It took me a long time to see what meditation really is. For years I made it a ritual that took up at least an hour, each morning and each evening, requiring total silence. Any noise or distraction could break my concentration, annoying me by bursting the beautiful bubble of peace I had created around myself. Then I would slowly return to the real world of family, business worries, tense faces. If only I could spend all my time feeling calm and peaceful, I used to think.

   I love the stories about Ajahn Chah, the Thai Buddhist monk who influenced many Westerners who stayed in his monastery. He would make a point of disturbing their beautiful bubbles by giving them plenty of physical tasks to take up their time. He didn’t want monks sitting all day in isolation creating a perfect world for themselves, separate from the real world. 

   Life is work. We have tasks to carry out all the time, when we are not asleep. But we need to find space to calm our minds in the midst of all this daily activity. Meditation doesn’t have to be something special you do at a special time in a special place. It can become a habit, a brief interval of peace while at work or waiting for a plane, or even when you are driving. Bringing your mind back into focus, becoming aware for a few minutes of your feelings, of what it feels like just to be you, here at this moment. 

By Mike Watkins