Finding the Right Practice

Ten minute talk, and then a 25-minute guided meditation. I recorded this on Feb 23, 2018, at a class in Costa Rica. It reflects my latest thinking about what practice is, what it means, and how we find the right practice for us.

Main points:
  • Aristotle: “You are what you repeatedly do.” There is no neutral setting in life – most existing is a doing, a doing that is changing you and deepening both healthy and unhealthy habits
  • Meditation practice – and all “spiritual,” artistic, and body-based practices – train how you want to exist. They are acts of deliberately choosing what habits you want to train and reinforce. Thus they are very empowering.
  • What matters in a practice are the qualities of mind and heart and body that we are training. The qualities we explore in this meditation are: concentration, clarity, equanimity and friendliness / intimacy
  • We can make this work for us based on our natural interests. Everyone is different. YOU DO NOT NEED A SITTING PRACTICE. If you don’t like sitting, choose a movement practice. You can practice the above qualities in slow deliberate movement, and that’s what we do at the end of this guided practice. This is how we bring meditation into life anyway – we make life our practice. This is good news for people with ants in their pants.
  • We can also let our interests guide what we want to pay attention to. That’s the other bit of good news. The breath is one option among many. There are other options that may be more appealing to us. Interest in a particular option / object is our anchor. We use our interest to slingshot ourselves into the practice, into the training. As we get more experience, we learn to let go of our anchor, let go of the form. This is what it means to bring our practice into life.
  • Oh, and one more crazy paradoxical thing: it may be that not ALL existing is a doing. Contemplative traditions argue in their own ways that there is a kind of setting or direction in experience, where no new habits are formed. In a complete experience of equanimity, the forces of conditioning seem dramatically weakened. At least, this is the experience – the experience of pure being. Whether this is actually what is happening is another matter! But it might be …