Derivative 14: We Need to Practice Being Here and Now (The Meditation Derivative)
From the Now Derivative (D12) we have that being here and now is path toward relieving suffering. But several times in this discussion we have come across the problem that it is not easy to be here and now. Our desires are a part of who we are, even if who we are is a delusion. Those desires are what keep us from the here and now. What do we do when something is hard? We practice it.
I play Chess. Most people think of Chess as a hard game to play. That’s because it is. So people practice it. Of course, you can practice Chess by playing it. The hard part of Chess is not starting a game, it is playing that game well. With being here and now, getting started is as hard doing it well. Another common way to practice Chess is to do tactics problems: isolated positions from a game where you have to find the correct move (or two or three …). Generally these problems are taken from the middle of the game, but some people concentrate on endgame problems or opening study.
The key here is that they are isolating parts of the game and practicing them. You see this in sports. When I played basketball we didn’t practice basketball just by playing games. We isolated parts of the game and practiced them: passing drills, shooting drills, inbound drills, sprints.
How do we apply that to life? We need to isolate out parts of life, and practice being here and now. The simplest thing in life is just sitting there. Well, yes, the simplest thing in life is actually just lying there, but just sitting there is pretty close and actually works better. So our here and now drill, our life drill, is just sitting there and trying to be here and now. This is what I call meditation. Of course, there’s a lot of other things called meditation. I’m not trying to say those other things aren’t meditation, they’re just different kinds of meditation.
And there are different ways to practice being here and now than just seated meditation. Just doing it while we are sitting there staring at a wall isn’t going to help with the rest of our lives, which is generally where we are suffering. We need to take that practice off the cushion and into our lives. Again, this is easier said than done. The way to do it is to just ease into it, by adding it to other simple parts of life. Times I find good for meditating include washing dishes, walking, waiting in line, waiting for public transportation, riding public transportation, eating, and driving. The more you do it, the more you bring it into the simple parts of your life, the easier it becomes to find the here and now during the complicated parts of your life.
I could get into all sorts of details about how to meditate, but I’ve already done that. At some point I may formalize all that in this statement format, but right now I think it’s more important to move on to other aspects of morality.