An important aspect of Presence Practice is the continuing invention of new reminding tools, practices that renew our present-moment focus. When we become acutely aware that the key to Presence lies in the senses, we can begin creating new tools to connect to our senses in our ordinary moments, making them extraordinary. Truly the only difference ever, between an ordinary moment and an extraordinary moment, is Presence. One such exercise for me is what I call Walking the Rice Paper.
In the 1970’s there was a television series called Kung Fu. In the opening scenes each episode we find the main character as a young boy living in a Chinese monastery studying to be a Shaolin priest. An initiation for him was to walk a length of rice paper rolled out on the floor with out damaging the paper, leaving no marks or tears. As a young boy he fails in this endeavor. Later, as a young man he walks the rice paper successfully, leaving no trace. It’s part of his graduation ritual. You can see how he carefully pays intense attention to each step he takes, carefully rolling his foot down, slowly putting weight on the foot, rolling it forward and intentionally lifting it off. He obviously is fully engaged in the exercise, no drop of his attention is elsewhere, he’s fully in-the-moment.
Make this a Presence exercise anytime you walk somewhere. Make taking each step the most important act in your life, as if your life depended on it. Be like a tight rope walker walking a cable stretched between two tall buildings with no safety net. His life definitely depends upon his ability to focus. So too does ours, we’re just less aware of it. Every act we perform in our moment-to-moment existence has a consequence, changes everything around us, brings us to a new reality. How often in your life has an unconscious act led you to a disaster that could have been avoided through a simple act of Presence?