To define Zen (禅) is like trying to make a neat conceptual package that only gives a part of the picture.
Zen meditation is a practice that needs to be experienced rather than intellectualized or understood with the mind.
What Is Meditation?🧘🏾♀️
Zen meditation is tentatively defined as
a practice that helps someone to unleash his or her true self through cross-legged sitting (zazen) and to vitalize his or her self in daily life.
At the heart ❤️ of the Japanese🇯🇵 culture lies zen, which is a school of Mahayana Buddhism.
The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (Chan) which traces its roots to the Indian practice of Dhyana which means “to think”🧠 or “to meditate.”🧘🏾♀️
We are thinkers and the basic problem that all of us face is to return to the self.
The Practice of Zen
The practice of Zen meditation or zazen (座禅 – za meaning sitting, and zen meaning meditation in Japanese), is the core of Zen Buddhism.
Zazen is an attitude of spiritual awakening, which when practiced, can become the source from which all the actions of daily life flow – eating, sleeping, breathing, walking, working, and so on.
Zen Buddhism is not a theory, an idea, a piece of knowledge, a belief, a dogma, a moral teaching or religion.
It does not require one to believe in anything, but rather, it is a practical experience.
Zen meditation shows people what not to think and how to focus the mind🧠 on what to think.
In a way, zen meditation is a form of exercise for your mind.
Yes…your brain can get in a workout too. 🧠🏋🏾♀️
The best part is your brain won’t sweat…or smell.
It is wise to work out your physical body, but it is always wise to workout your mental ‘body’ too.
Simplicity of Zen
Zen is very simple…
So simple, in fact, that it’s very difficult to intellectually grasp.
That is one reason why it is called a practice.
Zen is not something to be mastered, but rather you can continually improve it.
To understand zen, is by entering the silence of the dojo or a temple, quietly sitting down, not moving, and letting your thoughts go.
Focus on your zazen posture and your breathing.
Keep your back straight.
Let your ego and your unconscious mind melt away and merge with the universe…
This is Zen.
Practicals of Zen Meditation🧘🏾♀️
I love this quote…
Faith without practice lacks strength.
As for zen, it is the same thing.
Zen meditation stresses practice.
The 2 basic forms of zen practice are ‘zazen’ and daily activity.
Let’s look at some practicals of zen and how you can incorporate these practicals into your daily life.
1. Live Every Moment To the Fullest
Life is too short to worry about past mistakes and about a future that has 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 the ones you get, you should try to enjoy.
Check out my blog post on how to live in the present and ways to do so.
2. 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.
This 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.
Even is it is for 10 minutes.
Your mind and body will thank you.
3. Increase Serenity and Effectiveness
Try to carry over the practice of ‘zazen’ into your daily life
If you are hungry, eat.😋
If you are tired, sleep.😴
Zazen helps you to recognize what your mind and body needs and to do those things at that present moment.
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.
This happens because 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 may be that very thing they need to have a fresher approach on life.
To actually achieve this fresher look on life, it will require the courage and the mental willpower 🧠to overthrow learned responses and change the way you live and think.
What Is Meditation Used For? 🧘🏾♀️
It does not matter what walk of life you are in, meditation does not judge, it only helps.
To study zen is to study the self and to study the self is to forget the self.
Meditation is the art of letting go.🧘🏾♀️
To not be ruled by what is hindering you today, but instead to enjoy each moment that life gives you.
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.
Collectively, we must help others to bring them back to awareness as well.
Towards enlightenment that stems not from self-power, but from openness to all things.
One of my favorite ways to meditate is through guided meditation.
Check out my FREE guided meditation series you can download HERE!
For even more ways to let go of fear and live a life where you actually achieve your goals, check out my YouTube video below!👇🏾
How Long Should A Beginner Meditate?🧘🏾♀️
There is no right or wrong answer to this question.
You can meditate for as long or as short as you want.
It is recommended (especially as a beginner) to meditate for at least 10 minutes each day.
Meditation (when performing properly) allows you to calm your body, mind, and spirit.
This would be hard to accomplish in 2 minutes(it could happen though).
To start you off on the right foot with meditating, check out my ‘Relaxation Products’ page and scroll down to ‘Zen Sounds’.
You will see my FREE guided meditation download.
To be able to help others incorporate more Zen meditation into their life, here are some different activities you can do to incorporate it into your life first.
1. Do The Things You Love To Do ❤️
Whether it’s hiking,⛰ biking,🚴🏾♀️ cooking,👩🏾🍳 or painting,🎨 time stands still when you are whole-heartedly focused on your favorite activities.
Your negative thoughts will begin to mysteriously slip away and you are filled with all kinds of joy and happiness.
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?
You just completed a ‘power of the present moment’ meditation.
It’s that easy!
Try to do that every day if possible.
When I perform this kind of meditation, I utilize different activities I love doing such as yoga,🧘🏾♀️ playing volleyball, 🏐learning Japanese,👘 rock climbing,🧗🏾♀️ and snowboarding.🏂
2. Nurture Yourself With 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 beautiful surroundings, your breath and thoughts slow down to match 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.📱🧘🏾♀️
Insert your earbuds 🎧 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. 😊
To find some more ways to relax, check out my recommended ‘Relaxation Products’ page.
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, la la la”) 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.
This meditation will allow you to linger in bed a little bit longer which is great!
To perform this meditation, 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.”
Add an intention to your day.
This could be anything from a decision to accept your feelings or to bring zen meditation into those hectic moments of your day.
Allow yourself to have a break.
6. Eat Your Favorite Foods 🍏🥗🌯🍟🥘🍱🍕
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.
It is also an awesome way to express gratitude for your bountiful treat!
7. Yoga, Yoga, and More Yoga!🧘🏾♀️
Whether you’re trying to reach your toes or perfect your handstand, the one reason I 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 enable you to access that deep, still space in your mind.
No matter the level or type of yoga you practice, all poses lead to this peaceful state of mind.
My favorite kind of yoga is Power Yoga.
This type of yoga is usually performed in a heated room.
The yoga instructor would go around the room at various times and help you with your posture and help you stay motivated and positive throughout the whole class.
If you are interested in starting your own yoga practice, take a look at my blog post called ‘The Yoga Accessories You Need’ to get started.
5 Common Meditation Mistakes Beginners Make🧘🏾♀️
As with any new journey, the feelings of excitement and exhilaration begin to flood your whole being.
When you start your meditation journey, realize that there will be times of frustration.
Unfortunately, meditation isn’t as easy as it sounds.
It takes time, practice and patience, patience and more patience.
There are some common mistakes that many people make during the early stages of their meditation practice.
Here are the 5 most common ones:
1. It is Hard To Focus
In the beginning of your meditation journey, 🧘🏾♀️you may have high expectations that meditation will magically transform your life and it will do so immediately.
Once again, this is not the case…
Meditation takes focus and it takes time to build up that focus.
When you find your mind constantly wandering and you are unable to sit still and focus on your breathing, 🌬 you will need to be able to bring yourself back to your breath each time this happens.
The best way to do this is by being consistent.
Try to meditate for at least 5-10 minutes a day and learn how to gently bring yourself back to your breath when your mind begins to wander.
You can also try picking a focal point in the center of the room or even try closing your eyes.👀
This can help too.
Another thing you can try is listening and concentrating on your breath.
2. Thinking Too Much🧠
If you are thinking too much about not thinking too much, then you will be hurting yourself in the end.
We Are Thinkers.
Trying to stop ourselves from doing something that we do naturally like breathing is only going to cause problems later on especially when it comes to meditating.
One of the best ways to help with this problem is by letting the thoughts come.
Try not to give them any energy.
What I mean by this is, try not to focus on the fact that those thoughts are there.
Don’t even acknowledge them and they will eventually drift away.
If you are finding yourself straining your muscles to try to “clear your mind” then you are doing too much!
In the voice of my friends…”You are doing the most.”
Instead, start with a slow progression of deep breaths and by tensing and releasing various parts of your body.
Too much effort can strain your results when it comes to meditation.
Too Many Distractions
If you are not located in a quiet space during your meditation practice, chances are you will become distracted faster than you can realize that you are distracted.
It is very important (if you can) to find a quiet place where you can practice meditation.
If this is not possible, you can also look into noise canceling headphones.🎧
While we are at it, make sure whatever you are sitting on is comfortable and allows you to sit upright so you can have good posture.
You do not want to be slouching down or hunched over while you are meditating.
Disregarding Your Commitment
Usually, when you first start out, you may not see the immediate results that you were anticipating.
This can make it easy to disregard your commitment and just quit altogether.
Try to stick to your practice even if that means grabbing a friend or family member to hold you accountable.
If you give up too soon, you will NEVER reap the amazing benefits that meditation has to offer you.
Difficulty With The Breathing Rhythm 🌬
With many beginners to meditation,🧘🏾♀️ they may breathe too deeply in or out too rapidly.
Getting the breathing rhythm down can take some time and once again, practice.
Just keep trying until it becomes natural.
Breathing in long, slow, deeply, and fully and exhaling out slowly and completely is truly a new way to breath. 🌬
It is a way that your body will not be familiar with and that is okay!
You may be more familiar with short breaths in and out.
The more you practice meditating the more you will get into the rhythm of deep breathing. 🌬
To Wrap Things Up…
Meditation is the art of letting go of those thoughts and feelings that bring negativity into your life.
This is a practice…not something to be mastered.
The best way to begin incorporating meditation into your daily life is by just focusing on your breath. 🌬
When you are hurried and rushed are you noticing your breath become shorter or more shallow?
If so, try to focus on each breath, 🌬breathing in through your nose 👃🏾and out through your mouth. 👄
Notice if your stomach expands and collapses or if your chest is just moving up and down.
Be intentional with your meditation practice.🧘🏾♀️
You will have your goods days and your bad, but in the end, it will all be worth it.
I hope these daily activities and practicals help you to incorporate more meditation into your life.
Did you know that meditation can help you let go of the past and live in the present?
There are more ways to do this as well and you can check that out by watching my YouTube video below!👇🏾
To your new found peace,
P.S.- If you enjoyed this post on Zen Meditation…The Art of Letting Go, remember to like, share, and comment below.