One of my friends and teachers is Eric Klein. He is simply brilliant.
I learn something from him almost every day. The clarity of his heart and mind shines through in everything he offers.
Eric helped me find the focus that is Savor & Serve.
I am blessed to share him with you today! Be sure and read to find the truth prize hidden in this particularly flavorful interview.
Savor & Serve with Eric Klein
How do you savor?
First let me say – I love the word savor.
I’m so glad that you’re putting it front and center. Savoring is such a deeply embodied word. It invites me to taste life fully. To touch and be touched by life. How do I do this?
One way is through daily meditation practice. For forty years this simple ritual of sitting, breathing, and opening has been a part of my life. And for many years it was more about striving & straining than savoring.
Through practice – on the meditation cushion and in daily life – I gradually I lost my appetite for striving and straining. But not for practice! Quite the opposite. As striving and straining released, meditation revealed itself as a savoring ritual.
Meditation and savoring are one.
Formal meditation is an opportunity to savor the experience of sitting still. To feel the texture of the breath. To resonate with the ancient mantras. And to open to the Presence that is ever-present.
In savoring meditation I discover how to open to and include the unexpected and even the unwanted. Because in savoring there are no rejected ingredients. All is welcome into the chrysalis of the heart.
Thus meditation becomes the test kitchen in which I learn how to savor even the most challenging emotions. When uninvited guests (thoughts) come knocking . . . savoring meditation teaches me how to make room for them at the table of awareness.
All this formal meditation develops capacities for savoring that can then infuse daily life.
That’s the idea, at least. And one that after 40 years of formal practice, I believe in more and more. The capacity to savor whatever arises in formal practice, translates into a flexible, humorous, and courageous way of living.
What did you savor today?
I spoke with my wife on the phone today. I was entangled in some technical problem and feeling pressured. A part of me wanted to “pass along” my frustration and tension to her.
But another part of me observed this impulse with loving awareness and asked, “Is that really what you want?”
It wasn’t. Rather than pass along the tension to her, I let it pass through my body. I felt it filter through my arms and legs . . . and I took a deep breath. Ahhhhh . . . Then I savored listening to her voice and picturing her at the cottage in upstate New York.
Sometimes savoring feels like the most wonderful way to open to reality and other times it can feel like the “workshop lifestyle” to me, something I am efforting to do. Any thoughts on that?
The workshop lifestyle turns life into on-going self-improvement project.
In every experience there’s something to be fixed. This seriously gets in the way of savoring.
As long as your attention is focused on improving the self – you’re not savoring.
Not that the self doesn’t need improvement.
The great Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi once looked out at the audience attending his lecture and said, “All of you are perfect just as you are . . . and you could use a little improvement.”
That’s real savoring.
When you hold both of these realizations at the same time, you can engage in “improvement” exercises with a savoring mind.
Imagine doing a yoga pose.
You could do that pose with improvement-mind. In which case you will be aware of all the ways in which your performance disqualifies you for a photo spread in Yoga Journal. This may motivate you to try harder or to flop back on the couch.
Alternately, you could do the pose with its-perfect-mind. Then you would revel in your personal, unique expression of the pose and congratulate yourself on doing yoga your way.
Savoring isn’t found in improvement-mind or its-perfect-mind. Savoring includes and integrates both.
Through savoring you can experience the perfection of the moment AND feel drawn to refining and deepening your practice. Not to improve something that needs fixin’. But to explore and express the possibilities that are yet undiscovered.
Savoring is the antidote to workshop lifestyle. Through savoring you allow the perfection of the moment to touch you. And you also discern that next time you’ll add a little more salt to the pesto. Neither awareness-of-perfection nor awareness-of-needing-a-little-improvement cancels the other out. They coexist in the richness that is savoring.
How do you help your students take care of themselves and serve the world?
What I’ve found most helpful is telling the truth. Tell the truth as much as you can – at least to yourself. When you tell the truth – what to do becomes clear.
If you could serve in any way possible – no restraints, limitations, or boundaries, what would you do? What would that look like?
Now I have to tell the truth!! Yikes! (Jen’s note: Eric didn’t completely tell the truth read my note in his bio.)
I would create:
Art (songs, stories, movies, programs, and books) that express/reveal the ever-present blessing of life
A community where people could share, deepen, and express that blessing.
Eric Klein is a best-selling leadership author and an ordained teacher in a 5,000 year old yoga lineage. You can download his totally fantastic free book 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma here. He leads a church. That’s the whole truth.