The attitude we take towards any task or undertaking reflects on how we view our self. The completed task is the outward projection of what is within us. A task done with quality and completeness corresponds to a quality and completeness within while a task half-finished or done sloppily reflects a sloppiness within us. The 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.
By entering into the essence of something, we mean becoming one with the action we are performing. In Japanese 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. By entering into the essence of things, it is possible to feel a connection to the creative principle of the universe. But only by actually being mindful of what we are doing can we reach that goal.
By remembering to be aware of ourselves, we begin to learn how to engage in living life as it occurs. By slowing down and experiencing each thing we do to the full extent we beginning to gain a calm sense of control over our lives. By entering into the essence of something and concentrating on the quality of our actions we begin to sense a true feeling of peace within the self.