The Path to Zen – What is it and How to Find it

For many of us, life becomes a blur. Rapidly advancing technology catches us in a whirlwind, demanding that we “do more”, “achieve more” and “be more”. While trying to control our lives, our lives become uncontrollable. When we stop and reflect, we often realize that there must be something more to life’s mystery. We hear a calling to explore deep within, to gain knowledge of one’s self, and the desire to simply experience “being.” For those who have reached this pinnacle, you have already begun life’s journey toward the discovery of Zen.
What is Zen? Derived from the Japanese word meaning “meditation”, Zen has been globalized over the centuries. The Japanese took Zen from the Chinese word -“chan”, which ultimately came from the Sanskrit word “dyana.” Defining Zen proves difficult. Zen is an experience. It embodies a state of being, living in the moment, living as life around you, the practice of present mindfulness, and seeing things as they are. At its heart, Zen is the practice of developing discipline of the mind through awareness.
Mindfulness may be achieved through meditation, walking, yoga, martial arts, Tai Chi, or finding an activity that is comfortable for you. Zen teaches that everything in the universe is connected and rooted in the whole, and greater than the sum of any one part. The journey of Zen is discovering that everything fits together into one divine, perfect whole.
To find Zen is to become intimate with the inner-self. One must become still – quieting the body and the mind – Not an easy task! Meditation is a wonderful tool to find the calm within you. Putting your thoughts and nagging doubts away can be achieved through practiced repetition of focused breathing or through the use of mantras.
Zazen or Zen practice is “sitting meditation.” It requires dedicated concentration on the breath. The act of feeling and hearing each breath allows you to let go of the dwelling thoughts within you, and to be in the moment of your body – simply “letting it be”.
We all have Zen within us. To rediscover the treasure of experiencing life in the moment opens the heart to an inner awareness that everything in life is possible. Through practice, we can break the cycle of conditioning that leaves us feeling overwhelmed or unhappy with life’s daily challenges. Being able to let go of the day’s stresses and to have the solitary awareness of life within us and around us is the essence of Zen.

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