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What does “Zen” mean to you?

I had this great thought to write about Zen, and what it means to me, and to find out what it means to others. But … writing about “being Zen” in a moment when there is anything but Zen around me blocked me quite a bit I have to admit. 

And instead of starting to write I went for a run. It wasn’t a pleasant run, no. But on a plus, I was active and it did bring me some much-needed headspace to reflect on what Zen actually means to me. Even better – the run made it clear that this is one of the best times to tackle this topic. It will help me to get my own zen back into life!

And like with a lot of things we all seek out what fits us individually, to our way of living. Of course, you can go very deep and into the Zen Buddhism (which I find rather fascination and admiring). But this is not for everybody. And I find it’s ok to look at certain parts only if they speak to you. Often Zen is seen as meditation only, too. But to me, there is so much to learn from and about it! 

Zen by definition in the urban dictionary means “One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.” And the Cambridge Dictionary states that it’s “a form of Buddhism, originally developed in Japan, that emphasizes that religious knowledge is achieved through emptying the mind of thoughts and giving attention to only one thing, rather than by reading religious writings: Zen Buddhism” 

I personally relate more to the first rather than the later. I love the “togetherness of body and mind”. But I like the “giving attention to only one thing”, too. After all, we often do and are occupied with too many things at the same time, especially in our head.

The term Zen itself though “is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (Chán), which traces its roots to the Indian practice of dhyāna (“meditation”). (Wikipedia)

When I started to think about this blog I sat down with my pen and paper and wrote down all that came to my mind when thinking about Zen. And words like *peaceful *calm *being within *centred *finding ease *being with the “what if” *grounded *nature *cope with stress *connected *supporting *meditating *mindful *breathe *(simply) be *being in the moment *balance…

All these words bring some calmness, yes tranquillity to the moment, to life. It’s a lot about feelings and emotions for me. And while I might have a wishful-thinking that my life would always be like this, I know it’s delusional. Peaceful and calm while having three kids, living abroad and moving around every few years?! Yeah, I want to see that happening, hehe. 

But oh yes, how I treasure the times when they are like that, peaceful and calm I mean. But that’s not what this is about, is it? After all, it’s not about the situation, it’s not about what’s around me no it’s about my own mind!

I can find myself in a zen-like situation, for example walking through a quiet temple ground, but if my mind keeps spinning, that moment will be lost. Then again, if I’m calm and centred in my mind, even the most chaotic situation can bring this zen-like feeling. 

The other points that I connect to Zen play a big part in my day-to-day life. Those are feelings, thoughts and behaviours I strive for and try to live by. It’s not always easy, no not at all and not everybody will relate. To me, this is about being aware of what it means (to me); what I can do in my life to achieve this feeling. And to notice when I step too far away from it. And to make sure I (“quickly-ish”) find my way back. But it’s as well a lot about bringing some calmness to those around me.

At least that’s what “being zen” means to me. 

Today, going for a run brought me back to such a moment. A calmer mind and a more grounded and centred me. On other days a meditation, creating a deeper connection with others can create the same feeling. And then again there are moments when all I can do is to sit with the “what if”, to not change anything but to simply (or not so simply) be. 

zen ducks
zen ducks

And coming back to my run…those ducks looked pretty zen to me. They made me smile and brought me back to just be!

How about you, what comes to your mind when you think about “being zen”?

Have a peaceful day, 

AK 

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