Usually, when we talk about "meditation," it implies us sitting still in a formal practice. But it doesn't have to be. We can do walking meditation as well.
So can we practice mindfulness without having a formal sitting practice? I think we can. We can eat mindfully. We can talk mindfully. We can drive mindfully. We can infuse mindfulness into everything we do.
However, having a regular meditation practice enhances our mindful skills for day-to-day activities.
We can probably use our physical fitness and training as an analogy. Let's say we go to the gym and work out an hour a day. Over time, this habit will strengthen and condition our heart, lungs, and certain muscles, bones and joints. Let's say on the weekends, we want to take a 2-hour hike with our family or friends. When we are hiking, we automatically activate those trained muscles of our core, back and legs to do the job of hiking. In this sense, we are not sore the next day. And we are not prone to injuries that can happen to people who are not in shape.
The same analogy can apply to meditation and being mindful. If we sit only 10 min a day during meditation practice, this period of time sharpens our awareness skills.
Let's say now we are interacting with a melodramatic colleague at work. He or she is having a bad day, and the person wants you to be part of the drama. In this situation, our brain is trained to respond wisely and calmly using our mindful skills. We sit back. We pause. We breathe and relax. Then we assess the situation with spaciousness and non-reactivity, before we respond to the colleague.
Though we don't need to meditate in order to engage in life mindfully, a regular practice can enhance our ability to wisely respond to situations that may be otherwise triggering.
At the end of the day, we are still human beings with life obligations. There is no substitute to engage in life with our Presence.
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