You may have noticed that life is a mixture of quiet times and loud times, busy times and peaceful times.
Psychologically, too, your brain likes to go in cycles. You are not asleep all the time, and you are not awake all the time. You may have noticed that even your moods have cycles. Nothing is quite still. It is one of the occupational hazards of being alive.
Even experienced meditators will be aware of a pattern of living. After all, one of the reasons meditation exists as a practice, is that it counteracts some of the symptoms of busy and worried living. We need times of peace, because we are subject to times when we are pressurised not to be peaceful.
WOULD IT EVEN BE HEALTHY TO BE MINDFUL ALL THE TIME?
Mindfulness is living in awareness of one’s being and environment, taking joy in freedom without becoming overattached to the pleasure and pain involved in living. Whenever we feel ourselves being drawn into unhealthy attachment, unhealthy repulsion, or unhealthy uncaring, we are able to bring ourselves back into simple awareness.
In this way, mindfulness gives us a chance to remain free of misguided dependence and addiction, and free of damaging anger and irritation. On the face of it, this freedom is a desirable consequence, and therefore it might indeed be healthy to be mindful all the time.
NOT PUTTING EVERYTHING INTO YOUR WORK
If this is right, then you won’t be able to work indiscriminately. If you have a job that requires you to focus on it to the exclusion of everything else in your life, then you may have to sacrifice some of that. You may not be able to give everything to commerce, for instance, while at the same time being aware of the healthiness of giving. There will be times when a mindful approach spots inconsistencies in your behaviour, and you might want to drop behaviours which are so extreme that they compromise your, and others’, health.
NOT RUSHING AROUND
Equally, you won’t be able to time-pressure yourself. If you lead a life which involves rushing from appointment to appointment, with no spare time, then you may have to sacrifice some of that. Your diary may have to leave space in itself. You may have to learn to say no to constant demands, or to constant guilt. You may have to set aside time for better pacing and prioritising, for relaxing and contemplating.
BEING MINDFUL AND ENERGETIC
FInally, some say that one needs to do one’s busy thing first, and then meditate mindfully as an antidote. This assumes that beng energetic, and mindful meditation, are mutually exclusive.
However, it is perfectly possible to apply oneself energetically, while at the same time practicing relaxed focus. It is one of the principles behind many martial arts, the idea that even rapid, assertive activity can be done mindfully.
How much of the day do I spend being mindful?
Is it only at meditation times, when I perform certain rituals, and separate myself from the rest of the world?
Can I extend my practice further into my daily life, so that I can add wisdom and discrimination to everything I do, from dawn till dusk?
Instead of alternating between mindless activity and mindful reflection, can I merge activity and reflection more consistently, so that I remain reflective even while apparently busy?
Can I be like a practitioner of a martial art, focusing my energy instead of losing it, mastering skills instead of abusing them, and applying my abilities with wisdom instead of throwing them around indiscriminately?
Perhaps, indeed, I can be mindful all the time.