To live a more zen life does not mean you need to retreat, move to East Asia and become a monk. However, there are certain elements of a zen monk’s lifestyle that you can take into your life wherever you are.
Some of the main principles that monks live by is having consciousness and mindfulness in every activity, as well as finding peace and calm on a daily basis. Now if that doesn’t sound ideal I don’t know what does.
So let's break down what you can do to live a little more zen.
- Tackle one thing at a time. Much of modern lifestyle and culture is about multi-tasking. By try to focus on just single tasks. When drinking water, just drink. When preparing dinner, just prepare dinner. There is no need to focus your attention on more than the current task at hand. This will help your mind embrace the simplicity of life and live more presently in even the smallest of daily tasks.
- Do things slowly and deliberately. Don’t rush. Again, the modern world is hectic and we are constantly trying to tick off as many “to dos” as possible within the day. Try to take your time and move with purpose. Be deliberate and not flustered and rushed. This will in time improve the quality of the actions you are taking and again allow you to live more presently.
- Do everything thoroughly. When you have made your lunch, don’t sit down to enjoy the meal until you have put away everything, cleaned, wiped down the counter and everything is as it was. This type of small action will teach your mind to do things fully, but also to appreciate more what you have accomplished because you have done it fully.
- Create habits and rituals. This gives a sense of normalcy and consistency but more importantly, rituals signify something important. If something is important enough to have a ritual, it is important enough to have your full attention. This again can be something as small as making your bed every morning and starting your day with a cup of coffee by the window before starting your day.
- Live as simply as possible. Try to figure out in your life what is essential versus what is not. That is not to say you need to throw away your earthly possessions. But it might allow you to realize you can eliminate non-essential things from your life, giving more room for what is essential and brings you more joy.
These are just a few rules that will help you begin to live a more zen life. So remember, learn to live presently, fully, and with care and intention. If we want to live our lives that way, we need to put the same care into the smallest daily tasks as we do in the big ones. The habits we create will ripple out into other elements of our lives.