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Monday, July 6,2015

Now and Zen

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

They go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire; like peanut butter and chocolate; like milk and cookies. You can’t really have one without the other. On the other hand, ‘Now’ and ‘Zen’ are like oil and water if you happen to be in the middle of a tooth extraction, as complete presence in a moment like that is a challenge - hence the novacaine! The point is, you can really only appreciate the fullness of each moment if you stay in the present.


Kids get this. They live in the present. They have no worries about paying the mortgage or going to a job everyday. They don’t have anyone else that depends on them. They are not aware enough yet to even think about their purpose in this world. Nope - they just lose themselves in play. And interestingly, the way they play is so close to the true spirit of their being that if they could just hold onto what makes them happy their future might be so much easier. They create, they sing, they role play, they run, spin, and they fall down to their hearts’ content. And, of course, they cry their eyes out when something doesn’t go their way, but that is because they are living in the moment. Children don’t even have the ability to appreciate that “this too shall pass” which is why just coming in for dinner can be heartbreaking. Until dessert! Then it’s happy days again. Kids are living, breathing examples of ‘Now’ and ‘Zen.’

Of course it’s unrealistic for adults to go around behaving like children. Adulthood comes with responsibilities. It is our job to keep things together so kids can be kids and immature adults can be, how shall I say it… obnoxious. But here is where Zen can help the Now. Finding your Zen zone requires nothing more than deep focus on the breathing you are doing right here, right now and being grateful for it. If something or someone creates discomfort around you, shift your gaze inside and breathe.

Now, if this doesn’t work, if you find yourself in a situation where the annoyance is conducting a meeting you are attending, or even trying to have a direct conversation with you, you may need a stronger antidote. And since novacaine doesn’t really work in this situation, you can find your own escape.

Still focus inward. Still breathe. And notice. Are your muscles tense? Relax them as you breathe. Is there a pleasant scent you can focus on? Something pretty to look at, like a painting or a tree or a blue sky? Or how about remembering for a moment that the person you have decided is bugging you is not really that person at all, but a mere manifestation of the situation you happen to be in at that moment. Imagine their true being; see their humanity removed from the situation. What color are their eyes? Do they sparkle? Like them or not, they might have nice eyes. Don’t judge. Imagine them as a stranger. Distract yourself back to a state of peace by experiencing everything moment by moment. Let go. Ahhhh. Yes. Do this every Now and Zen and the world will be a better place. And if that doesn’t work, spin around really fast a few times and fall down laughing. Go ahead. I dare you. Namaste.


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