I’ve been reading this book by Eckhart Tolle called The Power of Now. Somebody gave it to me a long time ago and now is when I’m getting around to it.
I love reading books that use the philosophies of Zen to help us see the world in a different way.
The martial arts are, of course, connected to Zen from their very origins. The nature of the arts makes them a perfect practice for the teachings of Zen.
One of the main things the book talks about is the ability to stay present. This is one of the main concepts in Zen.
It’s interesting that the teachings talk so much about being present and really make it the principal practice of the spiritual system. It’s so simple. It really sometimes makes you feel stupid, just cause you didn’t see it before.
Stay in the now. Don’t wonder about the future or the past. Just stay present.
Staying present simply means staying in the now, partaking of the events that are actually occurring to you in the moment.
A lot of the times we don’t really pay attention to whatever it is that’s going on with us. We think we are paying attention but we’re not.
What we’re really doing is projecting our minds onto the situation.
Our mind immediately comes up with a possibility of how this all will turn up and how we feel about it. We then start living our lives according to that projection. Not according to the reality, but according to the preconception in our mind. This happens instantaneously.
Sometimes the projection includes events that have happened in the past and so we think that whatever is happening now will inevitably turn up the same way. Our mind loves this. It loves its own neurosis.
In the book, Tolle describes it as living in man-made time. Either living in the past or living in the future.
And this is how we spend a great deal of our time if not all of it.
It begs the question: What about the now?
Well, what happens is that we don’t give ourselves the privilege of actually experiencing it.
Sometimes, because of a traumatic experience or because we find ourselves backed up against a wall, we are forced to live in the now. We actually experience the world as it is, not as our minds make it seem. Then we start seeing the incredible possibilities of the moment. We get a glimpse at the great miracle of life.
Living and staying present dissolves the overwhelming influence of time over our lives. It dissolves the influence of the mind.
Have you ever had your teacher tell you that you’re using your mind too much?
I think we’ve all heard that at one point or another. “You’re thinking too much!” “Get out of your head!”
What you’re doing is not reacting to the present from an awake state. You’re projecting on to the future or reliving the past. The present then passes you by.
Next time you’re practicing, try to stay as much as you can in the present. You can use your breathing to do it, or you can use the movements of your opponent.
Stay focused. Stay in the now and try to calm the constant chatter of the mind. You’ll be surprised what your body can do – what your body actually knows without the interference of the mind.