It’s clear that the objective of meditation is to cultivate a stable state of mindfulness that can be carried out into daily life. But I don’t know of any traditions of meditation instruction that just leave you with, “Okay, kid! Now get out there and be mindful!” There are always at least some practical tips about how to find moments of practice in daily situations. Many traditions go further and teach additional, more lifelike activities as meditation, to introduce aspirants to the contrast in a controlled environment.

The best known example is probably walking meditation, which doubles as a nice relief for the knees during long days of sitting. Walking meditation is not taught in a way that at all resembles normal walking. You go through painstakingly slow, detailed movements of lifting the foot, placing it down, straightening the leg, feeling each part of the stride. It sensitizes you to the vibrant panoply of sensations available during walking, which makes it much easier to transfer that awareness into day-to-day walking. Sitting still and thinking about it doesn’t translate quite as easily.

There’s a rich Zen tradition of assigning practitioners to all kinds of cooking and cleaning duties as part of their retreat or monastic residence, so that mindful toilet-scrubbing is no different from mindful sitting. Judaism has a comprehensive system of blessings said outside of structured prayer times for elevating many mundane activities: eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, washing your hands. For me, writing this blog is certainly another mindfulness practice bridging my meditation and my daily work.

It might not be enough to just use mild mental affirmations while going about your day. It builds mindfulness muscle memory to complement seated meditation with other, more active practices.