Chief Instructor: Sifu John C. Loupos - Since 1968

In the Moment, Not For the Moment

by Sifu John Loupos

One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, especially internal arts such as Tai Chi, is the manner in which their practice encourages one to be ‘in the moment’. This idea of living in the moment is often confused (and most frequency by those least inclined to be ‘in’ the moment) with living ‘for’ the moment.

Allow me to make an important distinction. Living ‘in the moment’ implies one’s ability (that’s YOU!) to be fully present to yourself. Being in the moment does not mean you never take time to think about the past as a way to reflect on and refine the lessons of your life. Nor does being in the moment mean you fail to prepare for the future. Living in the moment simply means that you always have full and complete access to yourself in whatever moment you are in, as well as the ability to act deliberately and clearly from that very moment.

By comparison, living ‘for’ the moment usually means that one is living out of balance, perhaps in reaction to stressors (real or perceived) that are beyond one’s ability to cope with in any productive way. The consequence of this is that there is often some form or fashion of arrested development, or getting ‘stuck’. Arrested development (AD) may be pronounced, as in the case of individuals who lead lives that are clearly dysfunctional, i.e. drug addicts, criminals, etc. Or AD may be more benign. Most people live out of, or for, the moment to a greater or lessor degree. While pronounced and severely dysfunctional living will likely be a defining quality for someone who lives only for the moment, the great majority of people are able to compensate with socially acceptable coping methods. In fact, for most of us there is a distinction between living for the moment and its more prevalent and benign cousin, living out of the moment. Even so, living ‘out of’ the moment, though less dysfunctional than living ‘for’ the moment, is an uncomfortable place to be stuck, as almost anybody who experiences ongoing stress in their life can attest to.

Hence the value and popularity of Kung Fu and Tai Chi. Martial arts, and Tai Chi in particular, are integrative mind/body disciplines. This means that these age old practices dually and simultaneously address the fitness needs of your mind and your body. As you practice Kung Fu and/or Tai Chi over time your practice becomes as a living philosophy. These disciplines are not just theories to be pondered over, they are real and concrete activities that you engage in. And whilst you’re engaged in their practice it’s almost impossible do them mindlessly. You must be attentive to, and aware of, what it is you are doing at all times.

By virtue of this enhanced attention and awareness, you will find yourself more present to yourself and better able to access your full range of personal resources due to your being less inclined to get stuck out of the now. Being better able to live in the moment allows you to participate more fully and deliberately as the director your own life, and to make the best use of your most precious and finite commodity, time.

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