Meditation in Action: Mindfulness in daily life – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Shambhala


The other day I talked a little bit about mind/body in meditation and in relationship, personally, to running, since I’m engaged in that sport and activity, and how the notion of meditation and meditation in action. So people may assume that meditation is a sedentary activity and when they hear “meditation in action” it may be an oxymoron; they may think this is a strange combination. But the notion is that actually when you’re meditating in a still way, that what it allows you to do is grab a hold of your mind. You possess your mind. You know, in Tibetan we say, like, nyam len. You bring something into experience. You use your mind. You harness your mind. A lot of times our mind is very scattered. The more scattered our mind is, the more discursive, the more energy gets dissipated, the more stressed out, the more irritated we become. So meditation is gathering that energy, consciousnesses…the sight and the sound… all the consiousnesses. It’s gathering it in. So when we gather it in, it becomes stronger. Just like a family who’s scattered and you bring in all the members; it becomes stronger. You know? There’s just a lot more energy. So meditation is gathering of the mind like that and then focusing on the really important themes. And meditation in action is just taking that theme that you’ve developed by sitting still that’s really focused, and then engaging your life with it. So if we’re contemplating and we’re meditating on the themes of awareness, mindfulness, contentment, satisfaction, you know, practicing being satisfied… practicing being satisfied with what is happening. When your mind is satisfied with the present moment, when it’s meditating, it feels settled, we can get up off the cushion and have this feeling of goodness, this feeling of balancedness and saying “I’m okay”. “I feel balanced; I feel strong.” So as soon as I get off the cushion or the meditation seat and I see something that makes me feel inadequate or I see something that makes me desirous or I lose my focus or it steals my mind, at that moment we can say, “I’m going to practice meditation in action”. I’m going to be taking a theme that I’ve developed and now I’m living my life, but I’m gonna continue the theme of centeredness, the theme of strong vitality. And from that point of view, we can engage in life and as we’re doing life, we have practiced self-awareness or knowing what we’re doing. In Tibetan it’s called sheshin — currently, or presently knowing what we’re doing. So meditation in action just means you’re taking a theme that’s very, very important and then beginning to mix it with life, or bring it out in life. So meditation in action is actually the result or you could say it’s the fruition. It’s what meditation should go towards, because the point is not to be sitting there for the whole day, but you may be sitting there for an hour or sitting there for 20 minutes developing a strong theme and then mixing it. So, what happens when you mix it with life? Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we make mistakes. We realize, “Oh, I lost my focus. I lost my attention. This took my mind”. And then we come back and we say, “Oh, I learned from that. I saw what happened”. And then when we’re re-entering into meditation again, again we’re taking the knowledge of living, we mix it into our meditation; it gives us further insight and fuel; and then we get up. So every time we’re stronger and stronger as we go about doing things. And traditionally we talk about there’s various ways you can have meditation in action. You know, you can practice by, for example, the six paramitas. You can practice generosity, discipline, patience, exertion… all these elements you can practice in your life. It has to come from a wellspring. It has to be developed. I think often what happens is that people do not have the strengthening, which is referring to meditation, and then they have to have…then they try to do meditation in action. So it’s the same thing. When you haven’t developed the strength, how can you do the activity? It’s very difficult. Somewhere you have to accumulate that strength. Engaging is like having love, or having mental fortitude or strength, having exertion or whatever it may be; you need to develop that somewhere. So again here I think it’s meditation is developing, and then we bring it into action. So meditation in action is something that I think we can all…we’re already doing in some ways. We can further it. It’s something that’s totally natural. And it’s something that stems from the power of our own development and training. And again, what I always recommend is, don’t overdo it. Practice 10, 20, 30 minutes of it, and then try it. And then also don’t be a complete fanatic in terms of, you know, people often think meditation in action means you have to do everything in slow motion. You know, like you’re miming, you know? And people think “I’m slow in meditation so I need to be slow”. Well, sometimes life is quick, so you need to be quick. And sometimes it’s slow, and you need to be slow. And that means you have a nimble mind; you can do both. You have a nimble attitude. So how can you mix? But it’s that theme of taking something and putting it into your life.


8 Responses

  1. pazcecipaz

    February 12, 2009 1:04 am

    …so true …..
    The meditator becomes the meditation
    My life is certainly becoming this more and more , inner stillness fills my days more and more , and I'm open to whatever comes …….just being……

  2. Andy Moss

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm

    This is a very helpful and clearly put explanation of meditation as it interrelates on and off the mat. No jargon just words simply put. Patience and non judgementalism are two of the most valuable qualities that one can bring to the process. Let the fire burn naturally. Maintain your stance as the observer. Contain where necessary with focus but try not to suppress. Many thanks to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for thinking of us. With very best wishes Andy X

  3. lalibelanoway

    February 13, 2009 6:51 am

    You have a wonderful gift to touch somebody's soul, just by looking into the eyes. Very powerful and healing feeling. Hope that one day our ways will cross. Thank You and Namaste.

  4. Karen Swanson

    August 6, 2015 2:02 am

    Dear Sakyong – I am so grateful for your teachings, and the Shambhala lineage.  I am finding more and more ease in sharing it with friends and yoga students, and feeling such delight in people's interest and my ability to share.  Thank you, Karen


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