If you’ve ever trained for a sport or worked with a trainer to gain or lose weight, you’ve learned only 20% of your desired physical change actually happens while training; the other 80% is through nutrition and maintenance. Similarly, your connection to the present moment that happens during your practice on a yoga mat or during prayer at a temple or church, accounts for only 20% of your soul’s ignition to infinite spirit. The other 80% comes off the mat and outside those temple walls. And yet more often than not, living in this technologically focused world that’s literally at your fingertips, the minute we finish class or service, we easily become distracted and forget. As the week progresses, our ignited light slowly dims until we find ourselves back in class remembering why we do it in the first place. Just like an athlete, it takes diligence, commitment and acute focus to become the beacon of Light our soul’s purpose lives to be.
The question is how when your life is packed with a 60-hour workweek, on top of click, click, clicking on your keyboard while you’re stirring spaghetti sauce and trying to change a diaper in time for the newest episode of “Mad Men.” Fill in the underlined words to tell your story. Here’s the thing, life is nonstop and always will be. In fact, that’s its very purpose for existence: expansion. So instead of our busy lives being the excuse for not meditating, let’s use it as the actual impetus for our personal expansion. By doing so, we’re not only clicking into life’s purpose, we’re actually taking the necessary steps to train our soul’s deeper awakening for personal empowerment.
Meditation in its simplest definition is “no thought.” What do you do for yourself that has nothing to do with work, taking care of the children or home, or anything else outside of you? Maybe it’s swimming, getting lost in a good book, painting, hiking—something you become so completely immersed in, you lose all sense of time and anything else in your life. This is meditation. For me, it’s cooking; I love the feeling of pulling vegetables and herbs out of my garden and piecing them together step by step to create a meal. I first learned my love of cooking while living at Deer Park Monastery: I was rapidly peeling carrots in the kitchen, as you do, when a nun stopped me, held my hand and said “Breathe in one peel, breathe out another peel.” Caught. Lost in thought and not present. Now admittedly, this isn’t something I do every time I peel carrots, but what it did do was open my eyes and heart to the realization we have the power to create meditation in everything we do. And I’ve never forgotten it.
You can take this same realization into your day-to-day activities: When you’re brushing your teeth feel every bubble foam sensation popping in your mouth. Next time you’re in line at Starbucks, instead of checking emails take a moment to send a little blessing to each person ahead of you. When you’re eating lunch, chew your sandwich slowly and savor every flavor. Next time you’re sitting in a meeting, thank the person next to you for being an awesome co-worker. When you’re stirring that spaghetti sauce for dinner, try the inhalation/exhalation exercise with each stir.
That’s just the beginning. Your schedule now becomes the actual training ground for your mindful moment to moment unfolding, turning the “everyday” into something extraordinary. This is the training your mind needs to tap into your soul’s infinite nature, which after some practice soon becomes second nature. You’re already an incredibly aware being. Imagine what you can create when you’re living 100% through the lens of your soul. The possibilities are limitless. And that’s exactly the point.