In Patanjalii’s Yoga Sutras, the 8 limbs include Pratyahara (withdrawing the senses), Dharana (intense focus), and Dhyana (meditation, or the uninterrupted awareness). Each of these limbs is in essence some form of meditation. Meditation therefore is often a part of a daily yoga practice, along with the physical postures and breathing exercises.
The number of ways and types of meditation is just as great as the number and ways of doing yoga poses. In this post I’ll explore one way to incorporate meditation into your day. This approach is called mindfulness meditation. Within this form you do things in a meditative or mindful manner, paying attention to whatever you are doing in that moment. I ran across an excellent explanation of this in a book (The Miracle of Mindfulness, 1975) by Thich Nhat Hanh.
“I usually wash the dishes after we’ve finished the evening meal, before sitting down and drinking tea with everyone else. One night, Jim asked if he might do the dishes. I said, ‘Go ahead, but if you wash the dishes you must know the way to wash them.’ Jim replied, ‘Come one, you think I don’t know how to wash the dishes?’ I answered, ‘There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.’…
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.” (p. 4-5).
The reason to practice mindfulness in your life is just as these paragraphs explain – to actually live the minutes of your life. Have you ever wondered where a day went? It may be that you could enjoy more, and feel less like life is slipping by practicing paying attention. Try to bring mindfulness into something each day, be it brushing your teeth, getting dressed, or even washing your dishes. See if the being present during that one activity starts to bring more mindfulness to other areas of your life as well.