The following is an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Being Peace”, which I found to be a timely reminder for me.
When we walk in the meditation hall, we make careful steps, very slowly. But when we go to the airport, we are quite another person. We walk very differently, less mindfully. How can we practise at the airport and in the market? That is engaged Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism does not only mean to use Buddhism to solve social and political problems, protesting against the bombs, and protesting against social injustice. First of all, we have to bring Buddhism into our daily lives. I have a friend who breathes between telephone calls, and it helps her very much. Another friend does walking meditation between business appointments, walking mindfully between buildings in downtown Denver. Passers-by smile at him, and his meetings, even with difficult persons, often turn out to be very pleasant, and very successful.
We should be able to bring the practice from the meditation hall into our daily lives. How can we practise to penetrate our feelings, our perceptions during daily life? We don’t deal with our perceptions and our feelings only during sitting practice. We have to deal with them all the time. We need to discuss among ourselves how to do it. Do you practise breathing between phone calls? Do you practise smiling while cutting carrots? Do you practise relaxation after hours of hard work? These questions are very practical. If you know how to apply Buddhism to dinner time, leisure time, sleeping time, I think Buddhism will become engaged in your daily life. Then it will have a tremendous effect on social concerns. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha become the matters of everyday life, each minute, each hour of our daily life, and not just a description of something far away.
(From the chapter “The Heart of Practice”)