Aliveness. Meditation is just an empty charade unless I'm alive inside while I'm doing it. Meditation has be lively and playful, it has to feel a little like being in love or it's worthless, according to my love Leela. Meditation practices and techniques are useless in themselves. What counts isn't what practice I use but how I live in the meditation, how present and lively I am in it. If I'm alive in what I'm doing, anything can be my meditation. I don't waste my time sitting cross-legged staring at a candle. I was never any good at formal meditation anyway. Now I know why. It has its uses. I was making little or no progress doing it but I needed to do it anyway to build discipline and consciously devote some part of my life to the spiritual quest. Now I use things I love to do for my meditation. Like partner dancing or cooking. I lost my innate ability to meditate after I took up recreational drugs in Kenya. They kiboshed the highly effective but unorthodox spontaneous meditations I made progress by all my life until then. Orthodoxy sucks.
The left hand path. Pot kicked my mind into overdrive, filling my head with words. The words in my head kept me from being present. The words kept me from hearing the ring of truth, the secret sound in all my spontaneous meditations. To be present I have to be quiet inside. Inner silence can't be earned or achieved. I can't find my way to inner silence by sitting and looking at a candle or a bare wall or any of that. I have to surrender to Leela and let her take me there. My escape from booze then pot shows what worked for me. The left hand path (Vamachara) was the only path worth taking. YMMV.
But it has to be by my own left hand, not crap instructions from some so-called teacher.
Cooking. Being present changes my relationship with time. If I can slow down enough inside to turn whatever I'm doing into meditation, I can manifest a touch of 5-space in my doing. I can do a thing wisely by working hard on being present. My laboratory for working on this has been cooking. The first step is to take all the time constraints out of cooking a meal by seeing the whole process, start to finish, as if it were outside time. If I become silent I can see through time a little the way we ordinarily see through space. The meal becomes an artwork I'm entering and I see how all the pieces of the process connect and relate to each other. If I stay with that vision of cooking the meal as a unitary work of art, I'm never caught off balance by what comes next. I worked on this by slowing everything down to a snail's pace, stopping to breathe and shut my eyes for a moment in between each step. It has utterly transformed how I cook a meal.
Multitasking is the fine art of fucking up several things at once. Meditation is becoming present. Presence requires inner silence. Presence and inner silence are the same thing. If I'm present, my full attention is focused on here and now: where I am now, what I'm doing now. I have no attention left over for anything else. The opposite of being present is being absent, being in my head, being distracted. Being absent is touted as a virtue in the guise of multitasking. But if I'm present I can only do one thing at a time, and that one thing requires my full attention if I'm to do it well.
Twelve steps. Inner silence is a gift Leela gave me. She used extreme concentrations of cannabis to shock me into a state of inner silence. That glorious moment of awakening was immediately followed by a months-long panic attack brought on by the extreme discord between being in a new state while polluted with cannabis residue. The panic attack was also guidance from Leela. Panic forced me to seek help from 12-step programs. At AA and MA I learned about the spiritual part of recovery and was able to complete my transition from being a dry drunk to being cured of addiction forever.