We call it meditation “practice” for a reason. Meditation in and of itself is not an end. It is not a goal. It is only useful to us insofar is it helps us bring the mindfulness we cultivate into the rest of our day.
That’s why we call it practice. We are literally practicing for the rest of our day. We are practicing for life. We work with thoughts and emotions as they arise during meditation. We let them go and they begin to loosen their grip on us. As we maintain our focus on our breath and the present moment, we are training our mind to bring that awareness and mindfulness into the rest of our day. We are able to respond to whatever comes our way during the day with equanimity, responding out of the clear-minded awareness that we cultivate when we practice.
Also, when it comes to meditation, we consider our whole day practice. Whether we are praying, working, exercising, walking the dog, or enjoying conversation with a friend over a beer, it is always an opportunity to practice cultivating cultivating mindfulness and awareness of God’s presence.
Thus, our whole life is one big spiritual practice. The daily grind is not separate from our life of faith, not separate from worship, not separate from God.
This is important to point out, because here in the west, we love to compartmentalize everything. Our work life is separate from our home life, which is separate from our faith life, etc. I bemoan the disconnect between our life of faith and the rest of our life. It is as if the “God stuff,” the prayer, the faith, the following Jesus, is something that only happens on Sunday morning (and only for about an hour), and then we are free to go on our way back to the “real world” where we don’t have to think much about our faith for another week.
This dissonance is self-defeating, because it is precisely in the field of Monday-Saturday that our faith plays out. It is where we follow Jesus. It is almost as if worship is practice for the rest of the week.
Think about it. At worship we are fed and nourished. Washed clean and raised up. Taught and reminded of God’s unfailing grace. We are gathered, and then we are sent out. We are sent out the doors of our worship gathering to live in the world having been strengthened and shaped by worship. Worship itself is a spiritual practice because it prepares us to live in the world a certain way. It shapes the way we view and understand ourselves, those around us, and the world in which we live.
Therefore, no matter what we do, no matter how mundane we may find our activities, it is all an opportunity to live out our faith. To bring a worshipful state of mind. To cultivate an awareness of God’s presence. To act in ways in which we understand ourselves as Jesus’ 21st century disciples.