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  • Written by  Jerome Stone
  • // Friday, 11 November 2011 22:14
Jerome Stone

A(nother) Day in a (different) Life...

Inspired by the previous post from Marieke van Vugt, I decided to try my hand at sharing what a "normal" day of work-integrating-meditation looks like.

Since preparing to publish my book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, and starting my own business, the unfortunate fact is that the time for my "formal" practice has suffered. Yet, while I lament and moan about the lack of time to formally practice, it seems like the integration of practice into my daily life, and my ability to take life onto the path, has increased.

Unlike so many others, I don't tend to use an alarm to awaken. The unfortunate fact (or fortunate, depending upon how you look at it) is that my mind awakens me at about the same time each day, 5:40am. Then, like so many others, I have to decide whether to get up and practice formally, or lie in bed and cuddle with my wife for an extra few minutes before the day starts. I often take the middle road; I sit up immediately and - without even peeing first! - begin my practice of meditation. Often times, I plug myself into my iPod and listen to teachings from Sogyal Rinpoche while practicing. I can also keep the cuddle-factor here, because my wife - sensing my awakening - cozies up close while I practice.

After oh-so-few minutes of meditation (or aspiring to meditate while being distracted with the already arising thoughts of the day), it's out of bed to play for a short while with my son, to enjoy a present moment or two with him, before starting our morning routine. Showers. Breakfast. Some sharing and talk. Plans for the day and then...

Fast forward to after my son leaves for school with my wife or after I've dropped him off.

I head to my local office, usually Saxy's Cafe, to begin my writing/blogging/planning for the day. While my tendency is to open my iTunes and listen to Phish, I remind myself of the benefits of having a few teachings in my mind while getting started, so I usually listen to a few short and favorite teachings while I check my e-mail, look at my to-do list, get a cup of decaf and the like.

The magic happens when at some point - or many points on good days - my mind turns toward my teacher and the teachings while I'm writing my blogs, or working on my next book, or interviewing people to join my business. It's at those moments that my mind experiences a clarity and stillness that I can't necessarily invoke at other times. I settle into my mind, my practice settles into that "space," and I'm "meditating." I use the word "meditate" because it is in these times that I'm relatively undistracted, free from concerns other than the present, am not altering my mind to any significant degree, and am feeling a deep appreciation and devotion for my teacher and the teachings.

What these experiences remind me of is that given adequate time to practice formally over a period of time, life presents us with numerous - thousands - of opportunities throughout the day to "practice" meditation. While it may not even be so much a matter of "practicing," it's these few moments of freedom from my habitual tendency of occupying my mind with rubbish that I am reminded of the meditative mind, or the mind in its natural state.

Giving in to not having the time to formally practice, while having all of the opportunities to practice informally can prevent us from practicing just as much as only meditating while on the cushion while not integrating that practice into our daily life.

My day continues like this, short periods of meditation, meditating with the present in mind, while carrying out the "mundane" activities of living. I return home, joyfully reunited with my wife and son, carry out the evening routines, exhaust myself with the unending list of "to-dos" before heading to bed. Once in bed, I am again reminded of the need to connect with my practice, and so - to the chagrin of my habitual mind - sit upright in bed and engage in the art and practice of meditation, integrating what I've learned throughout the day into my dedication, as the distractions of a mind still far away from any foreseeable conclusion, whirl about in my head. And then I sleep...