In the year 2014, humanity finds itself still struggling to get rid of the lifestyle it has created and imposed on its members. A fast paced life ridden with immorality, a life of “faster and bigger”, of “more and never enough” tends to swallow us up. It engulfs us in a constant state of misery, despair, stress and anxiety.
Our reality has turned into a big, dark forest and we wander around inside of it lost, unable to find a way out, until we give up and give in and call it our life. But even though we might be stuck inside the forest, that does not mean that we have to live our lives that way. The materials are available for us to make a change; all it takes to turn all this around is to know how and to have the will to do so.
Chinese monks and the theory of “calm”.
The theory of Zen, is exactly that: a theory of our energies that promotes peace of mind and body. The first school of Zen, named Ts’ao-tung and later Soto Zen, soon spread from China to East Japan, becoming popular in every place in between.
From all the schools of Zen that blossomed, only two survived the might of time: the first school of Zen – Ts’ao-tung, otherwise known as the Soto Zen School – and the school of Rinzai Zen. These two schools and their teachings on how to live a simpler, happier life are now more popular than ever, and are being adopted more in western cultures as well.
Why would I want to live like a Chinese monk?!
You would not, and you don’t. Frankly, none of us would want to live like Chinese monks, as it would be something that would have a major affect our religion and our spirituality.
However, their lives can be an inspiration that can result in bettering ours. I have never met anyone who does not need more peace of mind, relaxation, focus and positive energy in his or her life. The lives we lead are far from that and, quite frankly, they rarely ever provide us with a feeling of self-completion.
But I have heard that these theories are complicated and hard to live by
I am sure you have received all sorts of different information. I am sure you have heard that meditating is difficult and time consuming and that Zen living is nothing more than moving furniture around trying to create better energy flows. And the latter is actually true, this is part of Zen living, but not one you necessarily need. Today, we will take a look into those little tasks you can easily adopt from the Zen teachings to help improve yourself and your life.
Just like Shunryu Suzuki said: “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”
The steps to achieving Zen happiness
Take your sweet little time! It is time you stopped rushing everything. And it is high time that you stopped rushing life itself. Time will pass either way so make sure that it passes meaningfully. So, every time you have to do something, focus on that project completely and do it with purpose while you acquire the most you can from the experience of doing it.
Do not take on more than you can handle. As Zen has taught us, this is the proverbial, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Everything you have to do, do it with focus and intent. Quite often we try to do more than one thing at a time so we can fit everything into our tight schedules. This results in increasing stress and never fully concentrating on anything. Stop multitasking. Start focusing.
Stop leaving things unfinished. I know that modern life is so fast-paced that quite often we have to begin projects and leave them unfinished because new ones come up of higher importance. But what happens to the energy we had put into them when we began doing them? What happens to the feeling of completion that we would get from reaching that goal? It completely goes to waste. Make sure you finish everything you start so you can move to the next task with the same, and possibly even more, energy.
Plan and don’t overwhelm yourself. Now, before you consider this tip an excuse to be lazy, let me clarify. Your life should not be a lazy one; however, it should not be a life of endless “doing”, either. You should have a list of things that you can and want to accomplish every day. In order for you to be able to carry those things out in the ways mentioned above, this list needs to be just enough. You don’t need a pile of tasks you will randomly and mediocrely do just to get to the end of it. You will never truly finish and you will have to come back to that list repeatedly, which will only increase anxiety and add to your already stressful schedule.
Make sure your schedule is scheduled properly. This tip is more of an addition to the one before it. When you schedule your day, whether it is business meetings or simply getting the kids off to school and starting to do housework, you need to make sure the activities have enough time between them to be completed fully. Leave time gaps that are adequate. Also, always make sure that there is time for relaxation in between to clear your mind. It does not matter if it is five minutes or just one minute to have a glass of water, this little free time is essential!
Always find time for relaxation. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough! Regardless of how busy your life is, you need to devote at least 15 minutes of the day to relaxing. You must make time to sit, lie down, or do anything that does not really constitute as “doing something”. This is in order to de-clutter your mind and to let go of the negativity and stress of the day.
Live a simple and rewarding life. I am not exactly sure whether this is a tip or more of a philosophy. To achieve a more Zen-like lifestyle you need to clear all the things that are not essential to your very being out of your life. These differ from person to person and from life to life. Just make sure that when you are done, you have created more room for meaningful and valuable experiences. Practice clearing out your soul as well. Be more giving, kind and forgiving. Talk less and listen more. Overall, turn to experiences of meaning and substance instead of actions that enslave you in anger or stress.
So there you have them! Seven easy steps to a better life. Zen shows us the way. Your path to happiness and peace might not be short but it will be worth it. When you have finally arrived, a life of bliss and euphoria will be waiting for you to simply live it!
If you enjoyed reading about Every Now and Zen Do These 6 Things to Calm the Storm. , remember this is just one of many ways to ‘bend’ reality, tap into powers beyond your conscious existence… and connect with your infinite self.