“Zazen practice and everyday activity are one thing. We call zazen everyday life, and everyday life zazen. But usually we think, ‘Now zazen is over, and we will go about our everyday activity.’ But this is not the right understanding. They are the same thing. We have nowhere to escape.”
– Shunryu Suzuki in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
It comes to us obviously that, if we want to master playing the piano or a certain sport, we must dedicate a lot of time to deliberate practice. Without practice, you can only dwindle or plateau. We should think about our mindfulness practice in the same way.
Sitting meditation or any other type of intentional meditation is the tool that we use for disciplined practice. It’s the months of training before the season, the hours spent mastering a new piece of music. Every moment in those intentional periods of time is an opportunity to bring our attention back to the present and stretch our mindfulness muscles.
What’s different is that the recital or the big game happens constantly, in everyday moments. The most important play of the game comes upon us unrelentingly, often in the most unexpected times, when we are tired, challenged, and the least prepared.
In a way, it’s wonderful that life bombards us with these opportunities that push us. Those are the moments that test our discipline and where we fall to the level of our training. But those are also the opportunities to perform, shine and rise to all that we’re worked towards, to the people we want to become.
That is the everyday discipline of mindfulness.