Our everyday life is an amalgamation of the hustle and bustle. We race against time to make ends meet. However, with the world adopting a more liberal outlook towards global culture, various cultural concepts make way into the everyday life of people, surpassing the boundaries of race, ethnicity, color, or religion.
The Zen way of living is a similar example where the concept of minimalist living is making its way into our lives slowly but steadily. People across the west are showing immense enthusiasm to practice a Zen way of life.
Recently a book named ‘The art of simple living’ by Shunmyo Masuno hit bookshelves in the markets and did quite well. As fascinating as it sounds…let’s take a quick peek into the everyday habits of a Zen way of life.
What is Zen living?
To begin with, the concept of minimalist living has a very holistic approach. You have to thoroughly embrace a minimalist lifestyle where you will not indulge in anything extravagant. Nothing loud, nothing gaudy….everything is plain and simple.
You cannot own ten different cars and call yourself a practitioner of Zen way of life. So it is a life where we take and use things only based on our need and not want.
It may be hard for some of us to let go of our extravagant lifestyle, but it is a matter of choice. Even if you don’t completely immerse yourself in the Zen way, there are certain takeaway concepts that we all can easily apply in our daily lives.
Some of the basic tenets of simple living:
- Give more take less
- Practice meditation daily even within a hectic day
- Rise early and practice a few minutes of deep breathing ideally amid nature
- Eat with caution, trying to keep the diet junk-free and straightforward
- Invest some time in productive personal hobbies
- De-clutter the living space from time to time
- Refrain from dwelling in a negative mindset
- Being aware of your existence fully
- Enjoying all that you have with a heart of gratitude.
The above few pointers are a crude summation of how we can start with practicing essential Zen. If one wants to delve deeper, there are various resources and guides around us that talk extensively about the Zen lifestyle.
Living the minimalist way can contribute to solving many of our world problems. If we take a more in-depth look into our wasteful way of life, we can avoid overuse of resources, let nature breathe, and replenish a lot if each of us takes and use things in limited quantity. That’s the beauty of minimalist living.
While a select few adopt the Zen way of life, its scope is immense.
Here are a few aspects of the Zen way of living that you can incorporate in your daily living
If you want to veer your self towards a more peaceful life even while running the rat race, the perfect solution is zen meditation. There are many different meditation techniques that you can adopt and incorporate in your busy schedule.
For instance, the author Shunmyo Masuno suggests in his book, to wake up fifteen minutes early every day to reduce the feeling of running late. He also suggests to relax and breathe during those fifteen minutes to make your brain free of the stress of the upcoming day. This way, you will never feel running late.
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The basic tenets of a Zen diet are becoming a vegetarian, of course. No killing animals for food and eating simple, nutritious natural things. Avoiding too much of anything.
Zen can also be applied to how we eat. For instance, we have to try to eat slowly. Taking time to chew each bite and relish the taste of each substance that we eat and feeling grateful at the same time. Also, taking deep breaths between each bite will increase the blood sugar level and stop us from overeating.
Of course, it implies saving a good twenty or so minutes for each meal every day—no eating in a hurry. No multitasking while eating. Once you get the hang of it, it feels incredible.
Yes, the Zen garden is a legit thing. Some many state-of-the-art hotels and offices have installed Zen gardens within their perimeter. Zen garden used precision and balance. Also, it uses the essential eight elements, at least in representation, to create a space where the mind can get de-cluttered. All Japanese temples have a mandatory Zen garden within its premises.
Zen gardens have sands mimic oceans, perfectly trimmed plants, and wooden structures like a small bridge or sculpture. All of these elements are symbolic of our connection to the natural ingredients.
The idea of a Zen garden is to calm your senses and pave a mental path in your mind so that you can concentrate more on living a more profound life even within extreme stress. You can incorporate some of these ideas to create a small Zen garden if you have space.
This is something that most people can afford and try once in their life. Just like a Zen garden, Zen interiors use minimal décor and furniture in the room and goes with a neutral color palette. Using light, soothing colors in the walls. Heavily textured or patterned carpets, curtains, wallpapers are a no-no.
Ultimately, as London-based interior design firm Moretti Interior Design writes in their blog, to bring Zen into the home “is all about creating an environment of peace, relaxation, and inner sanctuary from the stresses and strains of life in the outside world.”
The basic idea remains the same. The less thing you have in your room, the more energy will flow, and you will feel the better. Also, having light colors on the walls make you feel relaxed after a hectic day just by staring at it. Having less furniture will automatically refrain you from buying unnecessary things for your house. In turn, it will always leave you feeling light and positive.
Art in any form can be therapeutic. And when we talk about Zen art, it is a class apart. Zen art can range from doodles with precise patterns to one stoke paintings.
According to the Met Museum, “the first Japanese artists to work in this medium were Zen monks who painted in a quick and evocative manner to express their religious views and personal convictions.”
“In time, however, artists moved on to secular themes such as bamboo, flowering plums, orchids, and birds,” the Museum writes.
But modern zen art is so synonyms to minimalistic art. Type ‘Zen art’ on shopping platforms like Etsy and a plethora of artworks will pop. Dominant in them, you’ll see is clean lines, sold and light color palates, full shapes, and images of mountains donned in a few shades of soothing color. In short, they’re soothing to look at.
(Read from our above coverage of a very distinct form of Zen Art, featuring an interview from the artist)
When you start with Zen doodling, a sense of composure and calmness will embrace you. You feel develop a higher level of concentration and will feel much more in control of your life. Zen doodles can be intricate and fun to try. Various tutorials are available across the internet in case you want to try.
I hope this article has been of some use to you. I believe in a world where we can all uplift each other irrespective of national boundaries. If you know someone who is grappling with a hectic life, please feel free to share the sneak-peak into a Zen way of life. It will surely alleviate some, if not many, of the complexities of modern life.
Do not forget to share your story in case you try to practice Zen.