I’ve been practicing zen for about ten years but seriously for four. I say seriously because prior to four years ago I had never practiced in a formal enviornent under a master. Since then however it’s become an everyday thing for me as I know exactly what I’m doing now. Gone are the thought’s of “Am I doing this right?”. Nowaday’s I wake up, eat my breakfast, and meditate. Sometimes not in that order.
It’s become an intergral part of my life because it helps me deal with the bullshit: stress, anxiety, dickheads, etc.
Anything I do post-meditation is always better than anything I do pre-meditation. Rather it be playing League of Legends, sparring at 302 Jiu Jitsu, or having a conversation with a stranger: I’m better at it.
Now you might think it’s just me but nah. Two of the greatest coaches to ever come out of a woman’s vagina were both Zen practioners. Cus D’manto the great boxing coach of the 20th century who created two heavy weight champs in Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson and mentored three counting Muhammad Ali. As well as Phil Jackson the man known for having 11 NBA championship rings with the Bulls and the Lakers coaching the great Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. I almost forgot to mention Steve Jobs. The founder of the first company ever to make a trillion dollars: Apple. I really feel like that’s enough said on the men I respect and there links to Zen. Back to the practice.
Zen is rooted in the practice of Zazen (sitting meditation). It has no holy texts or scriptures and isn’t a religion. It’s a practice. A practice of stillness. A practice in watching your thoughts. A practice in understanding yourself and the world around you. It’s links to Buddhism are in the how the Buddha came to enlightment. The act of sitting in the Zazen posture, see below.
For me the benefits have come the most through my relationships. By developing control over the flow of my thoughts and where my attention is placed I’ve learned how to avoid a lot of suffering. I also like to believe that my emotional intelligence has increased as well. If I had a guess it would be that by learning to slow down and pay attention to what’s going on around it increases the likely-hood of having a quality interpretation of another person’s body language.
Shunryu Suzuki the man who brought Zen to the west, placed a deep emphasis on the cultivation of beginners mind. The idea behind beginners mind is to approach the world from the point of view where in each moment it feels like you’re experiencing it for the first time. At least that’s the best interpretation that my mind was able to turn up. It’s so that you become more likely to stay engaged in what’s going on in the here and now instead of the past or present. Both figments of the imagination as the only time that ever existed was now.
Zen is also the study of duality: Big Mind and Small Mind namely. Big Mind encompasses the objective point of view while Small Mind takes the subjective. The ability for us to understand that we’re both a part of a giant macrocosmic universe, and that each of one is connected at the core of our very being, while also being completely immersed in the subjective human experience.
Now I’m not saying Zen meditation is the end all be all but it’s definetely an excellent life hack that will increase your productivity and overall happiness. I’ll provide a link to my favorite Zen website and Shunryu Suzuki’s book.