The First Rule

The first rule of meditation practice is... do not talk about meditation practice.

The second rule of meditation practice is... DO NOT TALK ABOUT MEDITATION PRACTICE.

Ok, so that's not really what Brad Pitt says in the film Fight Club, but it's close. The idea still applies. In "Wherever You Go, There You Are", author Jon Kabat-Zinn advises beginning meditators to not bother talking to others about their new meditation practice.

I think this is a good idea, although I usually fail epically at it. I'll find myself chit-chatting with someone, talking about all kinds of things, and it just comes out. "Yeah, I try to do 30 minutes a day... blah blah blah."

But I noticed something -- it's really only when my practice is sporadic that I find myself talking about my practice. When I actually get into a routine and follow through for a few days at a time, I find it much easier to demur when it comes to telling others how great meditation is. Actually, it's not just this subject. When I've meditated in the morning, all throughout the day I feel the need to talk less.

It's not that I become more anti-social, but when I'm speaking with someone, I feel more like an observer of myself. I notice, "Hmmm, at this point I would normally say XYZ..." but instead of doing or saying that thing, I feel more relaxed, and I just pay more attention to the other person. Do they seem authentic? How are they feeling? Am I really following what they're saying?

This makes me feel much more present, in the moment, with that person, and that feels pretty good.


Kusa said...

Thank you for the post. I found your insight into the relationship between actual practice and time spent talking about it spot on. My thoughts about practice tend to arise more when my practice is sporadic - less so when I am actually following my routine.

Whether we should avoid talking about practice is complicated, however. The question is related to, but importantly different from whether we should talk about "being buddhist". I think it is important not to establish a this and that kind of relationship between the rest of our life and what we do when we practice buddhism. there is just practice, just talking with friends, just us, whoever we are. this is something I struggle with as I tend to hide my buddhist practice - thinking it will get in the way. In the end, for myself, this hiding is more the obstacle to be worked with than than the practice.

I will have to look at the quote you brought up. Thanks again for the post.

Raymo.E-J said...

I remember that part of my practice, it was very pleasant. It's sort of stuck with me over the years. But then again I could be classified as antisocial... (not much face to face contact, not vocal contact). Nevertheless, when the mind stops chattering, and resides all in the present moment, conversations can be very very pleasant.