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Posts Tagged ‘present moment’

Ralph Waldo Emerson “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”[1]

What does that quote mean to you?

In Zen we have a practice of sitting zazen or meditating and Katageri Roshi, one of the most recognized Zen Buddhist priests in America, wrote this about the junction of these two ideas: living and buddha-nature. He says, “Don’t attach to thoughts and emotions, just let them return to emptiness. Just be present there and swim in buddha-nature (page xiii).” [1]

Just be “present” be ready to live each and every moment.  As I found my mind wandering in meditation this morning I realized that I had just squandered away several minutes of my life!  I just gave up the “present moment.” I missed the experience of the feel of the cushion beneath me, of hearing the breath of those near me, of the sounds of the cars driving by on the road, and of the birds chirping in the trees.

I forgot to live!  What I was doing was getting ready to live later on by creating a conversation with someone in my head that may or may not even happen in the future. I was “getting ready to live” but not really living.

The Teachings of Ptahhotep tells us to “Follow your heart as long as you live (page 21).”[2] But if you are living in the future with thoughts and fears, or living in the past with memories and regrets you are not actually “living.” What is your heart telling you to do right now?  What are you doing right now? What are you thinking right now?  Are you getting ready to live or are you actually living?

“Swim in buddha-nature” means to be fully present in the now moment. I love the picture that comes into my mind when he uses the word “swim.” I can see myself in the swimming pool at my grandmother’s house and since I could not swim on top of the water I had to always swim under the water there I was surrounded by buddha-nature above, below, and around me: swimming in buddha-nature.

I was really living!  I had to be perfectly present in that moment in order to hold my breath, keep my eyes out for others swimming in the pool who might not see me below, and still keep swimming.  I had to keep my mind on how long I could hold my breath, and when I was close to running out of air, and when it was time to start swimming to the top!  One time I did not realize how deep I had gone and I panicked and thought I was going to drown! But alas, I was swimming in buddha-nature” and made it safely to the top before I ran out of breath.

Don’t be following what Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.” Don’t be that person! Be the one that is swimming through life with happiness and glee! Following your heart with each breath—in each moment.

Let me know how that “living” is going!

Shokai

[1] Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow Wisdom Publications: Boston, MA

[2] Hillard A.G. Williams, L. & N. Damali Editors. (1987) The Teachings of Ptahhotep The Oldest Book in the World. Blackwood Press: Atlanta, GA.

[1] [1] Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. http://www.odeliafloris.com

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Being mindful in life, in the classroom, at work, at home or at play can increase your powers of concentration, recognition, memory, and more.  Would you like a better relationship with your significant other?  Then using mindfulness techniques in your relationship just might help.  When was the last time you forgot his or her birthday, an anniversary, or her favorite food or that he liked his coffee black?  Want to have a better relationship with your boss, co-workers, and customers?  How mindful were you at that last meeting with them?  Was your mind wandering from to-do list to- do list so much so that you couldn’t even remember what he or she said, what they were wearing, or the color of his or her eyes or hair?  If this sounds like you help is on the way!

Russell Simmons in his new book Success through Stillness writes, “…we eventually come to understand that our happiness is derived from being present in the moment.  In seeing the miracles that are constantly unfolding around us every second, instead of blindly running past them (page 51).[1]  So here is the trick…when you catch your mind wandering, acknowledge it and invite it to come back into the present moment.  Whether you are reading a text for school or work, washing the dishes or the car, or waiting for a bus bring yourself back into the now moment.  Take a deep breath, scan your environment, focus on the person you are speaking to or the book that you are reading or the assignment that you are writing and smile. Yes, smile! Don’t put yourself down or criticize yourself for having that wandering mind just be grateful that you are beginning to recognize it and call it back to the now moment.

I like to help my students practice being mindful with a simple exercise like taking a piece of wrapped hard candy and using every one of your senses to “experience” the candy.  Yes, experience the candy.  Most of the time when we just eat the candy: We just unwrap it and throw it into our mouths and never really know what it felt like or tasted like and seconds later some of us have forgotten that we’ve even eaten it!

So try this and see what happens.  Take the candy and use all 5 of your senses to eat it. How does it feel to the touch?  Look at it before unwrapping it and after unwrapping it.  See its color, texture, shape, and more.  Listen to the sounds it makes as you do that.  Next, smell the candy and really smell it. Yes, hard candy does have some luscious smells!  Next, hold it in your mouth and feel what it feels like in there.  Is it sharp, soft, hard, feel it as it melts does it get slippery?  What happens to your saliva?  Does it taste different when you move it around your mouth from one place to another?  Really “experience” the candy.  Many of my students have noted after this exercise that this was the “best” candy they had ever eaten.  Why?  Because they actually took time to “experience” it.

What would happen if you spent your life really experiencing it—seeing the people, places, and things around you? What if you really smelled the smells, felt the textures, and enjoyed the views.  Really read the words that the author has written—really put yourself into the writing.  Really be there!  What would happen if you really looked at the cashier behind the register?  Saw him or her as a real human being with feelings, likes, dreams, and ambitions.  Like you!

Woody Allen once said that he’d never met a man on his deathbed who said “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” I have always said that when I die on my tombstone I want it written that “She died having no regrets.”  How about you? What will yours say?

Live life today—experience  it every moment, no matter how many times you have to remind yourself to “be in the now moment.”  Simply be here now!  Now is the only time there really is.


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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