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WHAT IS ZEN

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Urban dictionary

zen

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.

"Sun is warm, grass is green."

by justanotherperson July 27, 2005

Zen

The belief of no faith began its existence with Buddhism, the "father" of Zen. Buddhism began with
a prince named Siddhartha (Vetanen 1). Siddhartha was born close to five hundred B.C. (Vetanen 1).
After having lived twenty-nine years and experiencing life in the world, the soon-to-be-
enlightened one left his childand martial partner in order to dedicate the rest of his life towards
becoming enlightened (Vetanen 1). At the age of thirty-five, Siddhartha attained Enlightenment
under the fabled Bo tree and became Buddha, or "The Enlightened One" (Vetanen 1). Although
Buddhas body died later, his spirit lived on and went into the next person that needs
a soul (i.e. people that are being conceived. Many Zen thinkers say that Zen was initiated once
Buddha achieved Enlightenment (Watts 24). Other Zen masters think of Bodidharma as the
"founder" of the most popular Japanese form of Buddhism (Watts 24). Bodidharmas name means
"lawof wisdom" (Keiji 10). The first Zen Buddhist was the leader of a Buddhist sect that later became
Zen around 470 A.D. (Vetanen 1). Although there is doubt as to who officially began Zen,
the definition of Zen remains the same.

The closest translation for Zen is contemplation (Watts 22). This conversion is not the most accurate
of versions, as the most accurate version for Zen is Enlightenment and its methods of achievement
(Watts 24). Zen was once called Chan (Vetanen 1). Chan is a belief of impermanence, meaning that
those who practice Zen do not value their earthly possessions as much as one who does not have
this belief of impermanence (Walter 1). Zen masters use language to make their difficult to
understand (Keiji 11). For this reason and others, Zen is difficult to understand. Zen can be defined
as a sect of Buddhists that is more lenient than other sects (Ross 139). Followers of Zen believe
in Karma. Karma is thought of as natures "cause and effect" system (Aitken 2). However Zen is
defined, one must learn the spiritual meaning of Zen without aid through meditation (Vetanen 2).

The spiritual meaning of Zen must be interpreted individually because it is not a simple answer to a
question, and cannot be answered by any Zen master (Vetanen 2). It is difficult to comprehend Zen
because those who are not enlightened have minds that make Zens meaning out to be much more
difficult to understand than the true simplicity of the belief (Watts 52). "With our eyes on the
horizon, we do not see what lies at our feet," (Watts 46) is a Zen explanation for the reason of
Chans difficulty of comprehension. To become enlightened in Zen, one must merely remove the
doubt that he is not enlightened. To fully understand Zen, meditation is more important than
explanation, for Zen is a philosophy in which a Ch'an practitioner must learn on his own. The
question of the belief of no faith can be asked in many different ways (Walter 1). The question can
range from the age old, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" to others such as, "What is the
nature of the mind?" (Walter 1) Zen must be comprehended, not explained (Ross 143). Those who
are Zen masters say that Chan is to go with existence without attempting to stop or hinder its
course (Watts 52). To practice Chan, it is necessary to understand how to meditate.

There are two basic forms of contemplation: Shamatha and Vipshayana (Walter 2). Shanmatha
contemplation is a preparatory measure for Vipshayana meditation. During Shanmatha
contemplation, a contemplator attempts to recognize the stream of consciousness, without trying to
manipulate or interrupt it. This prepares the body for Vipshayana contemplation, in which the
meditator must not be interrupted by any other thoughts. Vipshayana contemplation is the type of
contemplation with which one may find Enlightenment (Walter 2). There is also a type of meditation
called Zazen. Zazen is practiced while seated, and the contemplator must notice his breathing
without trying to alter its natural pattern (Walter 2). Zazen is much like Shanmatha meditation, in
that one must recognize the bodys actions without interrupting in any way. When a Zen practitioner
contemplates, the meditation affects the practitioners normal memory (Aitken 1). It is difficult to
explain the entire process of meditation, as it is difficult to explain Zens true meaning.

The ancient religion of the samurai is not in fact a true religion by definition, as the practitioner of
Zen does not worship any god, but, in essence, worships the bodys complexity, especially the
complexity of the mind. The belief of no faith is an assimilation of many other religions from the
East. Since the religion began in Japan, it shows the Japanese ability to borrow cultural aspects of
other culturesand incorporate it seamlessly with Japanese culture. It is difficult for anyone who does
not wish to accept Zen Buddhism to understand the deeper meaning of this religion. But anyone
who embraces the belief of the belief of no faith has a good chance of achieving Enlightenment.

By Jordan Clark

What is Mind? No Matter. What is Matter? Never Mind.

by Jordan Clark March 12, 2005

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=zen
The True Meaning of Zen
September 30, 2010 by Sandra Pawula

Every time I turn around these days theres a new blog with Zen in its title.

Zen is being linked to everything from


copywriting, web design, and business strategy
to personal development, food, and far more.

Some bloggers are genuinely trying to express


what they believe to be the spirit of Zen via
their work and their blog. Others may simply be
riding the popularity wave from Zen Habits

And some credit should go to the icons who


introduced Zen into mainstream consciousness
starting in the 50s: Jack Kerouac with the
book The Dharma Bums, the philosopher and writer Alan Watts, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton,
and Robert M. Pirsig known for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle.

But just to set the record straight, Zen is not

a habit
simplicity
a state of peace
a state of mind
a minimalist aesthetic
living simply
a destination
nor is it just being in the moment

These are merely popular concepts about Zen. In reality, true Zen is far beyond concepts.

What is the True Meaning of Zen?


Shunryu Suzuki-roishi image from his Facebook page

Zen is a remarkable wisdom tradition.

It is a path to fully awaken to your original nature, which is present right here, right now. It is the
essence of wisdom and compassion embodied in spiritual masters like Shunryu Suzuki-
roishi and Thich Nhat Hahn. It is a living lineage of tradition passed on since the time of the Buddha.

Zen is actually shorthand for Zen Buddhism. According to the Random House Dictionary 2010,
Zen is a Mahayana movement, introduced into China in the 6th century and into Japan in the 12th
century, that emphasizes enlightenment for the student by the most direct possible means.

Zen is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam although there are many Zen centers in
the United States as well.

The word Zen is derived from the Chinese word chn and the sanskrit word dhyana, which mean
meditation. In sanskrit, the root meaning is to see, to observe, to look.

Zen is a noun. Zenic is an adjective.

Its not uncommon to misunderstand Zen even when you study and practice it. Thats why it helps to
have a teacher. The great spiritual master Shunryu Suzuki-roishi once said:

And this misunderstandingthe misunderstanding you have about Zen, I thinkwhen we say: Zen,
oh, Zen is wonderful [laughs]. Whatever you do, that is Zen [laughing]. Even though you are doing
something wrong, that is Zen. Whatever you do is Zen. That is why I like Zen. [Laughs,
laughter.] This kind of misunderstanding I think you will have about Zen. But what we actually mean
is quite opposite.

There is nothing imprecise about Zen. At the same time, its almost impossible to put your finger on
true Zen.

Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases used by Zen teachers to make you notice yourself, to go
beyond the words and wonder what your own mind and being are. This is the purpose of all Zen
teachingto make you wonder and to answer that wondering with the deepest expression of your
own nature. from the introduction to Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-roishi.
Zen mind cannot be understood from the perspective of our ordinary, dualistic mind.

We say big mind, or small mind, or Buddha mind, or Zen mind, and these words mean
something, you know, but something we cannot and should not try to understand in terms of
experience. We talk about enlightenment experience, but it is not some experience we will have in
terms of good or bad, time or space, past or future. It is experience or consciousness beyond those
distinctions or feelings. Enlightenment cannot be asked for in your ordinary way of thinking. When
you are not involved in this way of thinking, you have some chance of understanding what Zen
experience is. from Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-roishi.

Zen practice may calm our mind, bring more clarity, and infuse us with greater kindness. But the
ultimate goal of Zen isnt seeking or clinging to peace. Calming the mind is just one part of the story.
The purpose of Zen isnt to put an end to the activity of mind. That would be impossible anyway. As
Shunryu Suzuki-roishi explains when he speaks about zazen (sitting meditation),

When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something
comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your
thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something
comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not
bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.

Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure; it is just like clear water with a few
waves. Actually water always has waves. Waves are the practice of the water.. To speak of waves
apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one. from Zen
Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-roishi.

If you would like a taste of true Zen, a good place to start would be with Suzuki Roishis spiritual
classic Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.

The Allure of the Word Zen

Theres no turning back from the fact that Zen has acquired a colloquial meaning in modern
life. Maybe its the zip and zing of the actual word Zen that is part of its allure. And, it
conveniently rhymes with a whole range of other words making for ever so zingy blog
titles. Chances are there will be many more blogs with Zen in their title and many other
enterprises too.

This is just a gentle reminder, amidst the pull of popular trends, let us not forget the profound and
true meaning of Zen.

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Dont forget to sign up for my e-letter and
get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the
Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe always. With love, Sandra

Pawula, S. (2010). The True Meaning of Zen - Always Well Within. [online] Always Well Within. Available at:
http://alwayswellwithin.com/2010/09/30/the-true-meaning-of-zen-hint-its-not-a-habit/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
21 Mantras to Boost Your Self-Confidence
September 27, 2015 by Sandra Pawula

Because one believes in oneself, one doesnt try to convince others. Because one is content with
oneself, one doesnt need others approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts
him or her. Lao Tzu

Think of a tiny seed that pushes itself gently through the earth until one day it shoots through,
opening to the sunlight. It knows its mission and moves steadily ahead, without doubt or self-
consciousness. When the right moment arrives, it blooms fantastically, willing to be seen in all
its glory

Confidence doesnt have to be bold, brash, or belligerent. It can be quiet, gentle, and steady, like
the seed that grows day-by-day into its fullness, when fed with the proper nutrients and the right
environmental conditions.

Sometimes, it seems like an epidemic of low confidence has swept across the modern world. Its
nasty tendrils crawl through the tiny corridors of our brains, whispering self-doubts, making us
repeat the same old, defeating patterns, and even triggering self-destructive behaviors.

Its not necessarily easy to change this encoded brain biology, but its possible.

Build Your Confidence with Positive Self-Talk

It all begins with one thought, one word, one step, and continues with the next.

How you speak to yourself can make all the difference in the world. If you tell yourself scary stories,
youll stay small, contracted, and unfulfilled. So start telling yourself a new story using your favorite
phrases from the list below.
1. I listen to my inner voice, my intuition, and my own direct experience.

2. I take joy in every positive step I take.

3. I know my life is a miracle. I respect it like a precious gem.

4. My failures are stepping stones to success, when I see them in a positive light.

5. I value myself. I value my mind, my emotions, my body, and my spirit.

6. Low self-esteem is an old story Im no longer willing to tell myself.

7. Its okay to make mistakes. Im human! I still love and appreciate myself.

8. Im a whiz at navigating bumps in the road.

9. Im grateful for bumps in the road, they help me steer in the best direction.

10. Small steps build my confidence. Ill take a small step toward one of my goals today.

11. I frequently remember my successes in full technicolor.

12. I believe in myself. Im excited about my talents, gifts, and qualities.

13. I accept my weaknesses with spaciousness, humor, and ease. They do not detract from my
confidence.

14. I dont have to be perfect to be confident.

15. Im unique. I dont compare myself to others.


16. I am enough. I do enough, I have enough.

17. Im in charge of my life. I make the best possible decisions for myself based on what I know
in the present moment.

18. This is my life. This life belongs to me.

19. I distinguish clearly between what I need to accept and what I can change.

20. I do my best. At the same time, I know Im not necessarily in control of the outcome. I wont
loose my confidence if things dont go my way.

21. Im always guided on my path. Guidance comes to me easily when I quiet my mind and
listen.

Click here for your free 21 Self-Confidence Mantras printable

Use a selection of these mantras everyday. Write them on post-it notes and place them in visible
spots throughout your home and workplace (if the latter is appropriate). Write them in your journal
or on index cards that you can carry with you and look at each day. Record them and play them back
to yourself.

Dont Suppress Your Emotions

Of course, dont suppress insecure feelings when they arise. Let them rise and see them for what
they are:

Thoughts that have no weight or substance that will vanish momentarily or at least
eventually into thin air.
Emotions that want to bowl you over, but they too will disappear if you dont feed them a
sumptuous feast of more despair.

Gradually, as you learn to be aware of your thoughts and emotions and let them pass by like
clouds in the sky, theyll gradually lose their hold on you.

Confidence cannot be forced, it comes from many little steps. Like a seed, it must be watered and
tended to with care.

Pawula, S. (2015). 21 Mantras to Boost Your Self-Confidence. [online] Always Well Within. Available at:
http://alwayswellwithin.com/2015/09/27/mantras-to-boost-confidence/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
My 16 Zen Work Habits

January 11, 2015 by Sandra Pawula

The single most important change you can make in your


working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work
second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day
for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-
mail off. Mark McGuinness

Your success or failure in work and life depends upon your daily
habits. Its that simple!

If you allow bad habits to rule your life, it will be difficult and
maybe even impossible to manifest your dreams.

To be honest, Ive been rather loose when it comes to my work habits. I tend to be a hard worker
and have the capacity to focus for hours at a time. But, I dont think those are the optimal habits for
my own health and happiness. It makes sense to me to work smarter not harder.

So I was delighted to find an exercise in an earlier edition of the Create Your Shining Year Biz
Planner (theres a Life Planner, too; partner link) that invites you to itemize your positive habits the
ones you have in place as well as the new ones you would like to embrace.

As you probably know from your own experience, its not necessarily a snap to implement new
habits. Writing them down, making a commitment, and reviewing your list regularly can make the
difference between floundering and staying on focus.

My 16 Habits for a Productive and Serene Work Day

I took the challenge and created my list of positive work habits. I selected habits that simplify my
attitude, my approach, and my activities, while also nourishing my well being.

Here are my 16 Zen Work Habits:

1. Create a goal and actions list for each month and refer to it daily.
2. Start my day by setting an intention: May my work and whatever I do today benefit as
many people as possible.
3. Practice a formal session of mindfulness meditation.
4. Take 30 breaths to oxygenate my brain and energize my body.
5. Choose and record my 3 most important priorities at the start of my work day or the night
before.
6. Have my paper priority list beside me at all times while working.
7. Choose creative work first, reactive work second.
8. Stay in the present moment as I work. If my mind wanders, bring it back to here and now.
9. Say no to requests and commitments that are not in line with my monthly or yearly goals.
10. Pause when I begin to feel overwhelmed or stressed. Use a simple stress reduction
technique and re-evaluate my priorities as needed.
11. Spend time in nature everyday.
12. Take evenings and the better part of the weekend off.
13. Review my progress at the end of the day. Celebrate my accomplishments. Move
incomplete priorities or tasks to the next day.
14. Always be gentle with myself.
15. Review my goals and action plan once a month.
16. Practice good posture at the keyboard.

Some of these habits like daily meditation have been in place for years. Others like creative
work first are challenging for me Theyre not all about work because I believe to work well you
must know how to relax and play well too.

16 may be too many! It might be better to start with 10 or 12. But, I plan to work with them
gradually over the next 12 months and fortunately some are already solidly in place.

Does this mean, for example, that Ill stick strictly to my 3 priorities each day? Probably not because,
I want to follow my inspiration as well. If a passionate urge arises, I will most likely follow it and
adjust the list accordingly. But, I like the idea of making space for both structure and spontaneity.

Im excited to have a structure of positive habits to comfortably hold me while I work. I suspect
using this habit list will change the quality of my work experience and make me more effective and
productive as well.

Have you made a list of your daily work habits? Which habits help you work with greater focus
and ease?

Check out the 2017 Shining Year Planners here:

{Note: This is a partner link. If you purchase one of these planners, Ill receive a small commission,
which helps me to keep writing on Always Well Within. Thank you!}

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Dont forget to sign up for my e-letter and
get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the
Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe always. With love, Sandra

Pawula, S. (2015). My 16 Zen Work Habits - Always Well Within. [online] Always Well Within. Available at:
http://alwayswellwithin.com/2015/01/11/16-zen-work-habits/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
21 Super-Easy Tiny Pleasures Guaranteed to Destroy Stress
May 20, 2017 by Sandra Pawula

Everyday, you have so many tiny pleasures available to you that could serve as powerful antidotes to
stress, if youre willing to slow down and enjoy them.

Science tells us that stress can increase the desire for pleasure and lead to unhealthy behaviors like
overeating and the full range of addictions.

Conversely, healthy pleasures, in small doses, can inhibit stress by reducing anxiety responses in the
brain. Tiny pleasures release feel good chemicals in the brain that can intervene in the stress
response. When you stack tiny pleasures, one upon the other, throughout the day, they can help
you build resilience to stress as well.

For tiny pleasures to be effective in relieving stress and building reslience:

You must be present and aware in the moment.


The pleasures must be enjoyable and in a healthy dose.
There needs to be a body-based experience that invokes relaxation and a tide of happy
neuro-chemicals.

21 Tiny Pleasures to Help You Beat Stress

Here are some tiny pleasures I enjoy, and you might too. They involve activities you already engage
in or or ones that can be done in a matter of moments.

1. Savor your morning coffee or tea, 10. Feel nourished by silence.


drinking in the aroma and the taste. 11. Watch families enjoying themselves
2. Feel the sensation of warmth as the when youre at a park.
shower streams onto your skin. 12. Play with your dog or pet your cat.
3. Rub an object in your palm, feeling 13. Hold your hand on your heart and
the stimulation of pressure points. soothe yourself.
4. Look through a photo album, and 14. Knit or crochet, activities proven to
enjoy pleasant memories. evoke the relaxation response.
5. Feel the warmth of the sun on your 15. Listen to a moving piece of music.
body. 16. Enjoy the indescribable experience of
6. Visit your flowers and plants and clean bed sheets.
celebrate how theyve grown. 17. Laugh, just for the fun of it.
7. Gaze at the stars and appreciate the 18. Sing your favorite songs.
mystery of life. 19. Indulge in a nap.
8. Listen to the sounds of nature: bird 20. Cuddle, hold hands, or kiss your
songs, pounding waves, or the rush of partner.
the winds through the trees. 21. Walk barefoot and feel all the
9. Appreciate the colorful display of a sensations on your soles.
meal.
These activities arent automatically pleasurable, especially if youre head is a million miles
away. You make them so by being present, opening fully to the the sensations, and allowing
pleasurable feelings to flood your body.

How to Create a Life of Tiny Pleasures


Only choose tiny pleasures that work for you. If anything on my list triggers a sense of aversion in
you, its not right for you and may create stress.

Make a point to notice what makes you feel good as you go about your day, and delight in those
moments. Try out new pleasures too. Create your own list of tiny pleasures and allow it to grow as
you add more enjoyable experiences into your life.

Youll need to create a life of many tiny pleasures if you want to alleviate stress and build resilience,
not just occasionally indulge in a feel good moment. But tiny pleasures dont need to take hours and
hours. Aim instead, for brief moments of pleasure one to five minutes sprinkled throughout the
day.

Start slowly by adding a few small pleasures each day. Dont make tiny pleasures work, or they
may evoke the stress response. Gradually build up until youre enjoying 10 20 moments of tiny
pleasure each day. Be sure to gently bring you full attention to the pleasurable experience or it may
not have the desired effect.

If tiny pleasures dont come easily for you, thats okay. They dont come easily for me as an INFJ on
the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. My inferior function is extroverted sensing That means I tend to
have a rich inner life, but am less tuned into the sensations and experience of the immediate
physical world. If youd like to learn more, read: Do You Know Your Personality Type.

I know, however, that strengthening my inferior function will lead to greater wholeness. So Im
slowly adding small pleasures each day and enjoying them thoroughly.

Building moments of tiny pleasure into your day each and everyday is a powerful and relatively
easy way to transform your life from a complex of stress to an integrated experience of joy.

Of course, adding tiny pleasures doesnt mean you shouldnt enjoy big pleasures too, like a day on
the beach, a massage, or a full on vacation.

You deserve tiny pleasures and big ones too.

Pawula, S. (2017). 21 Super-Easy Tiny Pleasures Guaranteed to Destroy Stress. [online] Always Well Within. Available at:
http://alwayswellwithin.com/2017/05/20/tiny-pleasures-guaranteed-to-destroy-stress/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].

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