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.
It is a way of self-discovery and living from moment to moment, which is practiced while sitting on a meditation cushion.
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 you mental one 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.
The Goal of Meditation 🧘🏾♀️
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 an enlightenment that stems not from self-power, but from openness to all things.
To be able to help others incorporate more zen meditation into their life, here are different activities you can do to incorporate it into yours 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. 😊
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.
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.
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.
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.