Poker Like A Rockstar … The Moment Khash

Antonio Esfandiari

Free your mind and the cash will follow

We are prisoners of our own minds. Don’t believe me, try a simple thought experiment: Shut-off your brain. Just for a few moments. No discursive thoughts please …

How did that turn-out? Unless you are some kind of mindful Jedi-master, chances are that you can’t. I can’t. For most, stopping the mind is akin speeding 120 mph in a Porsche 911 Turbo, slamming into the car in front of you, and trying to catch yourself from flying through the windshield by just holding onto the steering wheel. It’s as if our minds were hard-coded to warp-speed through life in constant thought-motion; our focus and energy residing mostly in two time periods: future and past.

Recently though, I have started dabbling with the practice of meditation, embarking on the long quest of building up my awareness. As a result, I have begun to appreciate the power of the elusive present moment. By paying attention to the present moment, I am in the early stages of surveying the landscape of my life and getting my bearings. Yes, all this from something seemingly as “invisible” as THIS exact moment. What are you doing? Are you reading this magazine during or in-between poker games? Are you stuck? Are you up? How do you FEEL right now?

Want to hear something I learned that will completely transform your life: You are completely free. You are not at the whim of your moods, your hangups — you have complete control over ALL your feelings. You see, at the deepest level, all events are neutral. “Good” and “bad” only come into play once you start judging, start translating, an event. If you could somehow tweak this seemingly hard-coded faculty of judgment, if possible, perhaps you could alter the way in which you experience life and tune it into a more blissful channel. For example, if something bad happens or something annoys you, like taking a serious beat at the poker table or if your significant other is pushing your buttons again, you have a whole bunch of options: you can try to aggressively handle it, you can try to resist it, you can dwell on it, or you can accept it, take responsibility and, like Paul McCartney says “Let it be,” move on, and remove toxic aftershock energy of a negatively judged experience out of your circulatory system and clear the air of your mind.

This last way of doing things is the best. You know the undesired alternative. I do. When I spectacularly busted the One Drop this past year after holding the chip lead all the way until the last day, I just couldn’t shake it off no matter how hard I tried. Parallel “What If” realities flooded my mind. Too bad those alternative fantasy realities were destroying the only real reality: THIS reality. I was sadistically destroying the present moment.

You see, like the Cosmos, the present moment is the only thing that is and the only thing that ever will be. We are always swimming in it. Even when you are daydreaming a fantasy world or stuck in the past memory, you are borrowing from the precious fuel of your present moment in order to do so. And you’ll notice, the more you borrow, the more tension-like a relationship you have with that moment, the more “ways things should be” seem to frustrate and define your modus operandi. The more you are in this warped mindset, the more you miss-out on the blissful eternal present moment right there in front of our eyes.

I am no expert, but I can tell you how meditation has helped me become more objective, extending this mindful sanctuary of rational blissfulness into critical moments in my life. I am able to surrender to what IS more successful the more I build my awareness through meditation. Don’t get me wrong, there are some patterned reactions of mine that humble me, making me feel like I am learning how to surf in a hurricane. But there are other moments where I am able to take the toxic energy of the moment and sublimate it into the being awake. Strangely, surrendering to the moment, to the situation, leads you to dispassionately take the best of all actions. In a billionth of a second, you can somehow voluntarily change your course of action and, as a result, can non-robotically take control and shift your reality in ways you never dreamed of doing. In one swift mental movement, you both give up control and take control of your life. That’s powerful.

I am no expert in how to approach life. I can only speak from my personal experiences. Imagine a situation where you could live each day twice. Let’s take today for example. You lived it. Whatever your experiences were, you have in your mind going into your sleep. So — now imagine that tomorrow you had an opportunity to live today all over again. THE SAME exact day. Only this time you knew exactly what would happen before it happened. Good or bad. It would always be the same day. Now — can you imagine any situation where day two would not be better lived than day one? You already know what’s going to happen so WHY NOT surrender to what is?! Clearly we would all have an AMAZING day two. No? How could you not???

May the force be with you.

January 2015