Those of us who have practiced a bit come to understand that practice must be integrated into life. It’s not about who can sit still the longest and stillest. Yet integration into life does not come about by willing it to happen, but rather by persistent and continued practice.
Since the age of 5, I have been a baseball/softball player, heavily conditioned by my father who also had a “thing” about baseball. I am now 70 years old and have still managed to continue playing league and tournament softball.
After so many years of practice, I cannot help but bring the dharma to the game. First, there is relaxation. I call it getting out of the way, sensing into the body and opening to whatever sensations are there without resistance. Fear, heat, pressure, body pain, and fatigue are all part of the game. Next, there is concentration. Keep your eye on the ball while being grounded in the body. This is an essential mindfulness skill and helps in batting and fielding.
Working with the SENSE OF SELF is the biggest challenge just as in the rest of our lives. The team, spectators, and opponents are all watching and judging and it is very easy to assume a sense of complete control over my performance and identify with my successes and failures. The practice has loosened this clinging which surprisingly results in more fulfillment and less suffering.
And finally, there is love, kindness, and virtue. It has become apparent to me that all I can guarantee is my intention and effort. Outcomes like Kamma/Vipaka (action and results) are dependent on too many variables to fathom. What ultimately counts is what I bring to the sport.
The endeavor feels successful when I bring kindness and love to the entire game, the team, opponents, and myself. I so value playing with people of all races, religions, beliefs, and views. I also feel great gratitude for the ability to be out playing, to feel the sun on my body, the rhythms of the game, and its movements.
I hope these reflections will be of help to you in your life’s activities.