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The point of practicing meditation is to become aware of each aspect of our life — not just while sitting on a meditation cushion or chair, but in everything we do, as we do it. As the ancient and plain-spoken Zen teachers advise, When walking, walk; when eating, eat; when shitting, shit. Rough translation: in everything you do, be present; look no further than that which is right in front of you, right here, right now. “In all things be ordinary,” says Master Rinzai (780-866). 

Of course, it’s easier said than done! That’s why my teachers meditate two, four, and six hours every day — that why the Dalai Lama begins his day in meditation. That’s why they call it meditation or mindfulness practice. It’s not something learned once, then mastered, to be fixed for the rest of our lives. Each day, each moment, each breath is a new breath, has never been breathed before, will never occur again, ever!

To live meditatively is an ongoing challenge: it has no fixed goal, no finishing line — there are no trophies for best meditator. The reward, if any, lies in brief glimpses of the extraordinary amid the ordinary. Waking up from a night’s sleep, Zap! that first inkling of being alive (still, again). Recovering (however fleetingly) from pain and misery, Zap! no suffering for a split second. Feeling loved, truly valued, at ease, Zap! no fear, home at last.


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