So this is a short talk and guided meditation, recorded at the beautiful Harmony Hotel meditation zendo in Nosara, Costa Rica. The meditation begins at 12:40 if you want to jump to that.
The talk and meditation are a distillation of some of my core ideas about what meditation practice is, and how we can find the right practice for each of us: the right attitude, the right object, and even the right balance of stillness and movement / activity. It talks about the core skills of every successful practice and how to make sure they are activated in the meditation itself.
Below is a summary of the main points:
“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 arguably 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. In this sense they are very empowering.
What matters in a practice are the qualities of mind and heart and body that we train. 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 eventually learn to let go of our anchor, let go of the form. This is what it means to bring our practice into life – all of life becomes a meditation.
Oh, and one last 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 – an experience of pure being.
See for yourself!