Meditation and Lifestyle

What is the inter-relation between meditation and your lifestyle? How does one effect the other? This may include your job, your diet, your family, and how you chose to spend your time. You may be surprised to hear this story recounted by Shinzen Young on his website, “I once heard a group of Americans invite a Japanese Zen monk out for dinner. 'What do you like?' they asked. 'I not like mac-ro-biotic. I like mac-do-nald,' was his reply.”


Often when we begin meditation routines, our lives begin to take on deeper meanings and follow more enlightened paths. In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle talks about interweaving one's outer purpose with one's inner purpose. He says that our outer purposes (such as being an accountant or a student) don't really matter as long as we do them in a way that expresses our inner purpose. However, once we begin to live deeper, more meaningful, spiritual lives, often our old outer purposes have lost meaning. It is not uncommon to find that after a spiritual awakening a new career is in order. It's nice, of course, when our outsides can match our insides and vice versa. If daily meditation is prompting you to make changes to your job, go for it.

When it comes to diet and nutrition, you'll find meditators of every persuasion—as the quote says, from macrobiotic to MacDonalds. Many strict Buddhists do eat vegetarian, vegan, or other special diets, and if you are so motivated such a diet would certainly not harm you or your meditation practice. Again, the longer we meditate, the deeper meaning our lives have, and the more important it becomes to treat the body as a temple. In meditation, we reach our hands out and feel the precious gift of life. Upon feeling that, it's hard not to treat it with the utmost respect. Just like many lose the desire to sit in a cubicle shuffling papers all day, some also lose interest in junk food and other unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking. As these things stand in direct opposition to the entire point of meditating, they are good things to evolve past.

Have you also noticed that meditating has affected your family life? Some may find that they are a better parent—more patient, more loving, more accepting, more tolerant, more fun-loving. Meditation might also give you the inner-strength, peace, and courage to repair old family hostilities and grudges. It is hard to justify harshness towards one's children or holding on to family dramas when one is simultaneously devoting time to mindfulness and attaining greater serenity.

Furthermore, the more involved you get with your meditation practice, the more you may find other aspects of your life also changing. For example, you may be less interested in watching TV and playing video games. Perhaps you'll find yourself reading more or spending more time working in the garden or on other outdoor hobbies.

There is no right or wrong way to live as a meditator, but as long as you are being true to yourself, then your practice has meaning.

~ Jillian Avey,