We’re a fast people here in America. Always racing to get from here to there. Lining up at the Mac store for the new iPad. Talking to our family or friends while we’re usually emailing or texting someone else. How can we be engaged with life when we have this kind of scattered attention? How often are we actually in the moment?
It’s super refreshing to take some time to just settle a bit. I have a friend from Argentina who’s told me about their four-hour long dinners over there. Sure, here in America, we may have the occasional four-hour-plus dinner with family or friends, but it’s definitely a rare occasion. How often do we eat dinner while checking emails, facebook, or talking on the phone while on the run. Even if we’re not doing that, how often are we actually enjoying it? If we’re with family or friends, do we really slow down our mental chaos enough to purely enjoy the time with them?
In our meeting at the dojo last night, we discussed the Japanese term ‘ichi-go ichi-e’ which is commonly used in tea ceremonies. This concept is often translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.” Our teacher was saying how in the days of O’Sensei, he and his peers lived in a whole different era. War was constantly looming and they lived with the reality that they may not see each other a week from now, a day from now, or an hour from now. In the event of a life-or-death struggle, there is no opportunity to “try again.”
In the dojo, we do techniques over and over again. What I took our teacher as saying was that each time we do a technique, we should see it as a singular event and realize that it’s possible that we may not have the opportunity to see this person again. These days here in current America, it’s tough for us to get in that mindset. A lot of us just don’t live with that being a real highly probable possibility. Some of us do, but for those of us who don’t, it can be difficult to foster this intention.
As always in Aikido, this can be taken off the mat and carried into the comfort of our own homes. Enjoy your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to slow down a bit. A lot of us fear our own mental chatter which seems to speak up when we slow down urging us to jump back into the rat race. This is something that needs to be dealt with. I recommend Aikido as a perfect tool to help deal with this, but meditation, yoga, tai chi, or whatever can be applied to quiet that is very useful. If you’re not enjoying the stillness of life, you’re missing out on one of the most enjoyable aspects of life you can partake in. Have more of those four-hour dinners.