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Most meditation techniques focus explicitly on the “what” and the “where”: Pay attention to X (where X equals sensation, change, vanishings, etc.) Figure out what it is, figure out where it is, do it faster, do it with greater clarity.
That’s fine. And, of course, there’s a “how” component, the meditation instructions themselves.
But, the instructions kind of break down when the words or the teacher inevitably say, “Ok, now take your practice into daily life.”
Um, take what into daily life? I’m a big fan of *living* my life, not dividing my attention in two, trying to apply some kind of technique while I’m paying my taxes or something.
I don’t like these instructions: “Just focus on only what you’re doing.” Or, “be mindful of whatever it is you’re doing.” What if I’m doing something complex and ambiguous? And “mindfulness” is too vague and ambiguous of a concept. It’s also not what you’re supposed to be doing during meditation, anyway:
(Of course, some well-placed remembering to relax or breath, or something much more targeted, is smart and healthy. It’s good to be able to step into and out of automaticity appropriately.)
Anyway, what about stuff to do during daily life that doesn’t mess up actually *living your life* and is highly generalizable to any situation you find yourself in? The answer is another “how” aspect, the “adverbial” aspect.
I think Cheri Huber gets this right (paraphrasing):
“Focus on the ‘how’ not just the ‘what’; Focus on ‘process’ not just ‘content’.”
(She writes fluffy stuff, but I think it fits the median audience, and there’s advanced stuff in there, too.)
Anyway, when the content is never quite right, what’s your ongoing, intimate, moment-to-moment stance/approach/relationship to that content?
Zen sometimes emphasizes this: Instead of emphasizing the content of sitting, they emphasize the act of sitting. You can’t complete the act of sitting; it’s ongoing, and you have to be with that process.
You can’t really complete life, either. Objects, goals, content keep coming up. And that’s fine. Work with those objects, use them, think about them, manipulate them when you can. But you can’t complete life. There’s no winning move. So can you viscerally, tangibly, deliberately, feel into the act of living, spend some time taking the reins of the usual automaticity, moment to moment, and feel into the process, the *how* of how you’re living. Or, feel into the *how* of how you’re approaching a particular act of living (taxes, job, etc.)? And guide that “how”? Adjust its trajectory a little bit, for the better? The *quality* of the process? Adverbs: Cleanly, gently, impeccably, lovingly, more relaxed, more ethically, more willingly, more open, more aligned… whatever palette, whatever wordless qualities you want to draw upon, or feel into, or call out to you, or you’re drawn towards…
That’s a relatively non-disruptive practice that you can take into daily life, that you can actually live. It has a transformational aspect, over time, just like meditation.