What is the best way to integrate Buddhist practice into everyday life?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Here it’s about doing a mix of formal and intuitive practice whenever possible. I would try to spontaneously intersperse short periods of meditation throughout the day whenever the situation permits. It is also good to have fixed meditation sessions during the day as the basis. For example, after the last embrace in the morning, I would sit down with my partner and take refuge together for five minutes or concentrate on the three lights from the Karmapa meditation.

One can also use any break during the day to let Karmapa arise in space and concentrate on the lights. One can try as much as possible to see everything as pure and beautiful. On your way to work on the bus or train, you can imagine the Buddha or Karmapa sitting on a board above the heads of everyone. Then in your mind, you pull the boards away and let the Buddha or Karmapa fall down into their hearts and start to shine.

I would always concentrate on space and bliss as inseparable. Try to see space as that which contains all things and not as what separates them. That means not just directing your consciousness forward—habitually following your nose and eyes—but being aware of the space all around yourself as well.

It’s about experiencing consciousness as something similar to space, as something that expands in every direction. This point is really important, so I often emphasize it. If one experiences that meter of distance between oneself and others not as separation but instead as space—a container that encompasses us all—one will experience more and more joy. By developing this view, by always focusing on what unites and brings us together, experiences and abilities that go beyond what we’re used to will arise quite naturally. Suddenly, we know who is calling before the phone rings, or we think of a friend and a short time later we get a letter from him. This happens because mind in its joyful, relaxed state expresses all its wisdom and abilities.

When we arrive at work, we can now see something exciting and meaningful in every situation. To the ladies I would point out their beauty and wisdom and to the gentlemen their power and joy. This way their attention will be directed towards their strengths, and they will be in closer contact with their potential. At work we then think, “I don’t just have a duty here; I have a mission. Through what I do today, I can touch many beings and maybe give them something useful that brings them joy.”

In moments when there is nothing to do and nobody is demanding your attention, you can completely relax for a short while, absorb the three lights, and give away the good impressions to all beings afterwards. If you have a more physical job in which you don’t need to think so much, you can keep repeating a mantra the whole time.

We really can look at everything on the highest level. For example, even machines we can see as an expression of the intelligence of inventors who created something that functions so well. During the morning break or lunch, again we can interact with people in the most meaningful ways, seeing the freshest and most beautiful aspects of all that happens. While eating, we can also give everything as a gift to Karmapa in our minds.

Maybe at work you have a boss who is an impossible guy, but you just think, “How wonderful. Without difficult people there’s no patience, and without patience there’s no enlightenment. Many thanks!” So no matter what’s going on, one makes the best possible use of one’s time, always seeing the best in people and learning from whatever happens. On the way home, we can then let Karmapa fall into the hearts of everyone on the bus again.

Those who couldn’t do any prostrations in the morning should definitely do them after work. The reason is that repeatedly “throwing down” your body will align your own energies. Your energy level will rise so much that you can subtract an hour of sleep time for every hour of prostrations you do. They also give tremendous strength and we become more able to do something for others.

When there is nothing thrilling on TV, you can also meditate on Diamond Mind to purify all negative impressions accumulated over countless lifetimes. Or you can do your current personal practice. And finally in the evening, you can take your loved one to bed and practice the union of bliss and emptiness, the meeting of wisdom and compassion.

When the time to sleep comes, sitting in bed, we can do a final meditation on the emptiness–clarity of mind, the Clear Light Meditation. Afterwards we lie down and remain in a state of limitless light all night. The next morning, the light shines back into us, we emerge out of space as the buddha aspect of our choice, and we take refuge and go out again into the world. This way, one makes full use of the twenty-four hours in the day.