Author Topic: Is meditation really more effective than just practicing everyday mindfulness?  (Read 2161 times)

Ja192827

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It is commonly taught that "on the cushion" meditation makes it easier for us to be mindful in everyday activities. Isn' t it sufficient to just practice mindfulness while we perform our daily activities, which will in turn lead to more mindfulness? It seems that the physical act of meditation(eyes closed, sitting, focusing on breathing) does not represent our conventional daily activities, so can anyone explain why meditation is more effective at exercising the mindfulness muscle than the actual act of being mindful when doing things like washing the dishes, etc? Thanks in advance.

rogp99

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I partially agree with you, though, but the main problem is most lifestyles are not conductive to full-blown practice, so some time need to be set aside for physical seclusion.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 03:17:41 PM by rogp99 »

Ja192827

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So after a few weeks of meditation, wouldn't that be sufficient to build a foundation/habit to replace meditation with what seems is the more practical alternative, everyday mindfulness?

stillpointdancer

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I think the scientific evidence is for a meditation practice. Maybe just ten minutes every couple of days if combined with everyday mindfulness. The act of sitting in meditation, doing nothing, seems to bring about a physical rewiring in the brain that other normal activities don't do. When the rewiring becomes permanent, the act of mindfulness in everyday life will, I think, then enhance your changes.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Ja192827

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I think the scientific evidence is for a meditation practice. Maybe just ten minutes every couple of days if combined with everyday mindfulness. The act of sitting in meditation, doing nothing, seems to bring about a physical rewiring in the brain that other normal activities don't do. When the rewiring becomes permanent, the act of mindfulness in everyday life will, I think, then enhance your changes.

Makes sense. I can accomplish a lot more by being mindful while doing chores vs just sitting. Might take a bit more meditation to build that frame of mind. Thank you.

Matthew

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It is commonly taught that "on the cushion" meditation makes it easier for us to be mindful in everyday activities. Isn' t it sufficient to just practice mindfulness while we perform our daily activities, which will in turn lead to more mindfulness?

It depends upon your reason for practicing meditation. If you are wishing to find yourself more centred, calm, less reactive - and more responsive - to the world around you, then yes, perhaps "meditation in action" is enough. If you wish to realise deeper levels of understanding of your "self" and the world in which we live then more time on the cushion may be advisable.

It seems that the physical act of meditation(eyes closed, sitting, focusing on breathing) does not represent our conventional daily activities ...


That description does not even represent meditation. Some sit with eyes closed, some with eyes open. Meditation can be undertaken while sitting, standing, walking and laying down. It can be focused on the breathing, on thought .. on many things.

... can anyone explain why meditation is more effective at exercising the mindfulness muscle than the actual act of being mindful when doing things like washing the dishes, etc? Thanks in advance.

There is no such thing as the "mindfulness muscle" though your metaphor will help explain the answer to your question: If you want to develop your biceps will doing lots and lots of washing dishes whilst being mindful of the biceps make them big and strong? No, you will need to lift heavy weights repeatedly, increasing the weights as your muscles in the arm grow stronger and are able to cope with the load. It is the same with meditation. Mindfulness is but one part of the picture in meditation. There are other qualities one develops with practice too, such as calm, non-attachment/equanimity, insight and compassion. There is only so much one can do without secluding oneself from everyday activities in developing these "muscles" of meditation. That is why on the cushion practice is more effective at developing such wholesome qualities: there is less distraction from our mindfulness of compassion, for example, or our lack of it, when we are sat on our arses being mindful of compassion and doing that alone. Yet you will not come to a point of being able to be mindful of compassion in exclusion of other phenomena without first developing a relaxed yet intense ability to concentrate - one of the other fruits of meditation/mindfulness practice - and this one is particularly important, and particularly hard to develop in daily activities alone.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 09:23:14 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Ja192827

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Matthew, you broke things down very well, and I now have a better understanding of how meditation can be of benefit, the most important for me being that of concentration.


Matthew

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Ja,

You are most welcome. Concentration is utterly fundamental. It must not be forced: it is developed in a calm or "cool" state. This is definitely something that is enhanced by formal practice in a quiet environment.

It is also worth examining the other seven folds of the eightfold path. Basic morality is also fundamental to growth in understanding and compassion.

Peace,

Matthew
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 11:01:32 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Meditative

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I may be wrong, but like Matthew said, time on the cushion is like a focused weight lifting session in the gym, whereas everyday mindfulness is like learning to apply that new strength to everyday life.

stillpointdancer

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I may be wrong, but like Matthew said, time on the cushion is like a focused weight lifting session in the gym, whereas everyday mindfulness is like learning to apply that new strength to everyday life.
Yes, the metaphor 'like training for a sport' is useful. Your one or two basic meditations can be seen as the 'keeping generally fit' part, and then specific meditations such as mindfulness or insight are similar to further exercises to help a particular sport. You then go and play the sport. But of course, you have to keep fit, keep the gym work going, reflecting on how your last sports event went.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Ja192827

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I was debating whether to do a Goenka retreat or not, but you guys sold me on "on the cushion" meditation, so I plan on signing up.

 

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