, by simply taking a moment to check in with yourself, you're practicing meditation. You're being mindful. That's no different than doing it on the cushion at home.
Meditating where you are doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing, either.
There's an inner world, and an outer world. Meditation doesn't ask you to stop interacting with the outer world. Rather, it invites you to check in with your inner world before trying to rearrange what's around you.
Meditate wherever you are, whatever you're doing. No one will ever know. That is, until they feel the presence you bring to the situation.
Live with substance! Gabe Orlowitz