10 Quick Examples of Zen Living

Exam­ples of Zen Liv­ing — here’s how to sim­pli­fy your life and way of being

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1. One thing at a time

Just have a breath and focus

Mul­ti­task­ing is impos­si­ble. Watch your­self when you attempt it. What you are actu­al­ly doing is turn­ing your atten­tion from one thing to anoth­er, to anoth­er, rapid­ly. And, because chang­ing your focus takes ener­gy, noth­ing gets your full attention.

Exper­i­ment: watch your favourite tv show and have a con­ver­sa­tion at the same time. See? Problems!!!

Zen liv­ing: Do one thing at a time. Full focus, to a pre-deter­mined point of com­ple­tion. Big projects require that you break them into bite-sized pieces, and fin­ish a seg­ment. Then shift atten­tion. For most things, ‘chop wood, car­ry water.’ Do the task at hand with full attention.

2. Speak for yourself

Prefer­ably quietly!

The only authen­tic pro­noun is ‘I.’ All I can reli­ably talk about is what I am think­ing, feel­ing, and doing.

Exam­ple: think about some­thing you might con­sid­er a ‘we’ thing. “We’re going to play ball.” Well, maybe a bunch of peo­ple are each, indi­vid­u­al­ly, play­ing ball, but there is no ‘we,’ period. 

Nor can you say any­thing reli­ably about anoth­er per­son. “I know what you are think­ing,” is impos­si­ble. I only, at best, am aware that I think I know what you are thinking.

Zen liv­ing: Speak only for your­self, by using “I think…”, “imag­ine…”, “The sto­ry I’m telling myself…”, etc. Own your expe­ri­ence, and share it, as it’s all you can ever know.

For more hints on how to have an excel­lent rela­tion­ship, read this arti­cle!

3. Choose

I want em up… no… down!

You may be able to play around in your head, and come up with mil­lions of options, but (see point 1) you can nev­er enact more than one thing at once. Thus, cre­at­ing a mil­lion options is enact­ing a sin­gle thing - the act of imag­in­ing many options. There­fore, choos­ing to think of options as opposed to pick­ing one and doing it is a choice.

Exper­i­ment: See if you can find any­thing you do (think, feel, inter­pret, etc.) that you are not freely choos­ing. Once you get this, you’ll quick­ly stop mess­ing with your­self, and ‘sim­ply choose.’

Zen liv­ing: choose one thing, com­mit to it, and see it through. If you do not like the result (this is impor­tant!) choose some­thing else, and try that. Stop doing what does not work!

4. Be grateful

Because you’re nev­er in over your head…

Every­thing is One, and every­thing is con­nect­edNoth­ing exists as a sin­gu­lar­i­ty, on its own, apart from some­thing else, and every­thing comes from some­thing else.

Exper­i­ment: Think about the stuff around you, and see con­nec­tions. For exam­ple, I’m present­ly eat­ing a sal­ad with tuna fish. Apart from Dar, who made the sal­ad for me, imag­ine the count­less peo­ple involved in mak­ing that sal­ad pos­si­ble — farm­ers, fish­ers, pack­ers, pick­ers, etc.

Zen liv­ing: Be grate­ful. You wouldn’t last long if not for the peo­ple and ‘stuff’ that sur­rounds you — the air, water, land, etc. Call this to mind as you engage with the stuff of life, say ‘thanks,’ and real­ly mean it.
Exam­ples of Zen Liv­ing come in all flavours!

5. No duality

10 Quick Examples of Zen Living
There’s only me.

Of course, stuff hap­pens that we know ought not to hap­pen. It is a real, and crazy world out there. That being said, labels are inher­ent­ly use­less. No good, no bad, no right, no wrong. It’s all ‘as it is.’ What is, is, and what is required is not a lec­ture but an action.

Exper­i­ment: This is an exer­cise in con­scious­ness. If you are attract­ed to some­thing, move for­ward and embrace it. Try it out, and see what hap­pens. If repelled, move away, and act force­ful­ly against it.

Zen liv­ing: No dual­i­ty. Know that judg­ing is some­thing you’ll do until you die, but you can notice and stop your mind for a moment, and then act in keep­ing with your feel­ings, inter­pre­ta­tions, and inten­tions. Most say, “Isn’t it awful” and do noth­ing. Instead, say, “It is what it is,” act, and move on.

6. Detach

No sense being caught in your imagination

Attach­ments are sil­ly, and based upon the idea that I can grasp some­one or some­thing, and by the act of grasp­ing, keep it the same, or ‘just keep it.’ 

A friend wrote: “I don’t want the fan­ta­sy to end!” Guess what: it already has end­ed, and had to end, because noth­ing is sta­t­ic — all is in motion — all is change.

Exper­i­ment: Cre­ate a list of all of the things, by force of will, that you have kept ‘exact­ly the same.’ Is a list a list if there are no items on it?

Zen liv­ing: Detach. Let go. Hold loose­ly. When you attempt to grasp some­one or some thing, you are actu­al­ly try­ing to hold on to, and freeze, the past. To do this requires that you exit the moment, and go into your head, and play with mem­o­ries. Mem­o­ries aren’t real. Real is here and now.

7. Pay attention

pissed off
If only so you don’t look like this

Be Here Now. It’s the only way to actu­al­ly have a life. Moon­ing over the past or liv­ing in the future “…then I’ll be hap­py…” is a sure fire way to get into trou­ble. You snooze, you lose.

Exper­i­ment: In Zen monas­ter­ies, a bell is rung at irreg­u­lar inter­vals.

The monks stop, and con­tem­plate their lev­el of ‘pres­ence’ when the bell rang. Find a way to do the same — per­haps set a timer, and see where your atten­tion was when it goes off.

Zen liv­ing: Pay atten­tion. As you find your­self drift­ing off into thoughts and plans, plots and dreams, have a breath and bring your­self back to now. Inter­est­ing, real stuff is hap­pen­ing, and can only be appre­ci­at­ed by bring­ing your­self into the This End­less Moment. And what does it say about you if your fan­ta­sy life is more char­gy and fun than your ‘real life?’

8. Make contact

It’s as sim­ple as asking

Being present by def­i­n­i­tion is a reach­ing out and embrac­ing of life, and then a let­ting go. In this way, my hands are emp­ty and pre­pared for the next embrace.

Think: Most peo­ple live in an invis­i­ble bub­ble, designed to keep ‘bad stuff’ out and ‘good stuff’ my pri­vate prop­er­ty. Yet, it is only when I let down my ‘shields’ that I can inter­act with the moment.

Zen liv­ing: Make con­tact as you imbibe life. Take it in, touch it, caress it, set it free. Be pas­sion­ate about your engage­ment with what you encounter, nev­er waver­ing in your ‘present moment’ focus.

Keep going for more exam­ples fo Zen living.

9. Don’t do it, be it

What­ev­er it is, do and be it!

Zen liv­ing and being is not a game of, “look at my new skill set!” One guy couldn’t fig­ure out how to make time to med­i­tate. I sug­gest­ed he think of his entire life as med­i­ta­tion. Dif­fer­ent focus, dif­fer­ent direction.

Zen liv­ing: Don’t do it, be it. Live life as an action that encom­pass­es your being or essence. This is tricky to lan­guage, but it’s about a full, pur­pose­ful com­mit­ment to a way of being that includes thought, feel­ing and action. Take the oth­er 9 points and see them as focus­ing points as to what such being might look like, as you enact your­self in the here and now.

10. Celebrate

Dance it out!

Indeed, you are unique, just like every­one else. Your unique­ness is con­tained in the gifts you pos­sess and your will­ing­ness to emp­ty your­self as you share ‘your song.’ Most are so fear­ful of being laughed at that they hold their unique song in. How sad.

Zen liv­ing: Cel­e­brate. Dance in the rain, sing your soul, shout your art, be your being. You are the only ‘you’ that will ever exist on this plan­et. Be your­self, and see with clear eyes. Your smile will set the world aflame.

Look­ing for more on this top­ic? Check out my book, Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall.

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