Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Essence of Quality

The attitude we take towards any task or undertaking reflects on how we view our self. The completed task is the outward reflection of what is going on within. A task done with quality and completeness suggests a quality and completeness inside our being. A task half-finished or done sloppily reflects sloppiness within us. The actual importance of the task is irrelevant with regard to the quality and completeness with which we undertake it. Whether we are doing life-saving surgery, writing a book, washing a car, or tying our shoes, we need to focus all of our attention and concentration on that action. In effect, we want to enter into the essence of it.

Entering into the essence of something means becoming one with the action we are performing. In Japan there is a word shoshin which means “beginner’s mind.” As a beginner, the first time you do something you have to concentrate on it in order to do it correctly, but as you become adept at it you soon stop paying attention to the doing of it. The idea of shoshin is to retain the mindfulness of the beginner even as the task becomes routine. In this manner you are able to enter into the essence of what you are doing and that makes all the difference. Doing anything without entering into its essence is pointless and empty. However, the more fully you enter into something, keeping mindful of it, the more point or meaning it has and the more alive you feel by doing it.

Musicians, dancers, or artists who are able to enter into the essence of their art, become their art - they transcend the doing and are just being. By entering into the essence of your daily tasks you can begin to wake up to the great secret of life – living. The quality of living that results from entering into the essence of everyday life is profound. But only by actually being mindful of what we are doing can we experience it.

In Zen Yoga training we seek to cultivate this practice through simple breathing and movement exercises which help to circulate the energy through the meridians of the body. Just as with tai chi and qigong, Zen Yoga is a spiritual discipline that brings an awareness of the self.

wishing you much peace...


I will have some photos of the Zen Warrior Training Retreat up soon...

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