“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.”
-Martin H. Fischer (German-born American physician and author)
When first learning meditation, many people assume that meditation is something that you only do in a special place at a special time.
It is useful to set aside a specific time and set up your own private space for meditation… but when you really begin to understand formal and informal practice… your approach will start to change… it will become easier and easier to meditate in every moment… or as Martin Fischer would say, the whole world will become your laboratory.
How do we go from a traditional model of meditation to meditating in every moment?
I encourage you toward a four step process:
- Sitting: Get still and silent in an upright, comfortable, seated posture.
- Standing: Get still and silent in an upright, comfortable, standing posture.
- Moving: Get still and silent while moving your body around slowly (Tai Chi and/or Yoga can be very valuable for this phase)
- Moment by Moment: Gradually get more and more still and silent while moving about your day, moment by moment.
But there is a quicker approach:
- Spend as much time as you reasonably can in formal practice, and do your best to turn the rest of your day into informal practice.
Learning Meditation: Formal & Informal
This information can save you a fortune!
People tend to get bored with the same information and/or techniques. Typically, once they are bored with old information (principles, techniques, etc.)… so they can feel like they are still advancing/learning/getting better, they will purchase a new product on the same topic. This ‘new information addiction’ not only wastes time, it can also get quite expensive.
When you learn to make the whole world your training ground… your attitude toward this will change. You will still be interested in new information and new perspectives, but you will know your learning is real… not just intellectual.
Here’s another cool Secret…
When you learn to do this with any practice, it will make it easier for any other practice. Bringing your awareness back to a practice again and again, builds focus. As you develop focus, you will notice that any activity in your life can benefit from increased focus.
But I think this sums it up best…
“You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way.”
-Marvin Minsky (co-founder of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.)
When you carry meditation with you in your daily life (or any other informal practice), you will learn to meditate in a variety of different external situations. More importantly, though, you will learn to meditate through a variety of different emotional states.
Remaining centered as a moving meditation while you face the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of life is incredibly rewarding… and in my opinion, it is the most useful long term goal of learning meditation.