Our bodies need to relax, so we search for yoga and wellness retreats, vacation spots and spas, we read countless articles about wellness and relaxation without ever acting on them, all while hoping to find and achieve inner Zen. But how? A friend of mine just wrote about “Balancing your life with yoga” and she made some interesting points about how yoga and life are alike. Her three main points were:
Take the leap (of faith)
Don’t be afraid to fall
These are valuable lessons to learn in life but finding balance is only a part of finding the way to inner Zen.
What is Zen?
We always say we want to find inner Zen but what does that mean? The word Zen is ultimately derived of the Sanskrit word dhyāna which can be translated to mean “absorption” and “meditative state”. Taken a bit further, Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that goes back to the 6th century and emphasizes insight into Buddha nature and ultimately into the daily life especially those of others. While this may sound basic, if you think about it, it is a profound teaching.
How do I achieve Zen?
To achieve Zen you first have to understand it. The history and background of Zen comes with a lot of doctrine and reading into the depths of the teachings dating back ages. Zen is not something that can be put in words because the ultimate goal behind Zen is to achieve a state of enlightenment and understanding by the way we gain insight into our life and the life around us. “Our enlightenment is timeless, yet our realization of it occurs in time.” This quote simplifies and yet amplifies the message. We are always enlightened but it takes us time and steps and a conscious attempt to realize it. One of the most important things to note about achieving Zen is the fact that it cannot be done without observing oneself as well as and more importantly others. To find the good, understand the bad, grow based on your observations and find peace and understanding within life and encourage others to do the same.
How do I translate this into my life?
Mediation and breathing techniques using the lotus position are an important aspect to Zen. Meditation is used to take a step back and rediscover oneself. Think of it in terms of learning in depth who you are and taking the good you see and building on that, then taking the bad and consciously deciding against it and becoming a better person who is more aware. Breathing is important because it always you to focus on just the breaths you take, it frees your mind and relaxes your body. When you are relaxed and not bogged down with the worries of every day stresses you can concentrate on what is truly important. Peace, love and understanding. Some practitioners chant sutras such as the Heart as part of their path to enlightenment. It serves to connect with oneself.
But what if we are busy and don’t have time for all this?
Then you are like me and many others who need to find their focal point of peace and freedom. You don’t need to spend hours upon hours trying to find true enlightenment (if you can by all means go for it) but rather look at the teachings as a tool to utilize. Take time in the morning and at night even as little as 20 minutes. Find a quiet place, sit, breathe, relax, let your mind run free, observe your thoughts, explore yourself, draw strength from within you and calm thyself. As you go through your daily life, remember to observe others and practice good living. Be kind, be thoughtful, be generous and humble. Be the person that you can be happy with and the person that will influence others with a positive light. Take care of your body and soul, meditate, practice yoga and give your body healthy nutrition. Know that you will make mistakes and know that the journey to self discovery, enlightenment and Zen is a continuous one.
The art of finding inner Zen lies within the ability to find peace and purpose within anything. It requires letting go of hurt, pain and negativity and consciously choosing positivity. Then you will be at peace and find your inner Zen.
By Deanna Ayres
Deanna Ayres is the Community Outreach Supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group. She is also an avid blogger and photographer who loves to write about healthy living, yoga, life, parenting, technology and about the psychology of life as we know it. If she isn’t writing or taking pictures, she is an avid gamer who spends time volunteering with her rescue dog Vic and her family. Connect with her on twitter @deanna_ayres or Google Plus.
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