I was recently on vacation with my sister, friend and aunt when they asked me to explain exactly WHAT meditation is. My sister, an artist, was most interested in the ways it makes you feel deeply sensitized to the world, rather than “transcending” outside it. I think I agree with her – that is my favorite type as well. Of course, “inside” and “outside” all become a little meaningless when you are on a long meditation retreat, but as a daily practice, say- walking to the train, sitting at my desk at work – eating breakfast – I do find it deeply rewarding to slow down and try and be as mindful as possible. I focus on feeling the chair beneath me, noticing how each step feels on my foot, tasting the food I am eating – slowly and deliberately.
Warning! If you try this approach, you might notice that slowing down brings you face-to-face with something that is bothering you that you are desperately trying to avoid. It happens to me all the time. I try to breath, slow down, and see if I can just be with whatever feelings arise in that moment, instead of trying to analyze or explain them, or RUN away. I physically ask myself, where is this feeling in my body? In the chest? In the stomach? Wherever it is, i focus on it, and breath into it – I do NOT ask questions about it. Its very hard for someone who loves talk therapy and analysis in general! I try and stick to this technique though, and it almost always becomes very very useful for getting through thick clouds of bad feelings that may not even be fully articulate-able into language.