Meditation is a formal practice. When I meditate I choose to take time in a reserved place to engage my mind in mental exercise. The exercise requires much exertion; I direct and redirect the wandering mind to my breath, to the sounds and other perceptions around me, to the stream of thoughts passing through my brain like boxcars in a train, or perhaps allow my direction to be choiceless, just noticing, not judging. The formal practice of meditation is necessary if one is to become mindful.
Mindfulness is an experience of being awake moment-to-moment non-judgmentally. When I meditate I cultivate deeper mindfulness. When I have been meditating regularly then my capacity to be mindful in my day-to-day routine is enhanced. Mindful in my waking moments, I remain calm and focused, centered and relaxed. No matter what happens, I yield to the experience of the moment, able to work with arising reality with greater skill and compassion.
Bhante Gunaratana is a Buddhist monk and renowned teacher from Sri Lanka. My good friend Scott Caplan recently forwarded this video of Bhante G. discussing the nature of meditation. It is a good reminder of how meditation can change your life, and a good reminder that meditation is a daily task to be taken seriously. The fruit of meditation, mindfulness, is precious. Enjoy Bhante G.’s wisdom in this five minute video: