My dear friend Christie and I met a monk in Thailand who said to us, “You can meditate anywhere. You don’t need to be in the meditation hall.” It was quite profound at the time because we were looking for a place to meditate. It hadn’t occurred to us to meditate on the sidewalk. I figured that if he said that it was ok, it would work.
I haven’t looked back since.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about meditation versus presence… If the point of meditation is to practice being present, to practice noticing what is happening right now, do I have to meditate to be present?
In other words, if meditation helps us focus on the present moment, if it helps us focus on something that is happening right now, do I have to meditate in order to do it?
Or really simply: Can I be present with out meditating?
YES, YES and YES!
In any given moment of my life I can take a moment to notice where I am and what I am doing. In fact I do this throughout my day. So do you. You do this when you pause for a brief moment and check to see if you have your keys when you leave. You do this when you pause to check if there is enough petrol in your car or money on your metro card. You do this when you look around at who is at work today. You do this when you glance at yourself in the mirror to check your hair or make sure that you’ve gotten your hands clean.
You do this multiple times a day.
You just don’t think about it this way.
And you can if you like.
As you go through your day, you can start to notice those moments when you’re naturally present.
You can also choose to be present for moments at random if you like. You can pause on the street corner and take a look at where you are. Even if you’ve been there a thousand times, it will be unique in this moment. It will never be the same way again. Something will have changed by the time you get there next. Can you see the differences? Are the sounds different? Do you feel different standing there? Things will change.
Of course, now I’ve created a practice out of it.
You don’t need to be this formal about it. You don’t have to turn it into a game or a practice. You can just pause and notice the street corner… And then go on your way.
Another friend of mine, Esther, introduced me to Kitchen Yoga. She said you could practice yoga in your kitchen while bending over to get a pan from under the counter, stretching up to get a plate, or twisting around to open the fridge.
I’m suggesting a similar kind of “non-practice” practice.
I’m going to start calling it Sidewalk Presence.
Yep, I can be present anywhere and anytime. I just notice where I am in this moment and voila, I’m present. And so can you. No practice needed.