The Lost Art of Savoring the Moment:
Can you imagine being able to make the very best decisions at all-times? How much better would your life be if you never had to worry about doing, saying, or even thinking anything wrong? This may sound farfetched but, what Martial Arts Masters have known for thousands of years—is how to slow down one’s internal torrents—so that one can design the next patterns of their upcoming reality.
I’d like to share a Zen anecdote with you that I often share with my students. Once hearing the “punch line”, my advanced students have that EUREKA! epiphany that always makes me proud; the novice students usually look at me with that deer-in-the-headlights stare as if thinking, “What is this supposed to be? Is this it? What are you trying to say, Sensei!?” The anecdote is sometimes titled “Cliffhanger”—which is actually wordplay—for it involves an actual cliff AND it leaves one guessing and hoping for more clarification…
“One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!”
Hmm…what is the point of all that? What happens next? Does the tiger eat the man? Does he fall to his death? How is he so calm in that perilous state—to not only pick the forbidden strawberry—but thoroughly enjoy it! But therein lies the secret, my friends—enjoying the moment for what it is! Isn’t that the quintessence of Zen, Yoga, Tai-Chi, Qigong, and all forms of meditation—to be so immersed in the moment that nothing else matters!?
What is THIS if not the NOW!? The above Zen anecdote does a wonderful job portraying the primordially-acknowledged ethos that, “there is no past, no future, only the NOW!” As Master Oogway from ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ so brilliantly put it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called present.”
It is no secret that in order for a human to evolve themselves—they must not live in the past (in states of depression) and they mustn’t live in the future (in states of anxiety). When a building is being built, it is only as complete as the moment that it is presently witnessed. The past is memory, the future is intention, the NOW is… EVERYTHING!
That said, the past should teach us, the future should drive us! The past shouldn’t upset us, the future mustn’t obsess us! According to Sensei of past and present: to truly mold the clay which is our respective reality to our sincerest liking—we must be totally present in the NOW!
When you drink from a glass of water—do you actually taste it? It’s a weird question, I know but humor me. Do you taste the water or is it simply a reflex mechanism? Take a rosemary sprig and put it into a glass of water. Take a sip of the water now—do you taste a difference? You may or may not taste anything different but, there is a difference from a molecular perspective. Sit cross-legged on the floor or in the lotus position, if you are able to. Put the glass of water with the rosemary next to you and close your eyes. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. Imagine yourself as water: flavorless, boundless, and flowing. Now, pick up the glass of water and sip it, feel the dimensions of the water as it travels from your lips down your throat, becoming one with you. Do you taste anything earthly? Can you describe the taste? Do you smell anything? Do you smell something like a pine or a cedar? Do you feel anything solidifying in your water world behind closed eyes?
Whatever it is that you feel after drinking the water with the rosemary in it—is more that you had felt drinking the water without the herb in it. Mastery is an endless journey of accumulating wisdom. A single sprig of rosemary inside of an otherwise tasteless glass of water—takes your NOW through higher thresholds—no matter how subtle it is that they may be at first. Subtlety is just as important as extremity. As above, so below!
You should continue this meditation numerous times; perhaps adding more rosemary to it, breaking the initial rosemary sprig in half, or amalgamating all sorts of herbs and beneficent elixirs into your ever-growing brew of garnering sagacity! Being present is the first step of your road towards self-mastery! You not only have a blank canvas available for you at any time with a wee bit of concentration—you ARE the canvas! Subtly is bliss! Savor the moment and mold it to what you see fitting. Cheers!
Banner Image: Mindfulness in pouring the tea. Image Credit – 五玄土 ORIENTO