Zen teaches to live in the moment. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. The only thing that truly matters is the present moment.
This is extremely hard to do.
To live in the moment does not mean to live a reckless life. What I believe the Zen teaching refers to is to whatever it is that you’re doing at this moment you should do that with all your intentions and mindfulness. It doesn’t mean to do things without thinking of the consequences of tomorrow.
The past is also extremely hard to let go of. We cling to bad memories because we are hurt and angry at them. We cling to good memories because it makes us happy and brings us joy. The reality is the past, whether good or bad, does not exist anymore. Keeping a tight grip on your past does nothing but preventing you from living in the moment that actually exist: the present.
I do think, however, that it is important to reflect on the past and learn from it. The past teaches us invaluable lessons for the present and for the future.
We like to take time during the Holidays to reflect on the passing year and set goals for the new one coming.
I have a hard time setting goals.
I like to set intentions instead.
To have intentions is to have a an aim, a plan, a purpose. However you get there will be your journey through the year, and that’s for you to discover as you go along. The intention is your north start; the constant guide letting you know where you want to be. Intentions also help you live in the moment and pay attention to what’s here, right now, in front of your eyes.
2015 was an amazing year for me and Gohitsu Shodo Studio. Before I set my intentions for the new year, I’d like to take quick reflection on what happened in 2015:
1. My second live calligraphy workshop took place on January 17. I had 8 students and it was a total blast!
2. My Intro to Japanese Calligraphy Online Course launched on March 27. It opened for enrollment again during the summer and one more time in the fall. As of right now, over 50 students are enrolled.
3. In April I did a challenge called #AprilDailyKanji where I brushed one Kanji everyday for the month of April and posted it on Instagram. This daily challenge was one of the most valuable things I did this year.
4. Also in April, I taught my first joint seminar with Greg Noble Sensei, Chief Instructor of Zenshinkai Aikido Association. We taught a Zen, Aikido, Shodo weekend seminar together in Brooklyn, NY. We’re doing it again in 2016!
5. In August I decided to do another daily challenge: #AugustDailyKanji. This time I wanted to step up my game. I not only brushed one kanji everyday, but I also made a daily vlog to go with the kanji. It was really hard to do a daily vlog, but I learned so much. I look forward to do this again. Also, and more importantly, I didn’t do this alone. I had a group of students from the course doing the challenge with me. They only did the brushing daily part, I was the only nut doing the video thing. It was awesome to see their work everyday for 30 days.
6. On July 16 I launched my first Zen Calligraphy t-shirt through Teespring. A bunch of people ordered one and I’m super happy with the way it came out.
8. My sister-in-law is Jen Welter, yep, the first woman to coach in the NFL. When she was working with the Arizona Cardinals she asked me to make prints with the phrase SOKU KON MOKU ZEN to give out to the players on their first game of the season. We printed 100 copies and I hand stamped them all. It was a great honor to do this for her and I’m told the players loved it!
9. Also in September the website got a major overhaul. I spent countless hours at night working on it and I think it’s the best look it ever had.
10. In October I launched my second t-shirt through Teespring. This one had the word KIAI. I’m super happy with the way it came out. I think I may put this again for sale in 2016.
11. In December I put up for sale over 20 new original calligraphies at the Etsy Store. It is the most calligraphies I’ve ever had for sale on Etsy, and truly my best work yet!
This list is just a short summary of the many great things that happened in 2015. I’m super excited to set my intentions for 2016 and take the studio to a whole new level. My intentions for 2016 are my most ambitious yet, but I’ll save that for another email in January.
I encourage you to do the same. Write down a small list reflecting on what you accomplished in 2015 and then write your intentions for the New Year. The mindset is the most important thing.
After reflecting on the past, let it go, and focus on what’s here, right now, before your eyes.
SOKU KON MOKU ZEN