The past week I’ve been playing Rocksmith. It’s a music “game” that aims to teach you how to play the guitar. Unlike the other music games that have come out over the past few years, this one doesn’t just give you a plastic instrument that you push buttons to make what they call music. This game uses a real, honest to goodness electric guitar. It plugs right into my XBox and knows exactly what strings and what frets my fingers are on. It’s been the most fun I’ve ever had learning how to play a new instrument. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play but been afraid to make the commitment, this is a great way to get started.
Like any good guitar player, I’ve also been putting the fingers on my left hand through quite a workout. While I don’t really have blisters on them, I am getting some nice callouses. It’s been a great experience to spend a little time each day playing music and watching myself get better over time. When I started, I had a hard time playing for very long and I couldn’t keep up with the songs. Now, I don’t really have any stamina problems and the number of songs I can play is growing more and more.
The practice mind that one develops when learning a new instrument is similar to the practice mind that one gets from a dedicated Buddhist practice. In both cases, one must develop a solid set of routines that serve to enhance the practice. With music practice, a person learns to play more challenging songs and develops stamina and the ability to think in new ways about songs. In a committed Buddhist practice, the challenges faces are the ones that we all face on a daily basis. The problems of suffering and pain and sorrow are slowly overcome while endurance is built up in a solid meditative practice. This past weekend, for example, I started my day off with a solid hour of meditation. This is something I never would have been able to do when I began to practice.
Another interesting parallel that I have noted is that in playing the guitar, I’m trying to build up a strong layer of callous that makes pushing down on the strings easier to do. In my Buddhist practice, I am trying to wear down the mental callouses that have built up over years of exposure to illusion and suffering and attachment. It feels like two sides of the same coin. Building something up or tearing something down with the end result being a stronger practice and greater ability to perform.
With all of that in mind, I’m trying to approach living a healthy lifestyle the same way. It is something I need to work on each day. It is hard to make a lot of headway at first. It seems like something that is almost impossible to do. It will require building up of new habits and tearing down of old ones. In the end, with repetition and diligence, I will see valuable results.