In contemplative traditions like Tibetan Buddhism, “practice” refers to the way we return to a particular set of mindfulness exercises on a daily basis to help train our minds to remain more resilient throughout life’s ups and downs.
To paraphrase Shantideva, an eighth-century Indian Buddhist monk:
The ground can be rough, hard, and painful to walk on. We could cover the entire world with soft leather to ease the pain or we could wear shoes.
Meaning, we can try the impossible task of “fixing” the world and the people around us, or we can change our own habits of mind in order to live with more ease and joy.
Meditation practice seeks to do just that: to help us build new ways of being and behaving, ultimately increasing happiness and meaning in our lives.
While most contemporary mindfulness techniques originated from Buddhism, today people from all sorts of religious backgrounds—and no religious background—practice meditation. Why? Because they see the benefits in the form of decreased stress, enhanced creativity, better focus, and improved relationships with other people and with their inner selves.