Across the globe, several people are fully at peace with themselves despite the global rat race and are living their everyday life harmoniously.
No, this isn’t about highly-trained Buddhist monks who have dedicated their lives to spirituality. It’s about regular people like you and I who have mastered the principles of discipline, harmony, and Zen, and are using it in their everyday lives.
Achieving a Zen state of mind doesn’t call for a complete overhaul of your life and career. Instead, it gently encourages you to slow down and find calm amidst the chaos without letting any of your physical pleasures go.
A Zen state of mind allows you to fully enjoy that hot cup of coffee, that tear-jerker of a book, that stolen moment of peace during a busy day. According to Alan Watts, in his book The Way of Zen, you shouldn’t stop at feeling happy– try to feel yourself feeling happy.
Wondering how you can reach that stage? Well, here are a few tips that can help you achieve a Zen state of mind this year:
1. Remove physical clutter…
Just like you need a clean page to start writing anything, you need a clear mind (and a clear space) to achieve a Zen state of mind. Start by ridding your desk and room of items you don’t need. Consider taking a good hard look at your daily schedule and remove tasks or activities that don’t add any meaning to your life (like mindless scrolling on social media). Eliminate clutter from your bank statement by cancelling unnecessary subscriptions and pull the same trick on your emails by unsubscribing from newsletters.
2. Then remove mental clutter…
Removing mental clutter isn’t as easy as clearing your desk of waste paper. We often underestimate just how many mental stimuli we’re bombarded with every day, from sights and sounds to people and situations. To begin achieving a Zen state of mind, you need to start clearing mental clutter. Gently disassociate from people who willfully bring you down, limit the time you give to indulging in gossip, and observe negative thoughts but don’t let them stay.
3. Think before you act
Sure, this sounds like something your mother would lecture you about, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Thought before action is intrinsic to Zen principles because it allows you to evaluate a situation and your primeval reactions to that situation before actually reacting or saying something. By not getting caught up in the tumult of an argument, you can contribute positively, with well-thought-out opinions. You get to decide for yourself how you want to react.
4. Take a break
As much as it may seem like it, taking a 10-minute break away from your desk isn’t going to reflect poorly on you. Step outside, give yourself a minute or two for deep, refreshing breaths. Look away from your screen and close your eyes. Meditate, or don’t–the point of taking a break is to have a few moments to yourself without anything commanding your attention other than the fact that you’re alive and present in the moment.
The final word
Imagine every day of your life playing out as a movie. At what point do you find yourself wanting to hit ‘pause’ or ‘slow motion’? Is it when that first sip of your hot cuppa hits you? Or when you’re so immersed in your tasks that time comes to a standstill?
Do it. Hit pause.