Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on October 20, 2014

"Gleaming the Cube" just means thinking or getting outside the box, breaking away from the norm.

I am always amazed at the bobsled runs in the Olympics, where one person or a team pushes the bobsled really hard and then jump(s) on, tucks themselves inside, and rides. This to me is an analogy of how we learn meditation, by first making a concerted effort to learn the basic technique, but once learned, we jump on our life and ride. Of course we can ride on the cushion too, but most of us have too many other things to do in a day.

Of course, the learning of the basic meditation technique is not always that easy; it tends to be a bit of a desert that we have to cross, one with very few oases or water holes -- feedback. This fact may be the chief deterrent that prevents more people from having successful meditation practices; they have no idea where they are at in the whole process.

If they had some results, if some realization arises, they would very definitely know it, but with learning any technique we can't expect to get much response until we master it to some degree, and we don't. We have to put out a lot before we get much back, and this is a problem for many folks, at least with learning meditation.

In particular, we have no idea how we are doing because we have nothing to compare our practice to. As I like to say, if we are learning to play music, we can always put on a CD and compare what we are doing with what is on the album. We can decide for ourselves how much music we are playing.

But with meditation, where we are working to achieve greater awareness, there is no CD or DVD that we can put on and see how our meditation practice compares to where we are trying to reach. We have no idea, or worse, we have an idea of what having more awareness must be like that we have cobbled together from books, teachers, and friends, and we use that as our guide. That not only doesn't work, but it actually retards our progress. If we knew what the results of meditation in terms of greater awareness or realization were like, we would know, and the fact is that we don't. This is a big problem for many of us, and why I called it the desert we each have to cross to reach meditation results that we can realize. Many never make it across and turn back.

One of the ways to "make it" is to develop at least some (at least a little) solid meditation technique and immediately apply it to how we live the rest of our day, our time off-the-cushion. In that way we can at least accumulate enough actual practice time to eventually develop some increased awareness. And with that increased awareness we can better see how to practice more skillfully yet, which then generates even more awareness, and ad infinitum. This is what is called gathering the two accumulations.

It is like investing what little we have in a bank to earn interest, and then reinvesting that initial amount (plus the interest) to earn even more interest, etc. The Buddhists call this concept the "Two Accumulations," and the two accumulations are skillful-means and awareness. I have written about the two accumulations many times. Here I am more interested in encouraging you to apply what you learn about meditation, however slight, to your day-to-day life.

This piece is intended as an encouragement to those of you trying to learn the techniques of meditation to persevere until you can get to the point that you have something you can apply and use all day long, because it takes that kind of extensive practice to really become aware. And I am not saying to hurry or push anything, only to put what gains you do get to work for you to gain additional interest in the dharma. Enthusiasm is "key," and once that engine is started, it goes exponential, but until it does, it can be a slow go.

If you can manage to spend most of your day on the cushion or in a cave, and are happy doing that, it would be best. But for those of us who have trouble finding time, even an hour a day (ten minutes?), in our busy schedule, my advice (and I mean it gently) is that we need to spend a lot more time than an hour on dharma practice each day, and I will let you do the math.

My advice is to learn some meditation technique, and the cushion is the best place to do that because there are fewer distractions there. As mentioned, most of us don't have enough time in our day to spend a lot of it on the cushion, or we get bored, or whatever. However, we are wide open the rest of that day, busy doing this and doing that. If we can find a portable dharma practice to insert into our daily schedule, one that does not take up valuable time, we are good to go. Also, find someone who knows how to meditate to bounce your experiences off of. It helps.

And one of the easiest-to-learn and do practices is what I call "Reaction Tong-Len" or reaction toning, working with our natural and spontaneous reactions as they occur throughout the day. And the freshness of the moment, when a reaction occurs, provides us with the needed energy to do this practice almost effortlessly – self fueling.

I suggest that you give reaction toning a try. Here is a short audio podcast that give you the details on Reaction Tong-Len:


If you would rather read about it, try the book "Tong-Len: The Alchemy of Reaction" located here:


And do feel free to ask questions please.