Have you ever noticed that while your mind is often willing to focus when meditating, it will generally insist on lapsing into ‘dreamland' for the rest of the day?
It's almost as if it has categorized meditation as a special activity that only takes place at certain moments of the day.
But if meditations feels great, if it's good for our health and general wellbeing, then why not try to integrate it into everything you do?
If you have been reading my newsletters for a while, you'll know that I have often written about this topic and have previously even given lists of tips for meditating better.
In this article, I'm therefore going to change tack slightly and focus on how we can integrate meditation into our day – and give 6 tips for doing so.
The tips are easy-to-apply, enjoyable, and, if you work them, will help you maintain your meditation flow well beyond the times you are sitting on you meditation mat.
1. Value Meditation.
Unless you place a value on meditation, you are never going to have the discipline and energy required to integrate it into you day. Humans can happily put up even with great hardships if there is a good enough reason for it. When there is no good reason, they will quickly grow resentful.
Of course, you do value meditation. But it is not good enough for this to be a vague kind of ‘Oh yes, I know meditation is good for me and I should do more.' That is unlikely to get you focused when your day grows tricky.
Instead, you need to have the benefits of meditation firmly in your conscious mind.
You need to think about how meditation will give you greater inner balance and energy, how it will improve your health and relationships with others. Then, once you have these benefits (whatever they might be for you) firmly in mind, you need to ‘feel' them.
Imagine (visualize) scenes where you are walking about in a bubble of meditation energy, where you are meeting external chaos with equanimity. Feel how good that feels! Make it a visceral thing. A real bodily sensation. This step isn't about indulging the rational mind; it is about creating a physical experience through visualization.
If you can really feel the benefits of meditation (and not just rationally understand them) then it will be far easier to have the energy needed to integrate it into you day.
2. Set the stage.
This means doing some formal meditation (or other such exercise that connects you to meditation energy, like T'ai Chi, Qi Gong or Reiki) in the morning before you start your day.
The idea here is to anchor yourself in meditation energy – energy that you will then nurture for the rest of the day.
It is difficult to connect to meditation energy in busy, energetically chaotic surroundings (e.g. most people's working environment). But it is not so difficult to maintain your meditation energy in such places if you are already connected to it.
So take time to connect every morning and then do what you can to stay connected as you go about your day.
3. Use affirmations.
You don't need to go crazy on this point. You don't have to spend every moment of the day repeating your affirmation. But if you repeat it in the morning and on a few occasions throughout the day, you'll find you have more energy and focus for your meditation. Words are like magic spells. They are energy that we send out into the universe to create our reality. It makes sense to harness their power constructively.
An affirmation for our purpose might go something like this:
Every moment of my day, I am connected to meditation energy.
No matter what I do, I am in a meditative state of being.
4. Use books, videos and audio programs to keep you focused and inspired.
There is a concept called ‘neural mirroring'. Basically, it explains that we become like our environment.
If our bedroom is in a mess, we'll tend to find it harder to be settled and calm. If we hang around with drunken hooligans, it's unlikely we'll feel very meditative and peaceful. As the saying goes, ‘If you lie down with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas.'
Of course, the reverse is true as well. Mix with good company and their good qualities will rub off on you.
That is why it pays to spend some time with wise teachers and inspirational people – if not in person, then at least via books, videos and audio programs. If you do this each day, you'll almost certainly find you are more balanced, meditative and focused on the kind of person you wish to be.
Some suggested teachers you might consider are: Eckhart Tolle (you'll find lots of his free videos on YouTube), Adyashanti (try reading ‘Emptiness Dancing' or watching his videos on YouTube) and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (read ‘I Am That').
For audio programs, I am a fan of Tony Robbins. He has a lot of pragmatic and easy-to-apply tips for getting the most out of yourself.
5. Use meditation reminders.
For this purpose, some people tattoo themselves or wear a certain ring or necklace that helps remind them to stay in a meditative state. The problem with these things, however, is that while they work to begin with, after a short time we don't notice them anymore.
A more successful approach (popular in certain Buddhist circles), is to use ‘triggers' to remind us to focus. A trigger might be something like a doorframe. Here, each time you go through one, you remind yourself to be meditative.
Another trigger might be your mobile phone ringing. In this case, its ringing will be a reminder to stay in the moment.
To keep things fresh, it is a good idea to regularly change the trigger. They will then serve as handy little ‘wake up calls'.
6. Harness the power of groups.
If you've ever been to one of our Om Reiki practice nights, you'll have experienced how powerful group energy can be. At a practice night, you barely need to lift a finger to feel large amounts of healing energy flowing.
The reason for this is that the moment humans come into contact with each other, they connect energetically. Their energy fuses and what one person does, thinks or feels, affects the others. This is why we can behave so irrationally in large, 'emotional' gatherings (like soccer games and political rallies).
The flipside of this is that if we are with wise people with good energy, then their energy will positively affect us. We will be energetically drawn to experience the world as they do.
What's more, when people come together with a common intent (say, to meditate), then the collective intent has a force far greater than the intent of any individual. This can help us both sink into deep meditative states and learn new techniques far more quickly than we would alone.
Nothing particularly new here, but we need to convert this knowledge into action and find ways to meet with groups that will have a positive energetic impact on us. Ideally, we can meet weekly with such groups and then, periodically, do courses or retreats over 2 or more days for a massive energetic boost.
Retreats and courses are particularly useful because of their intensity and duration.
The hours spent in meditation compound and help individuals cross key energetic thresholds that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Think of it like this: Image you normally have an energy level of 4, but need to get to an energy level of 8 to have a new insight. Going to weekly practice might raise you a couple of points each time, but since, over the next few days, you are likely to fall back to your usual 4, you'll never make it to an 8 and have the insight (or key energetic shift). During a weekend gathering, however, your energy experiences will bit by bit accrue until you have moved all the way from 4 to 8 and beyond. That is why if you think back on your past experiences of courses, you will find that afterwards your healing and meditation almost always took on new life.
So use the power of groups, use the energy of others and massively accelerate your meditation growth.