Coronapause Entry # 2: Boketto – Gazing Absentmindedly

23 Mar

To see how my #Coronapause journal started please click here: – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/22/coronapause-day-1-it-starts/

Now, for today’s #Coronapause topic – Boketto (Gazing Absentmindedly)

Real bad, depressing morning during my #Coronapause, but I got through it with Boketto & hope you will too. I think it would be best if you please start with this video:



So, another day of our #CoronaPause. What to do with the time on a Monday morning? Ironic, huh? Normally filed with hectic activity, Monday morning has become – this – the “new normal” to borrow a term from my wife’s oncologist.

Throughout the day I’m using my Kata-RX techniques to keep moving forward, one step, one foot simply moving in front of the other. One of those techniques I’d like to share with you today. It is a simple, meditative practice called “Boketto.”

Boketto is the practice of gazing into the distance without preconception or thought. Whenever possible, I really like to do Boketto outdoors but I was reminded today that even indoors Boketto is fulfilling.

Now, there’s two tricks to Boketto.
 – no distractions
 – no thinking. – even minimal thinking such as mentally labeling things is not permitted.

It is recognized that the higher concept of the mind is born in the squishy, gelatinous organ known as the brain. For Boketto you need to turn off, to quiet, the mind – to be “absent-minded.” Let me give you an analogy. It is extremely relaxing when I sit and pet our dog, Maharet (named after an Anne Rice character). Why? Like Boketto it is done absentmindedly. You just sit and enjoy, you don’t analyze, you don’t label, you just do and let it flow through you. Same with Boketto only not with your hands, with your eyes – and – you don’t get dog hair all over you.

Let’s see what I mean. Here’s a photo of the spare bedroom that my eleven year old grandson uses when he sleeps over. Yes, that’s Maharet (“Maha” for short) in the photo.



I used Boketto on this room many times today. The feeling of loss not being able to have him visit, to hug him and just be Grandpa and Grandson weighs like a boulder on me. Boketto helps lessen the weight. Notice I didn’t say removes the weight. But, it does help. So let me offer some points on your Boketto practice:

1. The view doesn’t matter.
You don’t need to gaze at Mt. Fuji during cherry blossom time, or the Grand Canyon, or a pristine beach. For many reasons, the view is immaterial. The view, for now, is but a tool to facilitate the gazing. I can’t say it enough, ANYbody, ANYplace, ANYtime can use these techniques;

2. “Eyes of a white belt.”
Don’t label or describe what you see, use the “eyes of a white belt.” Gaze at everything, wonder at everything – understand nothing of what you see. I can still remember my first karate class – I had no idea what I was seeing. It was a crazy spectacle where names held NO meaning, “Reverse punch” meant nothing. “Block and counter” was like a foreign language. And, what the heck is Sanchin Kata? Heaven help! All I could do is watch and observe. See what the labels did not describe. Then, slowly over time came the application of my gazing, my Boketto – analysis, recognition, and dare I say, comprehension.

For example, today I didn’t gaze at my grandson’s room for the purpose of thinking of him. Rather, I just simply gazed at his room for NO reason. That is Boketto.

3. Souvenir effect.
Practicing Boketto outdoors triggers what I call the “Souvenir Effect.” I would practice my Kata-RX wherever I go, using Boketto, I’ve imprinted not merely memories, but sensations, feelings, emotions of that place and time. A Souvenir if you will. As you read above the souvenir effect applies not only to places but also to people.If you’re curious, here’s more https://senseijohn.me/2019/10/16/kata-rx-souvenir-effect/

4. Higher states-of-mind to come.
Boketto is the building block to achieve a higher state of mind called “Mushin-No-Shin” or “Mushin” for short. Mushin is the state of “Mind-No-Mind” unique (perhaps) to the martial arts but every valuable in everyday life. I think a video/post on Mushin is about a week away.

So, if you’d like, take a #Coronapause today, give Boketto a try. Let’s see if you can use Boketto to feel the souvenir effect as I did:
Find an object that some one you miss gave you or something else connected with them. Using Boketto gaze at it without though and preconception. Use it to let your quiet calm mind recall that person, not details, but abstracts. Their joy, warmth, sense of humor, the WAY they smile and use that goodness to get you through the next moment of your #Coronapause, and the next and moment yet to come.

Stay well, healthy, find one thing to smile at & tomorrow we’ll look at basic breathing and body movement. And – now here’s my official seal, so its “official”

Sensei John

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