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Friday, May 01, 2009

Cherry contemplations

We had a little gathering last Saturday under the blossoming cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, definitely one of the highlights of our first annual Cherry Blossom Festival to mark the third anniversary of The Reiki Digest, the second anniversary of The Reiki Dojo, and what turned out to be the most beautiful spring day we've had so far this year in the New York City area. 

Our goal was simple: to pause for a moment in our busy lives and simply take notice of the ephemeral beauty of the moment, if not exactly as cherry blossom viewing is practiced in Japan, then at least in the same spirit.

This was our first such gathering, so there were a few logistics to work out. Fortunately, most everyone travels with a mobile phone these days, so I figured that even if some participants were lost or late, we could find each other in the garden. I brought my trusty iPhone along, and gave it a workout on the way there. On the subway, I listened to music, played games, and read books using the iPhone's Kindle app, and when I emerged into the sunshine at the garden, I quickly pulled out the iPhone to check for any last-minute calls, emails, or text messages. And then I kept it out to take photos of the garden in bloom. I was the first to arrive at our designated meeting point, so I took some more photos. I clicked and clicked and tapped and tapped and otherwise kept busy multitasking away. Until -- just moments before the appointed time for the event, the iPhone notified me that its battery was too low and promptly shut itself off. 

I couldn't believe it: The battery was full when I left home that morning! I went through all the emotions the Reiki precepts warn us against: angry at myself for using up my battery playing games, worried that some participants would get to the Garden and call and get nothing but my voicemail, and otherwise wrapped up in my own self-induced problem. 

As it turned out, everyone attending the gathering was able to find the meeting spot, and we had a wonderful afternoon. We walked around the pond in the Japanese garden, visited the kuramayama cherry tree, and walked past the double rows of trees called "Cherry Lane" several times, each time noticing that the buds were getting closer to opening. By the time we walked through Cherry Lane again on our way out that afternoon, several trees had open blossoms, so we literally got to see the trees in the process of blossoming.

And it wasn't until I was on the way home, with no music to listen to, no games to play, no ebooks to read or web to surf or other modern electronic conveniences, that I began to comprehend the lessons I learned among the cherry blossoms that day.

For one thing, you get what you ask for. My goal was to stop and enjoy the moment, and my iPhone shut down just at the time I'd planned to do that. For another thing, multitasking and focusing can't be done simultaneously. Stopping to watch the cherries bloom means doing just that: stopping. 

You might think that as a trained and experienced Reiki practitioner, I would have learned that lesson, once and for all, long ago. But it doesn't work that way. There are some lessons that can't just be filed away once we learn them. They have to be learned again and again, moment by moment. That's what practice is all about.

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