Is formal meditation or mindfulness through the day more effective?
You normally see the world, including yourself, as interpreted by your thoughts, which seem strongly conditioned by your history. As a result you do not see reality as it is but rather whatever picture your mind (or brain) is currently painting. This varies moment by moment. I refer to this as the conditioned mind. In the conditioned mind your judgment is unreliable, your actions less relevant to what is going on, and you tend to suffer from various forms of stress as reality seems to behave at variance with your (conditioned) expectations. Life can be very difficult this way.
Mindfulness, or meditation, encourages you to access the unconditioned mind, the mind that sees reality directly without the influence of your historical conditioning. You normally need a teacher to introduce you to the unconditioned mind as it is both subtle and also initially unfamiliar.
The more you access the unconditioned mind, the better is your access to reality – the world and yourself as they really are, rather than as your conditioned mind mistakenly thinks they are. This way there are fewer, ultimately no gaps, between your expectation and what happens. Life is easier, more stress-free.
Both formal and informal meditation can contribute to this. I would recommend you to:
- Find a teacher
- Meditate for (initially) 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, in which case meditate an hour a day.
- Use every available moment to increase and stabilize your mindfulness/meditation until it becomes natural to you. Examples include at a red traffic light, on the toilet, waiting for a friend. You can add your own opportunities, as there are many.
- Spend time with like-minded friends who can support you on the way to unconditional happiness and peace of mind.