While Zen teachings first arrived through Japanese Buddhism, they aren’t a religion. Rather, they are a system of attitudes and practices that lead to a healthier outlook. While the word itself translates roughly as “meditation,” it refers to living every moment as a meditative act in full awareness. Want more calm, peace, connection and fulfillment? Add these practices to your daily life:
1. Breathe. Anytime you are feeling harried, rushed, irritated or annoyed, take a few minutes to breath deeply. This grounds you and helps your body calm itself.
2. Don’t rehearse for confrontations. Do you ever find yourself thinking about the conversation you’re going to have tonight about who didn’t do the dishes or who overspent? While these discussions are likely necessary, fretting over them in advance is not. Do not let worry steal pleasure from the moment you are in.
3. Let go of regrets. You can spend a lifetime replaying situations large and small, making yourself crazy over what you should have done differently. But, this cannot change anything from the past. Release these feelings so that they do not poison the moments you are enjoying now.
4. Let go of resentments. If someone has wronged you, why give them your present happiness as well as your past? When we forgive, it is an act of compassion for ourselves as much as it is for those who hurt us.
5. Find the pleasure in the moment. Even a chore you dislike can offer some positive to focus on. When we concentrate fully on what we are doing, even an action like washing the dishes or folding clothes can become peaceful and meditative.
6. Do one thing at a time. Modern life tempts us to multi-task, never paying full attention to any one thing that we do. For a more peaceful
7. Say no to some things. Endless lists of tasks means that you are not able to do anything as well as you could. Your mind is always on the next hurdle. Instead, do fewer things, but do them with your whole mind present.
8. Devote some time to simply sitting still. Call it meditation or call it simply resting. The key is to be fully present in that moment, not daydreaming, worrying about bills or fretting over things that you cannot control.
9. Do things to serve others. When you are devoted to others’ enjoyment and comfort, this teaches you humility. Studies show that kindness and compassion are as rewarding for the giver as the recipient.
10. Make room for ritual in your life. This doesn’t have to be anything overtly religious or spiritual. It can be as simple as relaxing with an afternoon cup of tea. The meaningful repetition gives shape to your days and makes it to let your life fall into a pleasant rhythm.
Small changes can yield large benefits. By changing your attitude about some of the things that stress you and eliminating others, you will find that you are happier and more peaceful.