When most of us start working with meditation, we focus almost solely on the specifics of how to sit, how to position our bodies, what to do with our eyes and breath and so on.  That is a good thing.  We need to get those under control when learning this new skill.

But there are also things we can do when we are NOT meditating which will help our practice.  One of the simplest such practices is to periodically break out of our ‘thought rut’ by intentionally directing our senses to different elements of our surroundings than is our personal norm. 

Try this several times through the day: take a few moments to really notice whatever you are looking at, then move your eyes to notice something you would normally miss in your surroundings.  Don’t worry about analyzing whatever that might be; just see something you wouldn’t normally notice.  If you are normally looking at objects near you, shift your focus to notice something far away.  If you are normally looking down, look up at the sky or the ceiling. 

Do the same thing with what you are hearing and feeling, as well.  Just spend a few seconds noticing some of the pieces of your world which are typically swallowed up as part of the background for all the stuff demanding your attention. 

Moving your attention around like this is a great warm up for meditation.  You’ll find that when you break out of the habits your senses have established (you’ll start to find patterns in what you regularly notice to the exclusion of the rest of your world), you simultaneously break some of the hold your thought habits hold over your experience. 

That is a huge help for the spiritual seeker.  Every time you weaken those habits (of thought and sensation) you strengthen the muscles you will be using for meditation. 

This isn’t a meditation exercise, per se, but try it out and see what impact stretching your senses has on your internal practice.  And let me know what you think!