Faith without practice lacks strength. As for zen, it is the same thing. Zen stresses practice. The 2 basic forms of zen practice are ‘zazen’ and daily activity. Here are the practicals of zen and how you can incorporate these practicals into your daily life:
Living Every Moment To the Fullest
Life is too short to worry about past mistakes and about a future that has not happen (or may not happen) yet. We remember moments in time and we only get a certain amount of those moments. Some people get more than others, but we do not know who so we need to enjoy each moment that we get.
Coming Back to Awareness
In the world we live in today, it encourages the vigorous progression of science. In general, we have increasingly become obsessed with science and technology and lost touch with our essential humanity. Zen helps to bring us back to awareness…to ourselves and to take a break from the mechanical world just for a moment. Zen practice keeps us from completely being engulfed by technology and to remember that there is more to life than just those things. So as you go about your day, remember to take some time for yourself. Put the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, tablet, and video games down and bring yourself back to awareness and return to the self even if it is for 10 minutes. Your mind and body will thank you.
Increasing Serenity and Effectiveness
The practice of ‘zazen’ in a quiet room needs to carry over into daily life. If you are hungry, eat; if you are tired, sleep. Zazen helps you to recognize what your body and mind needs and to do those things at that present moment. If you are tired you will go to sleep or if you are hungry you will go and eat. In an increasingly mechanized world, the brain often works overtime in unproductive grooves. Day-to-day pressures bring neurosis, anxiety, and various other mental and physical problems since the mind and the body are not getting the proper rest that it needs. The joy of living fades and despair closes in. For too many people today, life has gone stale. Zen maybe that very thing they need to have a fresher approach on life. To actually achieve this fresher look on life will require the courage and the mental will power to overthrow learned responses and change the way we live and think.
It does not matter what walk of life you are in, zen practice does not judge it only helps. To study zen is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body and mind of one’s self and others. Zen is the art of letting go…to not be ruled by what is hindering us today, but instead to enjoy each moment that life gives us.
The essence of zen aims to clarify the self. It is the process of living by dying…shedding egoistic delusion and finding our “natural face,” but not stopping there. We must help others to bring them back to awareness…towards an enlightenment that stems not from self-power, but from openness to all things.
Here are some activities you can do to help you to incorporate zen into your life:
1. Do That Thing You LOVE to Do
Whether it’s hiking, biking, cooking, or painting, time stands still when we whole-heartedly focus on our favorite activities. Our stream of thoughts, stories, and dramas mysteriously slip away. Immerse yourself in this and pay no attention to the background noise. Afterwards, observe your feelings and take note of them. Do you feel calmer? More relaxed? Happier?
Congratulations! You just completed a ‘power of the present moment’ meditation. It’s that easy. Do it every day if possible.
2. Nurture Yourself in Nature
Life isn’t a nutritional supplement commercial with happy people hiking all day. However, you can easily practice meditation almost anytime you step outside. As you tune into nature’s simple rhythms, sweet aroma, and observe the beautiful surroundings, your breath and thoughts slow down to match Mother Nature’s gentle march.
3. Don’t Just Wait, Meditate!
You’re meeting a friend and she’s running late…again. Instead of killing time tweeting, texting or watching YouTube, try a ‘mobile’ meditation. Yes, there is an app for that! Insert your ear buds and suddenly you are immersed in an oh-so-soothing 10 minute practice. Betcha your friend arrives just when you finish and you greet her with a warm hug instead of that “late-again” eye-roll. =^)
4. Drive Time
If stuck in traffic, this probably isn’t the time to “be one with your fellow drivers” and blissfully surrender. You need a peaceful distraction. Try a ‘mantra’ meditation set to super chill music or invent your own, (“I am patient, I will get through”) and get lost in your words as you roll down the road.
5. Pillow Talk
If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning (which I do every day), you can transform your sluggishness into a ‘sublime’ meditation. Plus you get to linger in bed a little bit longer! Lie still and observe your barely conscious thoughts. Witness the thoughts of, “I don’t wanna go to work” and turn it into “I’m noticing a struggle and I’m OK with that.”
**Bonus Points** Add an intention to your day such as a decision to accept your feelings or to bring zen meditation into those moments of your day where you are the most hectic to give yourself a break.
6. Eat Your ‘Hands Down’ Favorite Food
Walk your oh-so-spiritual self into the kitchen and scoop up a small serving of ice cream or whatever tickles your taste buds. Turn your focus on lifting this delicious little mound of happiness to your mouth. Consider the temperature, taste, and sensation as bits of your favorite ice cream or treat slowly slides down your throat. This ancient practice of mindful eating is a revered meditation ritual, as well as an awesome way to express gratitude for your bounty.
7. Yoga, Yoga, and More Yoga!
Whether you’re trying to reach your toes or perfecting your handstand, the one reason we do yoga is to reach that super end-of-class climax moment when we drop into savasana for meditation. It’s the physical poses that enables us to access that deep, still space in our mind. No matter the level or type of yoga you practice, all poses lead to the all-peaceful state of meditation.
I hope these daily activities and practicals help you to incorporate more zen meditation into your life and help others to do the same.
To incorporating zen into your life,