Deepen in Each Moment

By Leo Babauta

We live our lives rushing through tasks and messages, meetings and emails, chores and errands, until the end of the day comes and we start again tomorrow.

This is the usual way of living – we’re getting through things so we can be done with them.

The opportunity in all of this is to deepen in every single moment.

This is the heart of Zen practice – to deepen in each moment. To start by awakening to the present moment. To paraphrase Zen master Suzuki Roshi, when our minds are on our thoughts, we miss out on the birds singing nearby. We’re missing out on life, but we can awaken to what’s right in front of us.

We can deepen further: get really curious about what we can notice in this moment. What’s new about it, that we’ve never noticed before? What can we discover, if we pay closer attention? What’s the fine-grained detail of the moment that we barely register most of the time?

And we can continue to deepen: find wonder in every moment, letting the flow of the current experience become a source of magic and wonder and deep appreciation.

And still deepen more: we can awaken to our emotions, and how we want to escape them, or freeze them, rather than just experiencing the flow of the emotions as a stream of experience. We can turn towards this energy of emotions with curiosity, with love.

And still deeper: we can let the experience of the moment, and of our emotions, connect us to the tenderness and openness of our hearts. When we’re feeling frustration or sadness, can we let that connect us to the genuine heart that feels anger and grief? Can we let ourselves connect to the boundless compassion of our hearts, and the immense openness of our bigger minds?

And deepening even more: can we let ourselves awaken to the fleetingness of each moment, to the truth of impermanence, to how the experience of the moment is simply the experience of the flow of change? As we realize this impermanent nature of reality, we can start to realize that there’s nothing to cling to, that our suffering is about trying to cling to clouds.

And realizing all of this, we can realize the sacredness of each moment. The wonder and love present in the flow of experience. The gift of being alive and awake.

What would it be like, to bring this intention, to practice deepening in each moment? How could we remember to practice?