In my “about me” section, I mention that I try to live a Zen-inspired lifestyle.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It is. Until someone asks me to define it. Then my gaze turns upward, my head leans to the side, and I give a big, “Hmm…” buying time until I can stutter out, “Well, it’s like being present and mindful..”
This is usually not satisfactory, and people are left with the impression that Zen is some lofty, out-there, hippie thing.
But it’s not. To me, Zen is a very conscious lifestyle choice that can be defined by concrete experiences. Like the ones I’m about to list.
This is what Zen means to me…
- Noticing the fine mist that shoots off of an orange as you peel it.
- Gazing at a typical object with a sense of awe and wonder.
- Watching a sunset and bursting into happy tears at its beauty. (Ever seen Bedazzled? I totally felt like this.)
- Feeling the steam from a cup of tea rise against my cheeks.
- Sitting in a bookstore, reading Deepak Chopra, and suddenly looking up and feeling so connected to the strangers nearby that I couldn’t help but smile.
- Feeling my heart softening and opening up to love.
- Allowing myself to be vulnerable.
- Basking in the warm sunlight beaming through a window.
- Looking into the mirror and finally feeling acceptance and love.
- Feeling gratitude for the little things.
- Really tasting a raspberry (or anything, really).
- Seeing random acts of kindness by strangers and feeling love and compassion swell in my heart.
- Valuing myself (and actually acting like I do).
- Dropping insecurity and letting others be beautiful too.
Zen, to me, is presence.
It’s being mindful, noticing and appreciating the little things. It’s feeling connected. It’s being present, open and bursting with love and compassion.
But it’s not only being present for the good stuff – it’s also being there for the bad. It’s being mindful even during the worst events and emotions.
How ’bout you, lovely readers? What does Zen mean to you?
Peace, love and a steaming cup of mindful, open, meditative Zen,