“When you start to drift into a situation where you might make bad choices, you stop and meditate? I understand the value of daily, routine prayer or meditation, but I guess I don’t see the connection to things that occur randomly throughout the day.
A very benign example is that commuting to and from work, my mind is free and I think of all sorts of things that need to happen. But between the garage door opening and walking in the door, or parking in the lot and getting to my desk, I involuntarily purge my brain of everything I was just thinking of, and go off in a frequently completely different direction from what i know needs to be accomplished.
Could you explain how meditation links into that?”
This e-mail has been sitting in my inbox for a week. I generally respond to e-mails much more quickly than that. But this one, I haven’t responded to. I could think about why. It’s been a busy week, sure. I’ve not done much writing this week, sure. But why? Why have I sat on this question?
First, I suppose, is the first line of the e-mail, a statement, but rendered a question by virtue of punctuation. Yes, I suppose, that’s my goal. When I “drift into a situation where [I] might make bad choices,” I hope to stop and meditate. And I often do. Not always, of course. I’m human. I’m not immune to bad choices. But yes, that’s my goal.
When I’m in one of those situations, one in which I might “make bad choices,” inevitably (in my case) what’s happening is that there’s some feeling, some affect, I’m experiencing that I want to escape. “Bad choices” is code for “doing something that lets me not feel what I’m feeling.” Meditation, on the other hand, is “paying attention to what I’m feeling.”
The person who wrote this e-mail gives a great description of dissociation – the act of separating one’s actions in the moment from one’s notion of selfhood. This is at the heart of many of my “bad choices.” Meditation is incompatible with dissociation. It’s the opposite of dissociation. It’s rooting one’s actions deep in the experience of one’s selfhood.
I don’t know if this is comprehensible. (I’m two scotches in as I write this.) But here’s the crux of the issue for me: bad choices = not feeling; meditation = feeling.