Ichigo ichie can be translated as, "Once, a meeting" and also as "In this moment, an opportunity." What this means to tell us is that each meeting, everything we experience, is a unique treasure that will never be repeated in the same way again. So if we let it slip away without enjoying it, the moment will be lost forever.
Becoming aware of ichigo ichie helps us take our foot off the gas and remember that each morning we spend in the world, every moment we spend with our children and with our loved ones is infinitely valuable and deserves our full attention.
The cultivation and practice of ichigo ichie will allow you to lead a happier, more fulfilled life, without feeling weighed down by the past or anxious about the future. You'll learn to live fully in the present, acknowledging and appreciating the gift of every moment.
Here are the 10 principles that sum up this Japanese philosophy:
- Don't postpone special moments. Each opportunity presents itself only once. If you don't embrace it, it's lost forever. Life is a question of now or never.
- Live as if this were going to happen only once in your life. That's why it's inspiring to greet and say goodbye to our loved ones with "Ichigo ichie," to make us aware of the unique and once-in-a-lifetime nature of each meeting.
- Dwell in the present. Journeys into the past and the future are often painful and nearly always useless. You can't change what happened. You can't know what will happen. But here in this moment, all the possibilities in the world are alive.
- Do something you've never done before. As Einstein said, you can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Another way of achieving an unforgettable moment is by giving yourself over and allowing something new to blossom inside you.
- Practice seated meditation. You can sit on a meditation cushion or just sit down and observe the miracle of life. The simple fact of stepping away from the daily whirlwind of hurry and obligations will open the doors to well-being.
- Apply mindfulness to your five senses. Train yourself in the art of listening, watching, touching, tasting, and smelling to give each moment the richness of human perception. This will also allow you to be more alert to others and increase your level of empathy and influence.
- Notice coincidences. Being aware of coincidences helps us get better at reading signs sent by the universe. A journal in which we keep notes of these moments of daily magic will increase our ability to follow the invisible threads of reality.
- Make every gathering a party. Don't wait for the right circumstances—a vacation, a trip, a birthday—to experience extraordinary things. With the right frame of mind, every day can be a celebration.
- If you don't like what there is, make something different. Human beings are transformative by nature and have the power to reinvent themselves as many times as it takes. If your reality is too dull and predictable to live with ichigo ichie, you have the opportunity to create another.
- Be a hunter of special moments. As with any activity, the more you practice, the better and more abundant the results will be.
Adapted from The Book of Ichigo Ichie, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.