Meditating at Home
image most often associated with meditation is that of a sitting Buddha
fixed in a crossed-legged posture. While such a representation is
undoubtedly inspirational and aesthetically pleasing, it unfortunately
suggests to the uninitiated that meditation is a static, 'statue-like'
pursuit practised only in temples.
If meditation is to have any relevance to everyday life it has to be
done at home. This does not just mean your residence but wherever your
attention happens to reside. To meditate at home requires a 'hands-on',
dynamic practice that is not restricted to any particular time, place or
When applied in this way, it naturally becomes integrated into
the ordinary activities of life and becomes the basis for a meditative
lifestyle in everyday life. Yet it has to be acknowledged that
integrating meditation into daily life is not easy.
Therefore you need to purposefully set yourself up to do it; good
intention is not enough. There has to be commitment. So consider your
priorities, what is more important, hours sitting in front of the TV
screen (or computer monitor) or a half to an hour or so of sitting
The regular daily home sit is the anchor for the practice.
Even if it is only used as a form of mental hygiene, as in 'unstressing',
it will greatly contribute towards harmonising family and work
relationships. Essentially meditating at home is about paying attention.
The actual meaning of 'attention' indicates its practice: 'to attend
upon', 'to be present with'. So by being attentive 'presence of mind' is
developed. While there are degrees of attention (down to lack of
attention), it can be said that there are two types: natural attention,
which is 'automated attention' and the intentionally 'deployed'
attention that is developed in 'meditative attention'.
Deployed attention is either passive, or in the sense of being applied,
active. The passive mode is 'bare attention' that is just registering
what is happening, in a receptive state of mind, without reaction. While
the active mode of attention is applied when any kind of movement or
action is done, including active reflective thought on things observed.
So what do you pay attention to? Your own body and mind. There are four
areas to establish attention on: Body - either tuning into its elemental
qualities and/or sensations or actively monitoring body movements and
actions; Feelings - knowing the feeling tone as either pleasant,
unpleasant or neutral (not to be confused with emotion); Mind-states -
happiness, sadness, calm, elation, etc.; Mental Content - the things of
the mind e.g. thinking, concepts, ideas. Whatever is the predominant
experience in any of these 'four spheres of attention' is used as a
frame of reference to help guide the practice of paying attention to
whatever is happening in your body and mind from moment to moment.
It is important to get your bearings. So it is a matter of literally
coming to your senses, by being attentive at one of the (Six
Sense-Doors): these are the five senses, seeing, hearing, and smelling,
tasting and touching plus the sixth sense or mind-door which is the
consciousness or knowing.
By being present with bare attention at any of
these six sense-doors you observe what happens between the senses and
their objects during a sense impression. One thing to notice when
watching at a sense-door during a sense impression is the feelings that
arise. If the feeling is unpleasant a negative reaction occurs; if it's
pleasant grasping arises. Thus the mind is most just reacting: liking,
The result is that you are being caught in the conditioned cycle of
suffering at the linkage of feelings and grasping. But there is no need
to be. By intercepting the primary feeling at a sense-door, without the
following emotion, the feeling will go no further, therefore no
attachments, no liking or disliking, end of story, end of suffering.
ability to 'home in' is really the key to this practice. Get your
bearings at a sense-door and keep in mind the 'four areas of attention'.
Success in doing so also depends very much on the way you are relating
to things: witnessing the experience rather than just reacting to it;
having an attitude of acceptance of all thoughts, feelings and mind
states into awareness without discrimination or selection.
The kind of 'spaciousness in the mind' allows you to be more receptive
and intimate with what is observed. Awareness of Daily Activities For
awareness to deepen, continuity of attention, which gives momentum to
the practice, needs to be maintained for at least a few hours in the
Continuity arises through careful and precise attention to
movements, actions, feelings and mind-states, (whatever is prominent),
for as long as possible in whatever situation you are in during the
daily routine. Nothing can be dismissed as unimportant: domestic chores,
eating, cleaning your teeth.
Any and every movement and activity is
repeatedly noted in order to establish the habit so that it becomes your
second nature to note during the daily routine. Of course, this is not
easy to establish and so requires patience, perseverance and a sense of humour, especially when you feel frustrated by constant forgetfulness.
Set yourself up to do a daily mindfulness exercise using 'triggers' as
reminders. Such a trigger can be every time there is contact with water
to remind you to be present with whatever you are doing while you are
doing it. So what are the situations when you come into contact with
water: washing your hands, the dishes, hosing the garden, washing the
dog, etc. If you succeed only once in paying full attention it can be
the start of establishing the habit of being mindful at home. It is very
helpful as well to reinforce your efforts by reviewing or taking stock
of your daily notes at the end of the day.
You can record your efforts in a meditation diary, so long as you do not
make judgments on the quality of the practice or be discouraged by blank
pages. It is important to maintain the daily meditation sits at home as
a way of sustaining and stabilizing your practice.
With a busy life it
is easy to convince yourself that you really haven't the time anymore to
maintain the regular sitting or when you are feeling tired, just want to
drop it. Naturally, when you get stressed or overtired there is
resistance to facing the stress by meditating.
But it is usually only an initial resistance you have to face before you
go through it. Also, do not evaluate your practice, thinking if the
meditation isn't of sufficient good quality you are wasting your time.
It is all grist for the mill; you must persist as it is vital to
maintain the habit of practice to get the long-term benefits.
There is a
saying that the beginning and the end of a journey are essentially the
same. This is especially true of meditation. For there is nowhere you
need to go to discover your true nature other than where you can be now
- meditating at your home-base. (Courtesy Buddha Dharma Education