Gwenn Dana wrote:To me there is not really any other practice than life practice.
If I cannot do it in daily situations, I cannot do it.
I really appreciate this approach, which is why Zen writings have always drawn me. Can you explain "life practice", what it means to you?
It means to me: No matter what situation in daily life I face, when I notice an emotion coming up, along with a story that wants to keep it and bribe me into acting upon it, I hold in instead of acting upon that story. When there should be fear, bad conscience, aversion, want or anything related coming up, then that fear is duly noted, but not nourished by reacting upon it. Or only reacted upon, when there is actual harm for the body involved that can be avoided by that reaction. Making a practice out of just this act.
If I'm sitting in a meeting, and one of those waves starts where people react on each other via trigger words, I don't join in that reaction game. If I notice that urge arising, I let it subside. I still think about what I want to say, but sum it up to a short, concise statement I will place when the situation is right, and hopefully in a way that will not trigger another couple of those waves, by not sending "you"-messages. I also no longer accept tasks that I doubt will be fulfilled or create long term liabilities where arguments will start over.
Although I can only become "soft" so aversion cannot cling, I cannot completely avoid that such waves arise when others respond as a self-driven system. But when few people do that in a meeting of many, there will be a ton less of those chatter- and blame-waves. It means that I don't look for guilt or blame, but am interested in solutions.
It means to me when I'm playing pool, it is not primarily about the technique or result, but primarily about maintaining equanimity throughout the practice or competition. When there is excitement at the beginning of the tournament, honor it as a gift to the body who is now more alert instead of turning it into anxiety and proceed with the way I usually approach shots. It means facing whatever happens with an equanimous mind, not hoping for my opponent to miss, watching his game without building up inner tension, even when I'm on the brink of losing and watching the last couple of shots. It means getting up and congratulating to the game even when I lost an important match.
That also means holding in and sitting still for a couple of minutes, or "holding the one point" (which is basically a navel chakra technique), or a breathing technique, or meditating on inner fire when there is tension in the central nervous system, taking the time to re-center whenever I notice that I shifted off center, so subsequent actions are not born from defilements. I do this because I know when I act on defilements, that will backfire and create even more of them. Karmic stuff.
It means living up to a certain amount of precepts which you can also hold when you're not ordained. Not waste food. Not lie. Not badmouth people. Not steal. Not claim the work of others. Because it will backfire. Contributing or hinting attention where I have something to offer. Not being superstitious about the contribution of others, but pervading those that are apparently born from emotional want or aversion. Acknowledging options instead of seeking reasons of denial. Cherishing diversity. Not deliberately making evaluating differences based on verbal judgement. Trying to find consensus instead of making foul compromises (sometimes that makes it smaller). Acknowledging that people will have to make their own experiences and you can only hint their attention. But speak about these matters and find people who are also on the path.
It also means not blaming myself for stuff that I wasn't able to achieve or do but staying open for new options that arise. There are so many things outside of our control.
And always see what comes.