“…When we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
The above, although a wonderful statement and sentiment, is actually a misquote of Einstein’s actual words. For more about the “quote”, look here.
Hopefully this will not come across as too squishy a post, but this is something I’ve noticed in many Paleo/physical culture “transformationalists”. I like to tell people to relax and enjoy the ride, that transformation won’t happen over night – and that it won’t happen at all if it’s pursued as just a means to an end. In Western culture, though, this mindset has come to be seen as a kind of blaspheme. Well, maybe – but I’ve seen the strongest of will powers laid waste to over a bout with diet/physical transformation. It may take longer for some than for others, but if all you bring to the game is sheer will power directed toward finishing and finishing alone, you’re doomed to fail. Those who succeed are able to find something redeeming in the small stuff – the moments, the downtime, etc. How much time surfing is actually spent on the wave? Very little. The rest is spent quietly perched upon the board, paddling, searching for the perfect set up.
The opening quotes from Watts and Einstein pertain to Physical Culture, writ large, and, more specifically, the Paleo lifestyle, in conveying this “in the moment” message. Consider the comment that the elderly Zen master is purported to have made about a young archer’s struggling while in competition: “His need to win prevents him from hitting his mark.” Or, as Eckhart Tolle puts it “His Need to Win Drains him of his Power.” Archery undertaken as a means to an end of achieving the notoriety of winning the event is doomed to sub par results at best. When perused for the love of the sport itself, though – the intricacies, the down time, the feel, sound, smells and sights – when winning becomes simply a cool by-product of the love – this is what brings true success and longevity. Think Tiger Woods and Golf. Everyone needs goals and visions, and these are in fact useful. Every goal reached, though, is only done so via a succession of small, individual steps – moments strung together – and here is where true success is found – or lost.
Know this: the past is done, and can in no way be altered. The future is largely unknowable, and only on a topical level can it be influenced. Therefore, all you really have control over is this moment in time. That is to say, all you really have is this particular rep, this particular bite, this particular food choice. There is a time for planning, to be sure – and a time for execution and reflection as well. The key is not to confuse these elements. Another very Zen idea along these lines is this: when doing dishes, do dishes. Transport this idea to the gym, and it looks like this: when performing explosive dips, perform explosive dips. Only this moment matters – only this moment can you affect.
Success in the moment will result, without your having to worry about it, success in the long haul. Obsessing about “how long will it take to realize such-and-such a change” only leads to stress about the desired change and, eventually, that stress becomes overwhelming, ultimately leading to “giving up” and no change at all.