In terms of its application to the massage table, we apply a method of insight-meditation known as vipassana, which originated in Myanmar (Burma), emerging from the
Theravada Buddhist tradition. As a core practice,
it emphasizes mindfulness of bodily sensation. The method begins with a period of
anapana (focused breathing) to
stabilize the mind, followed by resting the mind upon any sensation that arises in the body. One technique to
facilitate this process is to scan the body from head to feet in a specific sequence. (When performing massage, it's beneficial to ask the client to place all their awareness in each spot as it's being worked on.)

Not just a shaving cream

Experience shows that before a competent massage, the client can be broody, moody, melancholy, pissy (as can the person doing the massage). These negative
characteristics are indicative of a lack of focus coupled with
self-absorption. Since they are invariably diminished and often eliminated after a massage, we can assume that to some extent the massage succeeded in enhancing the person's focus and paradoxically their other-directedness as well.

Tea Ceremony
Let's take focus one step further into a realm where it's been displayed most famously - the Japanese tea
ceremony. It's also known as The Way of Tea, an outgrowth of Zen Buddhism.

A key element of the ritual is that it's a highly focused
end in itself. This also fits one of the definitions of an optimal experience as described by Maslow.

The performer is not trying to "accomplish" any end result, and each moment is the end (as well as the beginning, I would surmise). So it is with the Zen approach to sitting, which is more about the "suchness" of sitting, not the
technique of sitting in order to gain something.
The gain comes from the release of any intention to "get somewhere." We radiate intensity while remaining detached from ulterior agendas.

As Gandhi once stressed, in all our doings the end is
inherent within the means.
How we do something is just as important as what we're trying to do.

Zen Buddhism in practice

On a more practical level, the great automaker Henry Ford concentrated on building quality automobiles, and they held together even to this day. Most other
manufacturers of his time concentrated on style, and they're forgotten. (Ford abhorred investors whose main purpose was to extract the highest possible price from

In terms of the sales process, a leading sales trainer and writer named Zig Ziglar
mentions this same fact: One of the reasons that working through the sales process is so difficult for some people is that it requires them to
think. They're often so intent on getting the sale that they stop thinking, or they think about the result they want - to the detriment of the intermediate steps. In other words they're end-gaining: focusing on the end result and going unconscious about the ongoing process. Their head is either in the clouds or up their ass, take your pick.

The ancient Greeks had a word for such a space:
autotelic. The term derives from the words auto, meaning self, and telos, meaning goal. It refers to a self-contained
activity, one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because
the doing itself is the reward. Wikipedia defines autotelic as "having a
purpose in and not apart from itself" (pretty good). When an experience is autotelic the person is paying attention to the activity for its own sake; when it is not,
the attention is focused on its consequences, not to mention any underlying agendas.

Said the Chinese sage Lao Tzu: Only he who rids himself
forever of desires (ulterior motives and agendas) can see the Secret Essences (Plato's 'inviolate rose.') He that has never rid himself of desire can see only the outcomes.

Says the Buddhist monk and prolific writer Thich Nhat Hanh, "Whatever you are doing should be the most important thing for you at that moment. You shouldn't be trying to get it over with." (I've noticed that when I stop trying to get a ho-hum moment or event "over with" and start getting into it, even if by sheer willpower alone, I can sometimes create a "magic space" where things start to hum.) Be fully aware of what the moment
needs, what it's asking you for, and give your
attention to the person in front of you. If you're trying to get the moment over with, or if it lingers to an annoying degree, it needs something you're not giving it. Don't be thinking about some abstraction or what you'll do afterwards, and have faith that people in life sometimes "accidentally" meet up with us for a Higher Purpose.

'To the mind that is still, the whole Universe surrenders.'

Lao Tzu
6th century BC

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