Practising totality

Practising totality, becoming completely with the actions we are performing.

Practising Zen is practising not looking around when we are doing something but being completely one with the present activity, no matters what that activity is. Becoming one with the activity we are doing means devoting 100% of us to it. We might have the tendency to do something whilst thinking of something else. It goes without saying that this creates a split between the body active in the present moment (it could not be otherwise) and the mind occupied with something else; busy in some future fantasy or occupied by some past mulling over. Practising in the present moment, practising the present moment means bringing these two elements, our body and our mind in the same exact place, here and now. Of course, that does not mean that we can’t dedicate time to future plans or think of a past memory, not at all, however, when we need/want to do that, we just dedicate 100% of ourself to do that. No split, no separation, just totally present with the activity we have decided to engage with, whether that is a physical action or a mental action. Can we devote 100% of ourself to all we do? Can we bring the mind and the body in the same very place, this present moment?

Practising Zen is to practise being totally in the present moment. The mind, most likely and most of the time, has a different agenda which is not concerned at all with what is happening here and now. The practice consists of training ourself to just keep coming back, totally, to what we are doing. In the process of this training, we might realise that little by little we are becoming more present with what is in front of us and less distracted by other elements which are not really relevant to what is here and now. We stop looking around, mentally and physically and we start more and more to align with what is really necessary to do.

We can start this type of practice with something easy, like walking, just dedicate yourself totally to walking. Deliberately drop all the mental activities and just rest the mind into the walking activity, become one with walking, just be walking. Then we can pick an activity which we might consider more challenging, perhaps driving or listening to someone without getting distracted, debating with someone by remaining present and open with each moment of the debate and so on. We can start small and little by little it becomes more and more natural to experience total devotion to what we are doing only. We could even call it the practice of no rushing things or the practice of developing patience and enjoying this very present moment, as totally as we can possibly do, moment to moment.

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My name is Riccardo, I am from Italy but I have been living in Cambridge for more than 20 years. I am a qualified Meditation and Mindfulness teacher, a Zen student and a trainee Junior Zen teacher. I have a degree in Philosophy and a Master degree in Communication Studies. Main hobby, cycling.

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