The Book of Ichigo Ichie - Making the Most of Every Moment

By The Boy Who Procrastinates - June 20, 2020

The proliferation of technology and social media has molded a perilous online environment where our senses are constantly assaulted with an endless barrage of information. 

In this current age of complete distraction, coupled with our culture of superficial engagement and instant gratification, it is fathomable to turn to the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie for guidance in achieving mindfulness. 

During the circuit breaker period, I was introduced to The Book of Ichigo Ichie authored by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. Ichigo Ichie (一期一会) can be translated as "Once, a meeting" and also as "In this moment, an opportunity". This means that each meeting and everything that we experience is a unique treasure that will never be repeated in the same way again. So if we let it slip away without enjoying it, the moment will be lost forever. 

In other words, Ichigo Ichie encompasses both the idea of observing and cherishing each moment, and the practice of harnessing that attention to achieve harmony with others and love of life. Sometimes, I would like to think that it serves as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of our existence.

Interestingly, the subtitle of the movie, Forrest Gump in Japanese is "Ichigo Ichie", likely because the protagonist has appreciated the chance encounters and serendipitous moments in the film.

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.                                                                                                           - Heraclitus
With that said, the book delivers a guide to relishing everyday experiences and appreciating the gift of every moment. And here are some pointers on how to incorporate Ichigo Ichie into your own life:

Put Down your Phones

In a world where we are so often buried in our screens and our gaze rooted to the rectangular objects buzzing in our hands, it can be difficult to stay focused on where we are now, on what we are doing now, and on whom we are with right now. Ironically, the technological devices that are intended to bring us closer may have also driven us apart. 

Have you ever known someone who is prone to snapping selfies or texting others instead of interacting with friends at a party? While looking at your phone in the company of others may seem innocuous, it detaches you from what matters at that moment: the present. 

So, maybe it is time to put down the phone and start to talk to the world face to face.

Do One Thing at a Time

An old Japanese proverb states that a hunter who takes aim at two prey at once will kill none. The crux of this saying is that we should focus our attention on one thing at a time. 

One study from Stanford University has indicated that people who multitask are more easily distracted, less productive and more likely to make errors. Biologically, the human brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, and bombarding them with information only slows them down.

The spirit of Ichigo Ichie depends on our abilities to listen, see, touch, smell and savour every moment. The present can only been fully experienced when we are doing only one thing at a time and putting our heart and soul into it.

Let Go of Expectations

Naturally, we all set expectations for our lives and for ourselves. But when the reality bursts our expectations, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with disappointment and frustration. 

Making predictions and waiting for certain things to happen removes us from the present and kills the moment. By letting go of expectations, you are able to experience Ichigo Ichie with an uncluttered mind and find joy in each moment.

Dwell in the present

Have you ever felt weighed down by the past or anxious about the future? 

When our mind travels into the past, where pain, regrets and resentment reside or the future, a place of fear and worries, we are pulled away from the present moment.

Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future are often painful and mostly impractical. You are unable to change what has happened or predict what will happen next. But here in this moment, all the possibilities in the world are alive.

Closing Thought

Personally, I find that the book contains useful nuggets of information for anyone looking to align your spirit with the peaceful flow of life. It is definitely beneficial for me to adopt such mindful approach to life and to pay attention to the special moments shared with our loved ones. 

Being present may sound remarkably simple, but in reality, it can be tricky especially when we allow ourselves to get caught up in our everyday worries and obligations.

To quote the American actress, Mae West, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

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Disclaimer: Kindly note that this is not a sponsored post. The author is in no way affiliated with the publisher/author and does not receive any form of remuneration for this post. The Boy who Procrastinates has compiled the information for his own reference, with the hope that it will benefit others as well.

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